Saturday, March 3, 2012

Moo Goo Gai Pan Asian

Moo Goo Gai Pan Asian courts many Muses.  Its first inspiration comes directly from the Asian American experience -- first, second and third hand.   The hilarity as well as the sturm und drang.   The play is also inspired by my research of Bananas and Banana Republics.  The formation, propogation, history, migration.   I was fascinated to learn that the Cavendish is endangered, and its predecessor the Gros Michel completely wiped out.  That India has the most variety of bananas in the world.

This biting comedy is also inspired by George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum comprised of "Exhibits" that showcase, spotlight stereotypes of African Americans.  It's provocative because race makes us uncomfortable.  Super uncomfortable.

So uncomfortable I struggle with Moo Goo Gai Pan Asian.  Is it worth rewriting?  Developing? Worth weaving the history of the Banana with the Diaspora of Asian Americans?  It's a play, no surprise, with a cast of mostly Asian American characters, and also no surprise, a bunch of theaters told me they cannot cast.

Then a funny thing happened off the keyboard, on the courts and across America.  LINSANITY!  Yes, Jeremy Lin.  And how the Media treated race in its reportage.

Jason Whitlock and his racist tweet.
ESPN with "Chink in the Armor" which had actually been used before with no repercussions.
Ben & Jerry criticized for including "Fortune Cookie" but not lychees as an ingredient in its Linsanity flavored ice cream
The Saturday Night Live sketch that ratttled off a set of racist imagery that every Asian American I know has had to live with.

When I was a bond trader on Wall Street, I was given a lot of nicknames.  Yellowtail, Yellow Pages, Snowpea, Radar.  I thought Radar was a step up because the nickname was a "tribute" to my impeccable memory & ability to anticipate the future.  Every few days I was asked how to make lemon chicken, who was General Tso, and so on.  Asked if my dates were ever tired of eating "Chinese." My friend on the corporate desk was called Cato relentlessly.  We just let it go.  Rationalized it as the price of admission.

After all, it wasn't like once we left the trading floor, we were free.  Unfortunately, racism, discrimination, inequality is everywhere.

When is a Fortune Cookie just a fortune cookie?

Jeremy Lin is such a positive role model for everyone -- all stripes, all ages, all creeds.  His story resonates with us all.  The overlooked, under-appreciated, humble professional basketball star inspires us all.  To be better.  To believe.  Push.  Change.

Bring on the Wang Sanity!  And Go, Knicks!

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