Tuesday, November 06, 2007

'Banana in a Nutshell' - Can Chinese parents still love you if they do things that upset you?

I've been meaning to post about this for a while. Banana in a Nutshell is a short film that I saw on a plane (in fact, I think it was a flight to HK) and I thought it was a really interesting short film that quite a few bbcs can relate to.

It's a documentary about a young New Zealand Chinese (NZBC?) girl called Roseanne and her relationship with a white boy. The film shows the anxious build up to the boyfriend meeting Roseanne's father, and Roseanne's stress concerning her parents' reaction. The film's official website is here: http://www.banana-film.com/index.html.

The boyfriend situation is the main event depicted in the film but it actually covers Roseanne's entire relationship with her parents and siblings and the East vs. West conflicts that come with being 2nd generation Chinese.

The film is very heartfelt, especially one scene in which Roseanne tearfully tries to understand why her parents never show her any outward signs of affection. Does this mean they don't love her, she wonders? Yet why would they have worked so hard to provide for her, if not out of love? This is something I think many young bbcs will have thought about at some point in their lives.

If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend 'Banana in a Nutshell'.

As for my own thoughts on this, I think there will always be a big difference between how we, as a westernised generation, expect parents to behave and how our parents have been brought up to behave. We have different ideas about what is 'right.'

It is a lot to ask of the older generation to totally chance their demeanor and personalities just to fit what we, as 2nd generation, have come to regard as 'good parenting' - a view that has been shaped by a totally different upbringing.

Differences exist between the generations, but I think the key is to acknowledge that and learn to accept it, rather than isolating one side or demanding that one side changes to match the other.

UPDATE: 'My Wedding and Other Secrets' - a NZBC movie


Anonymous said...

I'm a Chinese American, and my parents upset me about once every month or so. I KNOW they love me, I just can't live have extended contact with them without going mad. I'm also the only child, like so many Chinese these days, I just have to shut them out when it gets too much.

burntbreadboy said...

I know, it can be maddening sometimes but now that I'm older, I just take the view that 'that's how they are, that's how they'll always be'.

Anonymous said...

I think what frustrates me most about Chinese parents' unreasonable demands is that they were the ones who chose to emigrate here to the west and then they have no empathy whatsoever for how incredibly hard the conflict between achieving personal happiness and filial obligation is. Both sides must compromise but it must be remembered that it was our parents who brought us here and thus forced a western upbringing on us in the first place so why the surprise when take on a different perspective to them???

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is quite right. I'm a teacher in Hong Kong and I've found that most parents would like their kids to keep the entire Chinese culture intact and oh yes, by the way, have a foreign education tacked onto it without any of those pesky western additions like a young person questioning the previous generation's values and developing independence. I have every sympathy with any young person attempting to balance these sets of values.

Anonymous said...

I'm BBC, and the last replies have excellent points. If first generation Chinese immigrants in the west want their children to be "Chinese", then they should have stayed in HK, China, Taiwan etc.

Chinese parents? Stuff them.

Anonymous said...

agreed...Stuff them!
They need to realise this is the 21st Century.. GODDAMMIT! (BUILD A BRIDGE AND GET OVER IT)
Chinese parents should respect their daughters decision. If my parents wanted me to marry an asian guy, well they are sadly mistaking!I stand by my decision, to marry an indian guy or a white guy... NO comment..

Anonymous said...

I disagree with a lot of the comments above - I am 25, BBC female. For some reason I look mixed race even though I'm not so I have a unique perspective in that a lot of Chinese didn't include me at school but then I wasn't English enough for the English.

I agree that Chinese families drive you insane. They are possible the most unchanging race - example, tonight we all went out for a western meal and my mother complained the whole time that she wasnt eating roast duck (shes only 45) - irritating right? Sometimes they make my head explode and I want to suffocate myself under a pillow...

But what I cannot ignore, and what other BBC's shouldn't ignore is all the things that parents and grandparents have had to sacrifice to put us where we are today. We can enjoy freedom in career, love, what we eat, where we go, who we see - its not a privilege many before us had. Empathy?...yes I wish my lot had a bit more but what can I say, their gut instinct is practicality and survival. I can't argue with that, I have no damn right to.

I'm not some brainwashed looney by the way, my other half is white much to the disdain of my mother, and I am as sensitive as anything so my family upset me...ooh four times a week?! But let me tell you having seen my boyfriend's family and my white friend's families - a Chinese one will love you deeply and more unconditionally then you will ever realise.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know where i can find a copy of this film in London or order it online??

Steven said...

I second the above comment:

How do i get this in the uk?

burntbreadboy said...


Their website has a link to buy the DVD, and they ship internationally. Works out at about £15 in total including postage.


Anonymous said...

You may be interested to know the documentary has been made into a film: My Wedding And Other Secrets http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1614979/