“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Is” The First Asian American Superhero Movie

jenny and olivia

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“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, the bestselling book and now Netflix movie is having quite the week. It’s getting celebrated on one side and getting dragged on the other. I could see how this can be seen as a win for the teenage rom-com category. The movie itself is cute enough and Lana Condor does a great job. But I could also side with the people that have a problem with this book and movie. Where I differ is in that I don’t think this is a rom-com, instead, this book and movie should be under the superhero fantasy label just like Superman or Batman.

The Problems With The BOOK

The book, written by Jenny Han, a Korean American woman is about a half Korean, half white high school teenager named Lara Jean. Lara Jean, the middle child, has two sisters who are also mixed like her. Her Korean mother has passed away since her youngest sister was a baby. This leaves Lara with her sisters living with her white father and his white girlfriend. It must be great to be surrounded by so much whiteness.

I found it funny that Jenny Han, a full Korean would make her protagonist half Korean. I thought why not full Korean or full white. It also was interesting that she chooses to kill her Korean mother off in the book leaving no signs of her Asian heritage. Why not kill her white father? Whiteness is put on a pedestal. Then it hit me, I was not reading a rom-com, this was actually a superhero origin story.

To girls like Jenny Han, being white is considered a superpower. Something she wants so desperately to be. There’s no way she can be white so why not write a book about her ultimate ambition.

If Jenny Han was an X-Men her superpower would be to have the ability to turn half white and this would be her story.

X-MEN: MARVEL HALF WHITE GIRL

Jenny Han joins Professor Xavier’s school of mutants learning how to control her whiteness when one day Magneto comes and starts a fight.

Michael Fassbender
You X-Men are really starting to bug me. Photo courtesy of Fox

All the other superheroes fight Magneto but he’s too strong and that’s when Jenny Han aka Marvel Half White Girl joins the fight. She yells, “Magneto stop. White guys love Asian girls, you can’t fight it. You know it’s Yellow Fever right?”

jenny han
You need an Asian girl. No problem I’ll be right there

Magneto: “I can’t deny that. Just something about Asian Woman. But I must destroy you meddling X-Men so the superior beings, us mutants, can rule the weak humans.”

Jenny Han: “That’s where you’re wrong. The real superior beings are not mutants. Let me show you who the real superior beings are.” Jenny Han turns half white. “Look at me I’m what you’re daughter look likes. See, half white and half Asian are the real superior beings. We can make it happen.”

lana condor
Look what our half white daughter looks like. The true super beings

Magneto with tears in his eyes. “You’re right, you’re so right.”

Magneto stops his rampage, takes Jenny Han’s hand and they fly away to San Francisco to open up an artisanal bakery.

artisanal-bread
I don’t know what artisanal means but I’m pretty sure it’s the new whites only sign

So why wouldn’t Jenny Han just turn full white? It’s the same reason Spiderman doesn’t turn full spider. If all spider he’s no longer man. He can no longer say he’s human and just becomes a spider. Peter Parker is no more, he’s forever lost. His identity is gone. Being half white, half Korean lets Jenny keep her identity.

man spider
Who am I? What am I?

IS THIS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOR ASIANS?

Jenny Han and others have stated that this is a big step for Asians, maybe, but I don’t see that. I see the same movies being pumped out written by white men about white men falling in love with Asian women all the time. Having an Asian woman fall in love with a white man is not groundbreaking it’s repetitive. The only difference is, in this story, it was written by an Asian woman.

Now I don’t have a problem with Asian women dating white guys or any kind of interracial dating at all. Ideally, it’s a positive step and it’ll be great if the love wasn’t questionable but it’s just not how it is. Unfortunately, the Jenny Han types can only see validation from white guys. Their self-esteem derives from how much attention a white guy will give them and these movies keep reinforcing that. A woman’s worth should not be controlled by men.

A strong Asian person to me is a woman that can look in the mirror and say they’re beautiful without the validation of others. Nobody should be able to dent your self-esteem. I’ve seen too many Asian girls and guys go through depression and self-hate because of white beauty standards. They keep seeking white validation for their existence that they lose any idea of who they are and become a shell of themselves.

It’s really none of my business who anyone dates or how they should feel about themselves or if they have a white fetish. But why is having an Asian fetish, black fetish, or any other type of fetish called out but not white?

WHAT’S YOUR POINT?

Ultimately I feel sorry for the Jenny Han types. It’s like that scene in Kill Bill Vol 2 when Bill shoots Beatrix with the truth serum and does his monologue on Superman. Beatrix asks him what’s the point and he says when you wake up you’re a natural born killer and that other life you were living was a lie.

david carradine
I’m sorry to inform you but you’re 100% Asian. Photo courtesy of Miramax

So to all the Jenny Han types, when you wake up your a natural born Asian and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The movie and book, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, is just ‘Fight Club’ for Jenny Han. Lara Jean is Jenny Han’s Tyler Durden.

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