After re-watching writer-director Alice Wu’s “The Half of It” for the millionth time, I wanted to see Wu’s inspiration for the story. In my crazed research, something she said stuck out to me: 

“At the end, when [Ellie’s] leaving for college to start her own life, [her father] doesn’t tell her ‘I love you, you need to do this.’ What he does is he makes her a ton of dumplings.”

Wu has emphasized how she wanted to portray a parental dynamic that was true to her experience as a Chinese-American. That meant showing how Ellie’s and her dad’s love for each other is expressed nonverbally.

Wu’s statements made me contemplate my own relationship with my parents as well as those of my Asian-American peers. I noticed that many Asian parents do not show affection as depicted in Western media. In my household there was little verbal affection or praise. Rarely would I teasingly make fun of my parents, like they do in “Mean Girls” and “10 Things I Hate About You”. Judging by the various articles written by my Asian-American peers, it’s a shared sentiment. I believe the reason for this lack of verbal affection is due to an important aspect of many Asian cultures: respect for your elders and filial piety. While this can lead to strong loyalty to one’s family, it doesn’t allow for as much casualness between parents and children. Though that is changing, as many households adopt more Americanized forms of affection.

But hold your horses! Don’t go into the world thinking every Asian person was raised in a loveless household. Asian households don’t often show affection by saying “I love you” or talking about their day. But rather, affection is expressed in these other ways. 



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adriane Kong

Adriane Kong is a student pursuing a B.A in Urban Studies at Columbia University. She hopes to combine art and design to promote the voices of marginalized groups.