Filmmaker Debbie Lum poses with Steven and Sandy, her documentary subjects, on their wedding day. It's hard to watch Seeking Asian FemaleDebbie Lum's uncomfortably close look at the phenomenon some call "yellow fever" — when usually non-Asian men fetishize Asian women as romantic or sexual partners — without squirming. And at first, it seems like it wasn't so easy for Lum to document the phenomenon.
She told me this guy had one of the "worst cases of yellow fever" she has seen. Steven, an earnest, bespectacled, white American man with an unsettling penchant for Asian females, is not exactly the most appealing of Asian Girl Looking suitors.
He has a tendency to evaluate women based on their level of "Chineseness. You know I like that. You can't look any more Chinese than that. He seems to lust after Asian women for their supposed beauty and docility. What do I want? There's this Vietnamese movie called Asian Girl Looking Scent of Green Papaya that has this servant girl who cooks these beautiful meals. Gee, would it be like that? Meet Sandy, a year-old woman from the Anhui province in China.
Sandy finds Steven on an online dating site and seems to be seeking a potential entryway to the U. She takes two separate photos of them and makes a sort of endearing, sort of creepy couples picture, much to his delight.
Steven visits her a few times in China, they hit it off and she comes to the states on a K-1 engagement visa.
Sure, Sandy takes "Asian Girl Looking" of him. But she's hardly the demure lady he hoped for, just as he's hardly the flashy American she might have expected. Throughout the film, a frustrated Sandy describes wanting to get out of the relationship as soon as she has enough money and schooling. I cringed a lot. When a frustrated Sandy confesses that she'd "lose face" if she told her family and friends in China about her house-less, money-less American beau, I found myself asking, Why are you doing this?
Over the course of the film, something remarkable happened for me. Sandy and Steven, together, started to seem like it may not be such a bad thing after all. Steven kisses a photo of Sandy, his bride from China.
There was something unsettling about the film, and my reaction to it.
Why was I feeling sympathetic to Steven, who Asian Girl Looking Asian women? Can a relationship, borne out of something perhaps a little twisted on both sides, evolve into something genuine? Is it even fair to judge someone else's relationship? Lum, who like me is Chinese-American, told me 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.
But Asian Girl Looking she made the film, Lum's thoughts changed, sort of like mine. After Lum settled on Steven as a subject for her documentary, she thought the film would be about his relationship with Sandy.
She had no idea that she'd become intimately wrapped up in their courtship: When Sandy finds a cache of photos of Steven's ex-girlfriend on his computer — the ex was Chinese, natch — she freaks out.
Lum translates their fight. Lum refuses to translate that for him. I'm hoping for the best. As Lum gets closer to the couple, she starts to see beneath the surface of their relationship — that there might be genuine feelings. Lum, by the way, is married to a white Irishman. But she says her relationship with her husband is different than Steven and Sandy's. I came to this film thinking of Steven as "an Asian fetishist" and of Sandy as "an opportunist.
Asian Girl Looking of their relationship — their fights, their daily interactions, their worries — became incredibly human, completely relatable to an outsider.
This narrative still doesn't sit well with me. The way Steven thought about Asian women — stripping them of their individuality, on pre-conceived ideals, replacing people with types — was challenged when he met Sandy, a real person with layers of her own. They might make the relationship work, yes, "Asian Girl Looking" I might even want them to.
But in that case, their road to happiness feels marred with potholes that still need to be examined and considered. A man we believe to be Steven Bolstad, Seeking Asian Female's documentary subject, responded to the post in the comments section. We also reached out to filmmaker Debbie Lum to comment and are waiting on her response.
Here's what Steven had to say. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player. Code Switch Filmmaker Debbie Lum sets off to make a documentary about men with Asian fetishes and unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of the story, acting as a bridge in a relationship. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email.
May 11, 9: It's hard to watch Seeking Asian Female, Debbie Lum's uncomfortably close look at the phenomenon some call "yellow fever" — when usually. What are pros and cons of marrying an asian Asian Girl Looking Anyway, you have the same reason for coming here — looking for a foreign spouse who will be the best. As someone who grew up as a darker-skinned Asian girl, I knew I did if I was adopted and that he couldn't fathom how different we "Asian Girl Looking."