Netflix released “Tigertail,” a drama by producer, actor and director Alan Yang on April 10. The film depicts a man’s reflection on his youth amidst immigrating from Taiwan to America. Yang, best known for his work on Aziz Ansari’s comedy, “Master of None,” asked via Twitter that “Tigertail” be shared “with anyone who needs an escape … especially Asian-Americans, who are facing an unprecedented time in our history.”
When the world goes awry, people often lean into art as a form of escapism. There is a certain comfort in immersing oneself in music, movies and other forms of media. Furthermore, there is another level of enjoyment that arises when we are able to connect and resonate with a specific narrative.
Art can support dialogues and amplify voices, especially when underrepresented communities are portrayed as authentically and respectfully. The inclusion of perspectives from minorities and other marginalized groups is a step that aids us in dismantling the biases and misconceptions that have been prevalent in mainstream American culture. When we provide platforms where these communities can vocalize their stories and perspectives, we gain valuable insight into their lives, which helps us not only empathize, but understand them more.
Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, there had been an influx of racially-charged rhetoric and crimes toward Asian people and other minorities. When the virus is repeatedly publicized in the media as the “Chinese coronavirus” or the “Wuhan virus,” it racializes the disease and opens the door for ignorant, xenophobic attitudes.
Additionally, when the president of our country brands the global pandemic as the “Chinese virus” during a recent White House debriefing, there will be more stigmatization and discriminatory practices to follow. When media outlets and our world leaders racialize a disease, they neglect the fact that they are feeding into a contagion of misinformation that may infect and damage various lives. Whether they are purposely scapegoating or they are just oblivious to the implications of their speech, it is just a mere reflection of their lack of consideration and empathy.
As an Asian-American, the palpable panic and violence swelling around tempt me to conceal my identity. When our culture and roots are continuously vilified in the media, it stirs a distasteful feeling of shame onto the parts that make us whole. These same pieces that we treasure and take pride in are now perceived as targets. Misrepresentation, exclusion of proper narratives, and scapegoating are fueling the hysteria and drawing divisions in a time where understanding, cooperation, and unity are much needed.
Beneath the layers of deceptive reports, there’s a denizen of honest narratives and hidden perspectives. Being attentive to these stories allows us to understand the marginalized and underrepresented. Especially within a polarized society that we are living through today, it’s key to be considerate and stand in solidarity of those whose voices are neglected. I urge you all to watch Yang’s immigrant story of “Tigertail,” whether as a form of escapism or enhancing your own understanding in these trying times. In doing so, maybe we can reflect on what makes our country so great or how we can make it great once more.