At the San Jose Short Film Festival, in the animation block, was the short film Up In the Clouds. It was delightful, a feisty and happy teenage girl scaring her daddy during driving lessons. I believe this teenage girl later becomes a pilot.
After that show, I told Katherine Park she did a wonderful voiceover job for the teenage girl. I mentioned my Kittygirl story. Katherine asked me to email it to her, and I did. She replied with “Hello! I read your cool story tonight, thank you for sharing it with me!!!” And in my reply to her reply (not in my story), I used the term “oriental” explaining how Kittygirl became Japanese American. Katherine’s writing advice in her reply to my reply to her reply was so good that I asked permission to put it on my blog. She said yes. Here it is.
I think my only gentle cultural counsel/suggestion as an Asian American myself would be never to refer to a person as “oriental”! Now, the general rule is it is only considered acceptable if used for objects and “things” like rugs, and it’s outdated to describe Kat that way. In your position, you are in an important place to speak and write about your character Kat, and that’s why I want to make sure to point it out! 🙂 The best way to refer for Kitty is “Japanese American” as you said (good job!) or American, or American with Japanese heritage. I love that your friend suggested Kat to be Japanese American. There are exercises you may have heard of with children who choose the “beautiful/good” doll from a white doll and a black doll. I bet you can guess which doll was chosen over and over again for “good” traits, and which for “bad” traits. That is why representation is so important. I loved how Kat was a main character, and only felt a little twinge of discomfort when she was admiring the blond hair as if it was better than hers. I would feel more comfortable in that scene if Holly were blond and Asian American, too. As a biracial person I am more outspoken than most, I feel strongly about representation and even used to dye my hair black for my first TV and film roles. Food for thought because as artists the integrity of our art is most important, but we also have a voice and can use it for good! Have a great day & please let me know how it develops!! 🙂
Katherine makes a great point about the hair. I want it obvious that Kittygirl likes her own long black hair, she should not seem envious of Holly’s blonde hair. But Kittygirl is impressed by how Holly’s hair shines in the sunlight, part of Kittygirl looking up to her hero Holly. I’ll work on it, the blonde envy issue with girls deserves scrutiny. And little girls not finding or liking a doll that looks like them? So sad!
P.P.S. As for me being important, I still need to get Kittygirl out on Kindle. I’ll need a cover, and maybe another story starring another super kid (make it two-stories-in-one?). Kid supers are fun, and are needed to replenish the comic book geek herd before old farts like me die off.
P.P.P.S. Thanks again, Katherine. You really helped.