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Analysis Of The Themes In The Film Bend It Like Beckham

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The film, “Bend It Like Beckham”, was directed by Gurinder Chadha in 2013. The film does not only focus on football but also using a sense of humor to reveal how culture influences on personal identity. Many of the first generation Asian American feeling stuck between two cultures, can create a sense of confusion and conflict.

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Throughout the film, like many Asian Americans family nowadays, immigrants parents always decide what is best for their children, but do not respect what their children really wanted to be. The central character in the film, Jess was passionate about playing football. However, her parents disagree with Jess playing football at all because it is against their traditional beliefs. Jess’s parents expected Jess concentrated on education, and learning to be a traditional Indian woman. In addition, the film definitely reveals the concept of racist attitudes that prevail in many minority communities. Jess’s father talked about that he was not allowed to play cricket on any England teams because he is not white. The reading assignments help us understand the theme of the film in depth, exploring the struggles that many of the Asian Americans have gone through and the role of culture in our life. Culture is something that surrounds us every day, influences the way we think, behavior, personality, and value. No matter where we born and raised, culture affects our daily life in multiple ways.

The film, “Bend It Like Beckham”, and the article, “Behind the ‘Model Minority’ Myth: Why the ‘Studious Asian’ Stereotype Hurts”, both demonstrate culture and family play a vital role in shaping one’s personal identity. Jess, the main character in the film, desires to playing football against her parent’s wishes who wants her to concentrate on education, go to the college, and learning traditional Indian dishes. “What family will want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking football all day but can’t make round chapattis?”.

Like many first-generation parents, Jess’s parents teach their children to follow and respect their original culture, shaping who they are. Unlike Jess, Shannen Kim fulfills her duties by getting straight A in school for her parent’s expectations and sacrifices. Culture eventually shaping Shannen to be a behaving and hardworking person. “I think so much of my self-worth and value was so closely tied to my accomplishments, and my academic accomplishments, it was like an attack on my identity and who I thought I was”. The article reveals that Asian Americans have been stereotyped as the “model minority” in American’s education system. Asian Americans parents highly value a education because they believe academic achievement is an important key to success in the future career. Asian parent’s high expectations and supports eventually lead to Asian’s students having high pressure for their academic outcomes such as doing well at school or getting into Ivy League schools. Therefore, most Asian students are hard-working, and generally have higher academic achievement than other racial minorities. I deeply understand what Jess and Shannen have gone through since I personally raised in the Chinese family. Many times, I was trying to convince myself to believe that I was passionate about being a nursing in the future, but actually it was my parent’s expectations. Like the facts that described in the film and the article, Asian parents always decide what is best for their kids, instead of truly understanding what their kids really wanted to be. In the film, Jess’s parents make major decisions for their children based on Indian’s beliefs and culture. Jess’s mother controls her future that forces Jess to be a traditional Indian woman. Jess did not want to be a traditional Indian woman that her parents wanted for her. She was struggling with her own identity and feeling pressure to give up the thing that she passionate about.

As growing up in an Asian community, I realize that many Asian parents immigrate to America with nothing, always working with low wages but long hours jobs. Therefore, they always have high expectations for their children to be successful in the future career. Many first-generation Asian Americans have witnessed how much their parents experience hardships, feeling obligated to work harder in order to reciprocate their parent’s sacrifice. The article definitely helps to convey the theme of the film that culture largely influences one’s identity. According to the article, “Hamid Naficy: An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking”, the Accented film is in dialogue with the home and host societies and their respective national cinemas, as well as with audiences, many of whom are similarly transnational, whose desires, aspirations, and fears they express. The film, “Bend It Like Beckham” reflects the conflict of two cultures, traditional Indian culture vs western culture. The film portrays that Jess’s family who has left home and live in England, but they still continue to practice the Indian culture to maintain their original beliefs. “What kind of family would want a daughter-in-law who can kick a football around all day but can’t make round chapatis?”. The films suggest that Jess passionate about playing football. However, Jess’s mother feeling ashamed that Jess was wasting time on playing. Mrs. Bhamra believes that Indian female supported to learn how to cook Indian food and trying to be a traditional housewife. Jess participates in two different cultures throughout the entire film. She constantly pushes and pull between what she wants to be and obeys the traditional Indian cultures.

Throughout the film, I see Jess tries so hard to follow her family’s expectations to avoid disappointments. I totally understand Jess’s feelings because I personally grew up with both Chinese culture and America culture. The American culture encouraged me to explore outside of the comfort zone while the China culture teaches me to be an obedience person. I felt like sometimes it is really tough to find a balance between the two cultures. When one grows up in two distinct cultures, it can be hard to merge two cultures without losing another one. As a Chinese American, Chinese culture is a part of my identity. I am proud of my culture because it gives me a sense of belonging, and always guided me to become a disciplined person. It definitely clashes with the value of American culture which can create conflict and confusion, but I still embrace both cultures that I growing up. Throughout history, Asian American have faced long-term racial discrimination in the United States.

The reading, “Vincent Chin murder 35 years later: History Repeating Itself?” and the film, “Bend it Like Beckham”, both show the topics of racist and ethnic inequalities that prevail in many minority communities whether in the past or in the modern society. According to the article, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was beaten to death in Detroit by two white autoworkers. Two white killers, Ebens and Nitz who hate Asian American because they believe that Japan was taking over the American economy since the Japanese auto factory dominant U. S. market in the 19th century. They scapegoated Chin for the economic depression of U. S. “They were concerned about Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Kaufman’s remarks during the case when he said of the two men charged: “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail. ”

As an Asian American, I was so painful and angry after reading this article. I can’t believe those two killers did not even go to jail at all. Was the life of Asian American worth? Chin’s case leads to the Civil Right Movement in which brought Asian Americans all over the country came together to fight for injustice. I felt so proud that Civil right movement actually called for all minority community to end the silence and fight for our rights. Over time, Asian Americans are stereotyped as silent and coward, the ones who never complaint. After reading the article, I was so touching to see Asian Americans from different backgrounds at a time unite together to make our voice heard, no matter how small the community was. I realize that we are not as silent as many say we are. As a part of the minority community, we have to be strong enough as a whole, so the society will not ignore us. Like the article, the films also reflect the theme of racial inequality and discriminate. “Young man, when I was a teenager in Nairobi, I was the best fast bowler in our school. Our team even won the East African Cup. But when I came to this country, nothing.”

In the film, one major issue that Jess was not allowed to playing football is that Jess’s father has experienced racism in which he was banned from playing cricket despite his prominent skills. Bhamra recalled that those white cricket players just made fun of him because the ways he looks. The incident that Jess’s father experienced greatly influences his decision to allow Jess to play football. As a father, he does not want Jess is going to be insulted and discriminated as the same way he has experienced. The article allowed a better understanding of the film in depth, showing us unequal treatments and discriminate that many Asian American faced over time. The articles, “Model Minority’ Myth: Why the ‘Studious Asian’ Stereotype Hurts”, “Vincent Chin murder 35 years later: History Repeating itself ?”, “Hamid Naficy: An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking”, provide me a new perspective on Asian Americans. The articles specially bring out the theme of the film, including immigration, culture conflict, personal identity, and racial inequality. It allows me to get more involved in understanding the struggles of my community have been through in the past and now. I am appreciated for the differences between the two cultures that I grew up, continues to make me become a better person.

15 July 2020

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