Eye Of The Story
Sam Schrager
Close Viewing
Zoe Wright
2/22/16
My America Or Honk If You Love Buddha:
Journeys of Self

There are a lot of stories about people finding themselves, coming of age, or searching out answers to questions of their ancestry, history, or parentage. There’s a lot of uncertainty in people, especially young people I suppose, about who they are and what their place in the world might be.
Many of these stories involve some kind of journey, a lot of awareness, and no small amount of introspection. And it seems these stories, no matter what form their journey takes, rely in some part on the world and people around that journeying person.
Of course these things may seem too obvious to point out. We all have read coming of age stories, we have all had our own, and maybe some of us are still on one of those numerous self finding journeys. But as I think about My America I felt like it was an important reminder.
When you’re searching for a place in the world, for the kind of person you want to be in the world, you are exploring the way your relate to that world around you. I’ve listened to conversations and videos on the subject of identity, and I’ve myself defended the need for people to recognize labels, because labels and pieces of identity contribute to how you interact with the world. A label that speaks to your race, gender, culture, or fandom doesn’t reduce you to simply being that one or two word phrase, it signifies a way in which you relate to the world that may be the same, slightly different, or vastly different than those around you.
It may sound like I’m rambling, but I assure you, I do have a point.
To deny a label that a person has adopted for themselves is to say that I don’t think you count in that way or that the ways your experiences is different are meaningless.
Over your life, the way you think of yourself changes. You’re a kid and a girl or a son or a sibling. Then suddenly somehow you’re not a kid anymore. You’ve had life experience, even though it might not seem like much, and you’ve learned a lot about the way you’re supposed to interact with the world based on those experiences, but you probably don’t know how you need to interact with the world. I know I’m just beginning to find my way.
Finding the way you relate to the world takes a lot of effort and exploration. You have to find what you like, what you don’t like, what things you want to be part of yourself. Sometimes it involves finding out about your family’s past, or traveling across the country visiting important places. Maybe you need to meet a lot of different people to understand who you are yourself. Sometimes in these stories of journeys of self a stranger says something seemingly insignificant that changes the entire perspective of the trip.
In My America, she is searching for, or trying to find out if it exists, an Asian America. Or what it means to live a truly Asian American experience. She talks to a lot of different people as she travels across the country in her van.
She visits important places and talks about her own history.
She incorporates local music styles into the movie – the story of her journey.
She looks at the way traditions are carried out in different places, and how they’re mixed with modern ideals and difficulties.
She is on a journey of self, one that she documented. To tell the story because maybe it would mean something to someone else, maybe it would contribute to someone else’s journey.
Of course those reasons may not have been present, or intentional, but as I write this that’s what I imagine them to have been.

At some point in the middle or end of the movie, I believe, there’s a line that says something like this: “I was searching for Asian America, and I found America. I found my America.”
This idea, this line, this moment, is what stuck with me most from the movie. I think it spoke volumes.
Her experience was different. It was unique, individual. Because that’s what human experiences are. But also, in some way, it was part of something greater. It was part of an America that was, at least for that moment, not just Asian, not just not Asian, but hers.
That America could be something personal, and mean something different to every person is a really fascinating idea to me. Because that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a place where anyone can fit in and be a part of the experience. It’s not what happens a lot of the time, so many people are pushed down and away and told they’re not Americans, that they don’t belong and they’re not welcome, or that they’re only welcome if they change all aspects of themselves first. But if more people learn that America can have a lot of different aspects at the same time, if more people can find that America that’s theirs, I think it would be a much more beautiful place to be than it is before that happens.
When you interact with the world, you change it. When you make art, you make a part of the world your own. When you go on a journey of self, you’re lucky if you find a part of the world that you can make your own.
This filmmaker found a world that she could be part of, and through the story she told with her art, she made that world her own.
And while those people she interviewed had their own worlds, they influenced the world she found and chose, and they became part of it along with her.
There is definitely a lot more to this movie than the aspect I’ve covered here, but you don’t need me to show you all the little details of the world this movie shows. You wanted the details that I saw in the film, or the interpretation that my experiences in life allows me to make. And at this moment in time, I wanted to explore how a filmmaker mixes a story about a journey of discovery with her own life’s story, and how you can interact with the world through art and through that explorative discovery make it your own.
To me, the way this film brings up these ideas in my mind, whether they were intended by the artist or not, is really cool. And I look forward to things it brings up in other’s minds.