As I aimlessly scrolled through Netflix, thumbing my way through the seemingly endless assortment of shows and movies, I found Over The Moon. I was intrigued, and as I clicked on the trailer, I was met with beautiful Disney-esque animations of an Asian family, mooncakes, and paper lanterns. Okay, now they had my attention.
I struggle to find the words to describe how I feel about the film, even weeks after my first viewing. These efforts have been made harder as I navigate my own feelings about the Atlanta spa hate crimes last week. Is this what it means to be Asian in America? Is this the America that our children will grow up in, feeling as though their existence is something to be killed over? These attacks on Asians have left me– as well as the rest of the community– absolutely heartbroken. My heart goes out to the families who have lost their loved ones due to these heinous crimes.
In my experience, growing up Asian-American meant exactly that: Asian and American. As a child, I was taught to use chopsticks, eat Bird’s Eye Chilies, and speak the language of my ancestors. In school, I would study American history, recite the pledge of allegiance, and stay updated on the American trends. I got to embrace both cultures, albeit separately. With the increase of Anti-Asian hate crimes, I worry that my younger cousins and younger sister might come of age in an America that they see is against them to the point that their lives are at risk.
Over The Moon is an animated film with an all-Asian cast. Glen Keane, a former Disney animator, brings the audience along on a colorful journey as a heartbroken young girl attempts to travel to the moon to seek out the Chinese mythological goddess. I needed this film more than I realized. And more than that, I think I need to know that my younger family members will have more representation like this. They deserve to grow up and consume media that represented them. They deserve to know that no matter how horrible things might be, their culture and background are things to be celebrated; it is something that people make movies about. I watched in awe as Fei Fei chugged boba milk tea, ate ramen, and worked for hours at her desk. I felt immense joy watching as the families joined together during the Moon festival and discussed the myths and traditions of their culture. The ability to relate to the film was unbelievable.
After the hate crimes in Atlanta, I watched as people on social media shared their parents’ fearful texts, urging them to hide their Asian-identity; even one mother, worried for her child’s safety was urging her to dye her hair blonde. I hope that as a society, we will better ourselves and become something that we could have pride in. Maybe we can work so that the generations that come after us won’t feel the need to separate or hide their culture. I hope so.
Hey, don’t look so sad, baby Anna. Things will get better, I promise.