By now, those of you who showed up to the show last month and got the early copies of the #FML CD have probably already noticed that it says Side B
A couple of you emailed me all curious as to what Side B meant...some thought that there was a Side A of the CD and actually flipped it over to try and play it in their CD player upside down. Others thought I had hustled them and gave them half the album. Don’t worry, ya’ll got the full #FML CD.
Side A already exists. It is the Model Minority and the academically focused culture of Asian America. And it can be toxic for an adolescent.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on school; working hard and getting good grades is extremely beneficial towards your future careers no matter what field they are in. The problem occurs when there’s funnel vision. When you only focus on academics and you completely neglect everything else, there is a certain pressure that is placed on the adolescent. And with that pressure often comes lack of interest, fear of failure and fear of trying anything outside of academics.
Take the story of Jennifer Pan as an example. Toronto Life published an article about Pan, who was a straight A student studying pharmacology at the University of Toronto. Pan was your typical Model Minority success story; her parents were both Vietnamese immigrants who came here with nothing and raised a daughter who was at the top of her class in one of the best universities in the country.
...Except Pan wasn’t that. In reality, she never even got accepted into college. She was in fact a B student...but she never had the heart to tell her parents the truth. Instead, she fabricated a lie that she was a U of T student in order to avoid disappointing her parents. Eventually her parents found out and pretty much took away any sort of freedom a 22 year old girl would have. They even forbid her from seeing her boyfriend whom she had been with since the 11th grade.
Things took an ugly turn as Pan started to resent her parents, and in a shocking maneuver she ordered a hit on her own parents...causing grave injuries to her father and death to her mother. You can read more about this story from the actual article here.
Now, before we start to criticize the Tiger parents, we have to remember that this is an extreme case. Most kids do have daydreams about killing their parents as they were growing up, but carrying it out is a whole other matter altogether. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that a fixation on academic and financial success as the sole rubric for an adolescent’s life can be lead to dire consequences both physically and emotionally.
This is an important conversation to have because it is this Side A academically oriented narrative that contributes to a lack of Asian-American representation in the media. Hollywood may play a big role in that, but when even our own families shun such profession...how can we expect to see any AAs in major movie roles or releasing platinum albums?
There are always two sides to a story. As you listen to #FML, remember your own Side A narrative and that just might help you discover (and realize) why #FML is Side B.
But that’s a post for tomorrow (Edit: it's available right here!). For now, just enjoy the music!