ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

"That Kid." RAW Power.

One of the most common experiences of growing up Chinese-American was the phenomenon of our shared hatred of "That Kid."

I guess this requires a bit of explanation.

In Chinese culture, children exist primarily as source material for parents to brag to others - and in the winner-take-all world of bragging parental one-upsmanship, there can be only one; some kid out there whose accomplishments eclipse everyone else's best efforts and make them look weak and paltry by comparison ... a fact your own parents never fail to remind you of.

Score a 1500 on your SATs? "Did you know Uncle Walter's daughter got a 1600 on her SATs - two years younger than you!"

Graduate salutatorian from high school? "Well, Auntie Beverly's son was valedictorian. At age 15!"

Place in a regional science fair project? "Did you know Dr. Leung's daughter is a national scholar with the Westinghouse Science Talent Search?"

And so on.

The thinly-veiled message, driven into our insecure and impressionable minds since about age 13, is that you are a defective, lesser version of so-and-so's kid, and if your parents could replace you with him or her, they would do so in a heartbeat. Thus, from our early teens, those of us not at the local maxima of academic brilliance in our respective Chinese-American communities grow to loathe and curse one name, one kid (who we may not even know) as the impossible standard by which all our parents compare their children against.

During lunch with Niniane Wang a few months back, she admitted she was "That Kid" in her community - an apotheosis of technical/academic accomplishment that other parents barely known to her family would use to berate their own defective offspring ... and we shared some laughs about a skit I wrote in college mocking that entire phenomenon.

RAW Power
Without a doubt, the biography of Ray Arthur Wang (no relation to above) firmly cements his place as the Golden Child in the world of his parents' friends - BSEE from Berkeley, PhD EE from Stanford, concert-level pianist and professional filmmaker.

It's in the latter he departs from the script of stereotypical Chinese-American career advancement - rather than accepting the sure-thing technical career that a EE PhD would provide, he choose the riskiest path of filmmaker; during his final year at Stanford, he put together an ensemble cast to shoot a film about a haunted car titled Carma that won accolades from a swath of prestigious film festivals and has since fully immersed himself in the uncertain world of independent film production. (Well worth checking out - you can watch the movie at the Carma website.)

Ray, whose initials "RAW" became the basis for the name of his production company "RAW Power Productions" and I have begun work jointly on a screenplay after a serendipitous meeting at a concerto a few months back; I've joked that it's probably a good thing my parents did not know him ten years ago so I am spared being compared to his formidable biography and the need to get over the irrational loathing such comparisons inspire. HA!

More recently, RAW completed the whimsically entertaining project Line for Heaven which takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the notion of salvation as a Web 2.0 application.

Keep your eye on this man. You'll see his name on an Academy Award inside a decade. Until then, would invite you to check out Carma.
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