‘Seeking Asian Female’ Provides A Detailed Glance At A Fetish

‘Seeking Asian Female’ Provides A Detailed Glance At A Fetish

Filmmaker Debbie Lum poses with Steven and Sandy, her documentary subjects, on the big day. Susan Munroe/Seeking Asian Female hide caption

Susan Asian that is munroe/Seeking Female

It is hard to view looking for Asian Female, Debbie Lum’s uncomfortably close glance at the phenomenon some call “yellow fever” — when frequently non-Asian guys fetishize Asian females as intimate or intimate partners — without squirming. And also at very very first, it looks like it absolutely wasn’t really easy for Lum to report the sensation.

“I’d to fight the desire to make around and then leave, ” Lum claims in a voiceover, appropriate we know only as “Steven” for the first time before she meets the character. She explained this person had among the “worst situations of yellowish temperature” she’s got seen.

Steven, an earnest, bespectacled, white US guy with an unsettling penchant for Asian females, isn’t precisely the most attractive of prospective suitors. A tendency is had find serbian women by him to gauge ladies predicated on their degree of “Chineseness. ” As he beckons Lum inside their messy apartment, he tells her with unabashed glee: “You look really Chinese, aided by the bangs. You understand i prefer that. ” Later on, Steven excitedly defines their love interest Sandy as “looking so Chinese. You cannot look any longer Chinese than that. ” Why is him a specialist on searching Chinese is pretty ambiguous, though he does not seem too concerned with that.

He generally seems to lust after Asian ladies with regards to their expected docility and beauty. “after all i am an old man, i am 60, ” he informs Lum before fulfilling Sandy, musing about his perfect girl. “Do we want the farm woman to deal with me personally? Do i’d like. An business that is intelligent to assist me develop to and fro? Just What do I want?. There is this Vietnamese film called The Scent of Green Papaya which has this servant girl whom cooks these stunning dishes. Gee, would it not end up like that? “

Meet Sandy, a 30-year-old girl from the Anhui province in Asia.

Sandy finds Steven on an on-line dating site and generally seems to be looking for a prospective entryway to your U.S. Plus some stability that is economic. (She takes two split pictures of those and makes sort of endearing, type of creepy couples photo, much to their pleasure. ) Steven visits her once or twice in Asia, they hit it well and she comes to your states on an engagement visa that is k-1.

Yes, Sandy takes proper care of him. But she is hardly the demure woman he wished for, just like he’s barely the flashy US she may have anticipated. Through the entire movie, a frustrated Sandy defines planning to escape the connection the moment she’s got sufficient money and education.

The movie has a lot of blinking warning signs that state this relationship may possibly not be a great concept. We cringed a whole lot. Each time a frustrated Sandy confesses that she’d “lose face” if she informed her relatives and buddies in Asia about her house-less, money-less United states beau, i came across myself asking, What makes you achieving this?

Yet. During the period of the movie, something remarkable took place for me personally. Sandy and Steven, together, began to appear to be it might probably perhaps not be this type of bad thing after all.

Steven kisses a photograph of Sandy, their bride from Asia.

Debbie Lum/Seeking Asian Feminine

There clearly was one thing unsettling in regards to the movie, and my response to it. Why had been we experiencing sympathetic to Steven, whom fetishizes Asian ladies? Can a relationship, borne away from one thing maybe only a little twisted on both relative edges, evolve into one thing genuine? Can it be also fair to evaluate another person’s relationship? Lum, whom that she began making the documentary because she was sick of dealing with men (usually non-Asian) who shared Steven’s creepy fascination with Asian women like me is Chinese-American, told me. But as she made the movie, Lum’s ideas changed, kind of love mine.

After Lum settled on Steven as an interest on her behalf documentary, the film was thought by her will be about their relationship with Sandy. She had no concept that she’d be intimately covered up within their courtship: she soon discovered by by herself their designated (and reluctant) translator, and after that, the couple’s de marriage counselor that is facto.

When Sandy discovers a cache of pictures of Steven’s ex-girlfriend on his computer — the ex ended up being Chinese, natch — she freaks away. Lum translates their battle. “I’m able to just show my love everyday, ” Steven states. (Lum does not want to convert that for him. )

“this is certainly likely to be an adjustment on both of our parts, ” a teary-eyed steven informs the digital camera after his battle with Sandy. “this isn’t Asia, and I also have always been perhaps perhaps not Chinese. I am dreaming about the very best. “

As Lum gets closer to the couple, she begins to see under the area of these relationship — that there is feelings that are genuine.

“there is this entire other person here, ” Lum stated of Steven. “When we see partners like Steven and Sandy, i believe about their stories now, the maximum amount of as i believe in what it checks out because, or just what it appears like through the outside. “

Lum, in addition, is hitched to a white irishman. But she claims her relationship along with her husband differs from the others than Steven and Sandy’s. “Steven and Sandy’s is a type of contemporary undertake a conventional arranged wedding, ” Lum stated. “They went into it with a truly pre-determined need to be hitched above anything else, whereas my spouce and I type of just met. “

Yet she sometimes wonders if other people consider their relationship as one tinged by yellowish fever.

Sandy and Steven, by the method, remain together. Sandy now talks English fluently, Lum stated.

We stumbled on this movie thinking of Steven as “an Asian fetishist” and of Sandy as “an opportunist. ” Having invested a time getting to learn them through Lum’s lens, we saw their nuances. Elements of their relationship — their battles, their day-to-day interactions, their worries — became incredibly peoples, totally relatable to an outsider.

Except i’m like there ought to be a “but. “

This narrative nevertheless does not sit well beside me. The way in which Steven considered Asian ladies — stripping them of these individuality, layering on pre-conceived ideals, changing individuals with kinds — was challenged as he came across Sandy, a genuine individual with levels of her very own. They might result in the relationship work, yes, and I also could even want them to. However in that instance, their road to pleasure feels marred with potholes that nevertheless have to be examined and considered.


A person we think become Steven Bolstad, Seeking Asian Female’s documentary topic, taken care of immediately the post within the reviews area. (We additionally reached away to filmmaker Debbie Lum to comment and tend to be waiting on her behalf reaction. ) Here is what Steven needed to state.