Photo and Story by Emily Blalock / Contributing Writer
The Student Union Video Theater screened a documentary, entitled “Seeking Asian Female,” Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
The Asian Student Association and the Asian Language Partnership teamed up with the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students to put together the event.
The film, made by Chinese-American videographer Debbie Lum, addressed the importance of cultural differences, the danger of relying on stereotypes and ultimately, the widespread issue of the fetishization of Asian women in American culture.
The documentary followed the real-life story of a 60-year-old American man named Steven who exclusively dated Asian women and was trying to find someone to marry. Lum’s intention with her film was to expose what she refers to as his “yellow fever.”
However, when Steven met 30-year-old Sandy over the Internet, Lum documented the complicated relationship that ensued between the two individuals who came from vastly different cultures and didn’t even speak the same language.
Throughout the course of the documentary, Lum’s role shifted from a distanced filmmaker to that of a translator and a marriage counselor.
Kelly Hill, the program coordinator for the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, chose this film in order to open a discussion about healthy relationships and create a safe space for students to speak freely.
“The purpose of screening the film was less about the film and more about the conversation sparked after students watched the film,” Hill explained. “The couple in the film had a number of challenges to overcome in their relationship, including language barriers, differences in culture, communication styles, life goals and definitions of happiness. These are challenges that can be had in any relationship. The goal was for students to be able to think critically about the red flags that can be present in relationships and initiate open and honest conversations about the health of relationships in their own lives.”
By the end of the film, Steven and Sandy were still together, and Lum reflected on the ethics of her own role throughout the process of making the film. She admitted that she grew much closer to the couple than she intended.
The film was released in 2012 and is about an hour and a half in length.
“I’m glad that we can show this film because even though some of you guys may not have any Asian culture within your life, you can kind of relate to this,” said Yer Xiong, a student leader from the Asian Student Association.
The documentary was immediately followed by a discussion over the main issues represented in the film. Using a list of common red flags in unhealthy relationships, Hill prompted students to identify what unhealthy behaviors they recognized from the film.
The Student Union Video Theater screens movies every week, which are free and open to students and their guests.
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