the end of a legacy
The king and queen of Asia silver screen, Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li, appeared in this 2006 movie, Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by the genius director Zhang Yi Mou. The movie has a very strong cast but I refused to see this movie in 2006 for the fear of bad computer graphics. When Mom asked me to go see a Chinese movie with her, I had gone eagerly thinking it was a good time to spend with her. I had, of course, failed to connect the Chinese name to the movie I had read about. I was also lured in because she told me it shows a lot of boobs. :D Sure enough, it did. The story took place in the Tang Dynasty in which imperial China was strongest, the women fullest in figure and beauty. Sure enough, every woman in the movie had dresses that not only accentuated their cleavages, but literally propped the breasts up like two large melons. We cracked up so bad in the showing. The clothes, style, and jewelries were fantastic. The movie definitely deserved the Oscar for costumes.
Surprisingly, the CG wasn’t too bad. However, I was very disappointed by the content of the movie in addition to minimal acting. The plot is actually kind of complicated and I don’t plan on providing any plot spoilers except for some keywords here: infidelity, deceit, incest, and blood shed. A “powerful empire” is built on a facade of family values that don’t exist. I wondered why the movie was made. Is Zhang drawing a connection to the falling modern Chinese government that looks strong and powerful on the outside but filled with corruption on the inside? Or is Zhang trying to expose a set of degenerated Chinese family values? One of which is parents’ entitlement to their children’s love and respect. Family order, peace, unity are created and reinforced by rules, traditions, and power of the head of the family.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting. First of all, I asked myself whether I want to be a parent. Well, the answer was no at first, not right now. I still have a lot of things I really want to do before spending time on parenting. This is because if I do and when I do, I will put myself into it all the way. Additionally, it’s a challenge for an aspiring career woman to be a parent, without the right guy, it ain’t ever gonna happen. My fairy tale belief is that children are a celebration of the love between two people (note, didn’t say a man and a woman).
So let’s assume, I met the right guy, we fell in love, we got married, we were still in love, we had kids, we wished for perfect equity (my new vocab :)) in familial roles (except for child bearing), etc etc etc…, how would I want to raise my children? I must first declare boycott to the Chinese parenting legacy. However much I love my Chinese roots and culture, I am staying away from many of the “traditional values.” The reason I am putting that in quote is because these values are often taught today out of context, mis-interpreted, or harmful to children. I see my parents do it, my Chinese friend’s parents do it. It’s go to stop.
Let me give some examples. Chinese parents grow up with conservative emotional expressions. Because parents need to maintain power over their children in order to discipline them, they also don’t demonstrate their love for their children openly. Denise told me at one point that people withhold love and attention for others to gain power over them. One of the results is that there is little demonstrative rapport or love in the family. In my case, they were shown as criticisms. In my little niece’s cases, it may be shown as ice cream. Praises are rare to come by and given uncomfortably. In some of my friends’ cases, love may be shown shown as a car or clothes. The actual words of “I love you” would never be uttered in a Chinese family. In Chinese terms, “the sun is rising from the west.”
Further more, physical and verbal punishments are always acceptable. Threat to withdraw love or even care is OK. Parents are never wrong, i.e. they never make mistakes and therefore no need to apologize to their children. Positive reinforcement is never heard of. Children don’t have any right to choosing a career following their passion. Hard working habits are not inspired by passion or desire but required as duties or necessity for survival. Normal weight children are criticized for being too fat, resulting in eating disorders. Must be “humble”… urghhhh…. Number one criteria for considering a prospecting man for marriage is his income. Ahhhh…. That just makes me cringe and scream. And trust me, all of these are heard over and over from many cases … Do I need to go on more about this?!
I want to make changes to my legacy from my parents’ generation. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what my parents what they have done. I think they have done the best they can and I thank them for having a pretty darn good job. But I am choosing to do better by doing things differently. For everything I just griped about above, there is a better and more positive approach. The end of the last legacy at me is the start of a better legacy. What makes me feel so strongly negative about now would sure lead to a strong positive lesson. I have a growing desire to raise my own children along with a healthy dose of fear that I might mess them up. But like me and my friends, whom I have often bonded over our common experience with Chinese parents, our kids are going to be just as resilient as us, if not more!