The Green Card Store
This is my first blog post of the class, Sociology of Pop Culture. This is one post in a series of assignments. I want to introduce myself, who I am and what I define myself as. My name is Anjelo Rocero. I am Filipino. I was born in the Philippines back in 1994. I moved to the United States in the year 1999. I moved quite a few times in my first few years here. I first lived in California and then moved to the east coast where my parents currently reside in a small town called Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania. Growing up, watching television shows, I would never find a show where it would showcase any Asian Americans. I would think that the stories being told on TV were the only ones important. I would watch the Disney Channel and never seen any minority that could help me define who I am as Asian. If I did find someone, it would someone who would fit the stereotype of someone who was a FOB or Fresh off the Boat. This term is used a lot to define an Asian American who immigrated here to the States. On TV I would see these characters being made fun of who bringing in rice to school because the other kids did not understand how important rice is in Asian culture. I would see that Asians would be the “nerdy” type instead of look cool. Seeing these images of “popular” people being white made me want to be them and just fit in. It was so hard growing up embracing the Culture that my parents love because I wanted to fit in white culture. I would remember growing up and wanting to do what my white friends would do during the holidays. There were special traditions that Filipinos would do over the holidays. If you don’t know, Family culture is very important in the Philippines. All major holidays are based on the family. We would have a big feast on Christmas Eve and open our presents on Midnight. I would be very mad at my parents for doing this tradition of opening presents the night before because my other friends would wake up on Christmas Day and open presents. This image of Christmas would be in my mind, and this is what I thought was normal. I thought my family was weird for doing that. The reason why I thought my family was weird was that on the shows that I would watch featured white Americans opening gifts on the morning of and not the night before. I would tell what I did for Christmas and how I got my presents, and some of my classmates would be so confused on why my family would do that.
Now that I grew up and started to find more information on the Filipino culture and saw my identity as a Filipino I realize that it’s a part of who I am and that makes being Filipino special. The pop culture that I grew up with made me think that I was not normal in what I did because it was not on TV. I was never exposed to that. It is now 2016, and I still see the same stereotypes that Asians are being portrayed in pop culture. For instance, a show called SuperStore on NBC; recently they portrayed a Filipino American queer man is shown in the clip above. The manager, Glenn goes up to Mateo who is the Filipino immigrant working in the Cloud 9 superstore and tell him about the American blue jeans that he is wearing. He tells Mateo “good luck finding these jeans in Manila.” After the interaction with the manager, Mateo and another sales associate talk about what just happen to them and Mateo talks about the white culture a bit and what strikes me is that he says that “Asians can’t Vote” At this moment I was confused on why the dialogue got to that point. It seemed to meet that Mateo was an American citizen because in my experience all of my Filipino friends have their green card and got citizenship. Seeing a Filipino on national television come out and saying that he is illegal got me baffled. In the next scene, Mateo calls his grandmother and starts speaking in Tagalog, which is the main language spoken in the Philippines. The conversation is loosely translated about Mateo asking his grandmother about the green card that he has. Mateo asks about the “green card” store where you can get anything there. At this moment Mateo finally knows the truth about his current status as a citizen. After his talk with his grandmother, Mateo goes to his boss and tells him that he just found out that he is not an American citizen. The manager tells Mateo that he is an American citizen, affirming him that he is American.
In my knowledge, seeing this depiction of Filipino people have never been in the spotlight. Hearing Tagalog on live television made me so proud of who I was as an individual. I thought to myself. Finally, there is some representation of a Filipino on tv. It was great to see that someone was telling a story, but was it a good story to tell? I am a Filipino who has obtained his citizenship the legal way. I have never heard in my life that the Filipino people who go and buy fake green cards. In the reading, Dustin Kidd writes that Asians had fewer roles in sitcoms than blacks and Hispanics (2014, 43). Watching tv in today’s time, I would not see this kind of story line on primetime television. Asian Americans are underrepresented in media today. It is very hard to find TV shows today that will focus on Asian American issues. there is one show that has came out recently called Fresh Off The Boat, which depicts an Asian-American family that starts a new lifestyle by opening up a steak house in the middle of white America. I have not watched this show a lot but the times that I have, I saw myself in the characters that were playing the roles. I was the kid that brought in rice to school lunch; I was the kid that was being bullied by other kids because I dressed weird. I was the kid that was made fun of because of the way my eyes looked. It showed me that America is being exposed to some real realities for a lot of Asian-American kids growing up.
It is very hard to find roles where Asian Americans are being featured to play the leading role. It is found that about 71.2 percent of white actors get speaking or named characters in pop culture today (Kidd, 39). My culture is being under-represented in today film and media that seeing a story based in Asian culture gets permanently white washed because producers think that only white people can play a part that was meant for an Asian actress. There was a recent scandal about the film Ghost in the Shell. The famous actress, Scarlett Johansson got casted in the film where it is based on the popular Japanese animated film of the same name. Everyone thought that it was a time for an Asian women to take the roll but it got to white women. I was angry about that because Hollywood has taken other cultures and used it to make money. Whether or not the film would be good, choosing someone based off their culture and not what the film needs is what makes me feel so unrepresented in media. No one gives opportunities to the people that can play these parts as good as white actors.
All in all, I am calling on Hollywood to make opportunities to depict Asian American stories that show us in a way that engages people. I want to see more films and shows about what happens to us in the ways we are treated in our everyday life. I love being Asian American because it gives me a sense of who I am as an individual. I love my Filipino heritage because growing up I had to learn how to love myself and the people that raised me. I am a citizen of the United States and being here has given me the opportunity to show the world what it means to me to be a Filipino American.
Word Count :1411
Kidd, Dustin. 2014. Pop Culture Freaks. Westview Press.