by William Guo
William Guo Children of invention reflection paper
The movie starts off with the heart wrenching scene of a single mother of two being thrown out onto the streets. As the movie progresses the mother can be seen as stressed, overworked, and very tired but still trying her hardest to make ends meet. Raymond, the oldest, takes care of his younger sister, Tina, when their mother isn’t around, which is for most of the movie. Tina the youngest is living in her own world, trying to deny everything that’s happening.
The main event in the movie is the pyramid scheme Gold Rep. The mother is sucked into it by smooth talking and a quick flash of some “checks”. She is quickly lured in by the false promises of checks by the first week. After she delivers her first round of membership checks she is arrested by the police for taking part in an illegal pyramid scheme. She doesn’t return home for two days. During the first day the children believe that their mother slept over at the conference that she supposedly went to. On the second day the children begin to think that their mother has abandoned them and set off on their own. Tina is mostly worried about being hungry while Raymond is trying to make ends meet. They both have visions of earning one million dollars. Raymond uses the five hundred dollars he was given by his grandmother to buy parts for his inventions that he thinks would sell and make him a fortune. The two children fall asleep while their making their products and are awoken up by police searching their apartment. They’re quickly taken in by child services while their mother is still being questioned. Once the police realize the mother has children they’re quickly united. The movie comes to a close when the mother realizes that her children were also being affected by the money problems she was facing once she sees Raymond’s attempt at making a fortune, ending with a nice family hug.
I felt very conflicted at the end of the movie. On one hand I was really happy the family got back together on the other hand I had a very strong hatred for Raymond enough for me to hate the movie. I hated Raymond because he was very unforgiving to his mother for a small period of absences and for not providing everything for them. Also he was very unhappy that his mother didn’t pay them attention despite understanding that they had money problems. I have these reasons because I had grown up in a similar situation. My parents were immigrants from China and on arrival had nothing. As I was growing up I did not have constant attention. My parents would frequently disappear for three days to work and make money. They had started off by making T-shirts with nice prints and selling them at the baseball games. They would move up to selling stuff at flea markets. Today they work a laundromat. I was never angry at them for doing so because I knew and understood the reasons and did not get angry at them. Raymond on the other hand wanted his mother to provide everything, all the time, even though she is a single mother and he understood all the money trouble they were having. I was just very angry because he was in a similar situation and acted wrongly.
I do have to admit that Raymond is pretty smart. His entire idea with making and selling inventions would have been very profitable had it been an attractive product. He could have very well gone onto becoming a future entrepreneur. Though his idea to use up all the savings was probably not the brightest. He did end up selling maybe 4 to the child services person and his co-workers.
Tina, I feel, represented all the children who did not understand any of the hardships faced by their parents. It is understandable because no one expects young children to understand the adult matters that is why the phrase “you’ll understand when you’re older” exist. But her admitting to Raymond that she knows he is lying shows that no matter how young children are they will always feel, but not always understand, the problems their family currently faces.
The mother was very gullible throughout the entire show. All her relatives and people she knew urged her not to join the pyramid scheme. Mike said to come back to working for him and her mother in law said to go back to selling beauty products. She was also easily tricked into joining the scheme by the couple running it. She was shown a couple of checks and was easily hooked. Even when she was talking to the mother and daughter pair, trying to coerce them into joining, the mother had said that all Chinese people just wanted to see the shortcuts and money right now but never think long term. That should have been a light switch in her head. She never seemed to think about the long term. She also got very frustrated with her children to the point where I thought that she would abandon them.
The message the movie tried to convey was that growing up with parents who have immigrated to the country can provide hardships not usually seen. That even with these hardships Asian Americans have persevered and have built a community here. That they move forward and built new lives despite setbacks and unlucky events. This movie has shown me that without a strong Asian American community supporting you it can be very hard to move up in the world. It is clearly show by the family depicted in the movie. The mother never reached out to any community for help in getting a job. The kids never seemed to have friends. Also the lady who had driven Tina and Raymond home once seemed to be part of a community. Her kids seemed happy, she looked like she had a job and was very happy with her life. A strong community can help you learn the ways of a new place. The community can help you build connections. Knowing people will help you get a job. A really important aspect a community is a sense of safety. By knowing that one can always reach out to the community and receive help is very reassuring. Throughout the entire movie there seemed to be no Asian American Community. Maybe if Raymond and his family joined an Asian American community they could have easily received help and could later on go help a family that is in the same situation. Maybe they wouldn’t have been taken for that wild ride of a movie.
By Lisa Wu
Asian immigrants to America are typically seen as living the “American Dream”. Through diligence and patience, a majority (or what seems like all) have been able to climb from the lower class into the middle and upper classes. Additionally, their children are often said to be gifted and innovative and will are slated to climb even higher. However, “Children of Invention” by Tze Chun portrays another, lesser known, side of Asian immigrants where success does not happen in spite of hard work and persistence.
The concept of failure is one that is almost unreal in the Asian community. It is similar to the Boogieman or some other fabled creature that is used to get children to behave. This makes sense since Asian cultures place a strong emphasis on hard work, rather than gifts and talents, as the key to success. When a person is successful, this is philosophy boosts confidence and increases motivation. Everything they have achieved is due to what they have done and if they continue what they are doing, they can achieve even more. However, when hard work is not enough there is not much else to turn to. There is no external force such as “fate” to attribute blame to, since what you have is the result of your efforts and if that is not enough, there is something wrong with you. This places further pressure on a person who is already in a poor situation, leaving them in a downward spiral.
Although this movie raises awareness of a problem, it does not provide a solution. I believe the use of Asian American communities can help. Growing up in a large Asian American community, I had never really encountered families who had ended up in such desperate situations. Most people who were in some type of trouble were able to reach out to the community and find ways to remedy their situation. Asian American communities can be especially effective since Asians are often reluctant to accept help from members outside of their community. By creating a strong support network through the use of Asian American communities, we can prevent the outcomes seen in “Children of Invention”.