Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The FOB part 2

So I've talked about FOBs a little bit before. And the aversion Asian Americans have for them. However, I think recently, they've become a bit more acceptable. My friend has a sister who had a crush on some guy who was a FOB, and so her sister (who's second gen/third gen, it's kind of complicated) wanted to become more FOB-like in order to pursue him.

Having lived in Asia for a couple of years, I have definitely found myself becoming more FOB-like. I listen to Mandarin pop and I like it, which usually invokes some kind of distain, well, from some of my white friends anyway. I will probably hang my clothes out on a line to dry if housing codes will let me. Those housing codes strike me as somewhat classist, but hey.

Like I said before, the FOB can be the dark mirror of assimilation. The FOB can become the specter of nonconformity, and also the impossibility of assimilation. No matter how assimilated you are, it is impossible to thoroughly blend in. However, I think for many Asian Americans the FOB can come to represent Asia. Although many Asian American kids these days, particularly the wealthy ones, are able to go back to Asia, to go back "home" many of us have never been. I had never been to Asia before I moved to Taiwan, so for us the FOB can come to represent that kind of society. And I think these days, as there are more and more Asian Americans and more and more cultural exchange back and forth, FOBism, or Asian culture, is starting to become ok. Something kids are interested in.

I think for some of us, the FOB tends to also represent authenticity. Many of us, when we're growing up, particularly those of us who do not speak our "mother tongue" pick up pretty quickly that we are not the "real deal." Our FOB cousins, friends, or classmates, are pretty clearly "the real deal." And so I think there's kind of fascination, besides the revulsion or discomfort that comes with interacting with FOBs.

I find the fact that people are becoming not necessarily Asian or American, but transnational somewhat exciting. I think I've noted in previous rants, (I'd link, but the browser I'm on won't let me) that there are a lot of Asian Americans who go back to Asia to become singers and actors, rather than trying to cut it in the States, because they know that they can't cut it. So there's also the movement of Asian Americans returning "home" back to Asia. I find this all quite interesting.


Nien said...

well, there's also the reverse brain drain deal where chinese, korean and vietnamese people are going home to work managerial jobs because the opportunities are better.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...


Michelle said...

Yeah, authenticity bites. And then there's also the exoticizing that occurs in movies, or for characters in East Asian languages. (Like Justin T.'s tattoo "ice skater" in that whatzit movie he was in.)