Truthfully, I don’t even know that this post is going to be a review of this documentary. What I do know is this movie hits close to home, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way.
First, it should be known that I just wholeheartedly recommend people watch this movie. It’s on Netflix now, so please go check it out. It’s been on Netflix less than a week, and I’ve already seen it twice. Simply for the fact that while the movie follows Asian Americans trying to break into the rap scene, I think it’s really synonymous with Asian Americans trying to break into entertainment at all.
I think that so much of this movie hits close to home, because even though it sounds strange to say – because in the larger picture, I’m truly a nobody. However, I’ve still received messages from young Asian kids calling me their representation, which is insane to me. Because I’m barely on camera. Which in terms of this movie, to Awkwafina’s point, I don’t know that any Asian person in entertainment with any amount of a following really signed up to be a spokesperson for Asians, but we represent them. With that, all we want to do is do right by our unseen brothers and sisters.
Lyricks and Rekstizzy made really great points about the Asian American experience of breaking into entertainment. On the one hand, I think being raised first generation, some aspect of you is always afraid of embarrassing your family. Even though in your head, you know the only people paying attention to that is your family, or the other Asians who hate your family and need something to rag on them for at big community gatherings. However, I don’t think it’s lost on ANY first gen kids what their parents have sacrificed for us to be here. Yeah, we’re still seen as the defiant ones by getting into entertainment, but we’re still trying to make our parents’ journey worth it.
The rapper who’s most established in this movie is Dumbfoundead. As mentioned in the movie, there’s a VERY slim chance that you’ll find a young Asian kid who pays attention to any Asian media who doesn’t know who Dumbfoundead. To Dumb’s point, it’s almost ridiculous how often in this post a lone I’ve said “Asian _____” where it should just be the blank. Like realistically, everyone in this movie is JUST a rapper. However, because there are SO few SEEN of them out there, they have to where the ASIAN AMERICAN rapper moniker.
I think about Dumbfoundead’s line of thought of not knowing where he’s at in his career, but also knowing that a lot of other people would want to be in his position. I feel like that notion alone is what drives a lot of young Asian Americans that have chosen the entertainment route. No matter how far you get, you know there are so many struggling to catch up. As Dumb says at the end of the documentary, we’re not looking for the next one hit wonder – we’re looking for someone who’s here to stay to represent us.
Honestly, I could probably go on about this movie forever. I wouldn’t be surprised if I re-watched this movie for a third time with my Game of Thrones viewing group tomorrow and had a long discussion with them afterwards about how Asian people truthfully do not have a culture in America. I’ve been having that conversation a lot lately, the idea of Asians finding solace in the cultures of others because yes – Asian culture is very rich, and is almost abundantly endless. However the Asian AMERICAN culture is practically non-existent. Why that is, could be a lot of different reasons, and I have my theories – but I think we’re just now finally starting to build one.
I think for fellow Asian people, this documentary is a relatable story. Especially for those not taking the route that’s expected of us. I think for other people, I think it’s an interesting look into a group of people whose story is just finally starting to be told. At the end of the day, it’s just a good watch.