Weekly Reflection #9: Transnationalism
While the presentations were occurring, I just thought about Hmong people in the transncultural and diaspora context.
When Linda presented about Paris By Night, I thought about the shows that my family watches. We don’t watch a lot of Hmong shows because not a lot of them don’t exist. The most we have established are Hmong news, movies, documentaries and music videos. The older generation, such as my parents who are in their 60s, continues to rely heavily on the radio and even the phone. Since those mechanisms are easier for older generations to use, they do better in the market. For my dad’s birthday, my family bought him a “high tech” radio that costs $100 from a Hmong vendor. My dad is one of many older Hmong folks who have the desire to have one. The reason why it’s desirable is because it can play radio shows all over the U.S. and parts of Thailand, making this transnational. In addition, all the stations are pre-installed so the old Hmong folks can push one button through the list. The radio itself is still a bit bulky and requires a power outlet, so someone actually invented an even easier way for the old Hmong folks access news, music, and talk shows: dialing a number using their cell phone. Like my parents, they would dial the number, turn it on speaker, and listen to whatever that is on. They always have something playing as there are multiple stations all across the world, so my parents would listen to their phone anytime—day or night. This form of technology adds to this hybrid culture created within the Hmong diaspora, keeping them in tune with each other through the news, music, and simply a voice from a far land.
When Justin presented his analysis about the Vietnamese film, I thought about the films that Hmong people watch. Majority of the films that we watch come from other countries. The movie industry in Thailand is really big and that’s where all the big Hmong celebrities are located. They are known for their comedic roles. Whenever Hmong tourists arrive to Thailand, they always take a quick visit to see these celebrities. Hmong American actors and actresses would actually travel abroad to Thailand so they can record movies with them. Whenever the joke applies, my family always make references to these actors and actresses and a few of my family members’ nickname originate from them. These actors and actresses status definitely echo here in the U.S..
Dubbed movies from other countries are a common source of entertainment for the Hmong too. A lot of young Hmong people watch dramas from Thailand, South Korea, Laos, and etc. But what is becoming more of a norm is the older Hmong watching the same shows. Usually back in the villages, the Hmong would usually spend most of their time farming. Now, here in the U.S. they don’t farm as much. In the case of my dad, he is already in his 60s so he has a lot of time since he cannot handle the labor-intensive farmer role anymore, hence he watches these dramas so pass time.
Something that is unique to the Hmong community is that we went through a phase where many of us grew up watching Bollywood films. Before Hmong movies were even introduced to us, there was Bollywood. That movie industry definitely played in influence in many Hmong women’s lives. For a long period of time, Hmong women were imitating Bollywood choreographies and they even performed them in public at special events. In the more recent Hmong movies, they derived scenes we would see in Bollywood movies into their movies such as the couple running across the field in slow motion and music playing in the background. It also makes me wonder if Bollywood had any influence on the choreographies found in Hmong music videos. The Hmong dancers are always dancing in large groups with the same choreographies and Bollywood dances have the same structure as well. Hmmm…this is actually a really interesting topic to have a research on.