Think before you laugh by Addison


American Born Chinese, page 48

In American Born Chinese a book by Gene Luen Yang is about a Chinese-American boy who has identity issues when he moves into a primarily white neighborhood, the author, Gene Yang, uses comic relief to draw attention to the topic of stereotypes that may be uncomfortable to the reader.  When Gene Yang uses humor for comic relief it is usually something we shouldn’t be laughing about. In a PBS Newshour interview by Joshua Barajas, Gene Yang says “Sometimes a stereotype need to be dressed up in bright yellow skin for people to recognize its severity.” For example, readers laugh at the stereotype filled story line of Chin-Kee but there are really offensive stereotypes. On page 48, the reader laughed at the funny pronunciation of words and Chin-Kee’s remarks to Amelia, the girl Danny has a crush on. Those were a couple examples of when the reader shouldn’t laugh at something that is offensive yet we do.

People have laughed at serious things in my lifetime also. This lesson struck home because of a family connection to where people laugh at things that aren’t always funny. In the past years my grandma’s health has been deteriorating, and dementia and the great deal of medicine keeping her alive has taken its toll on her mentally. She has started seeing things and while this sometimes funny it isn’t when she makes my grandpa do something about it. For example, she wakes my grandpa up in the middle of the night because she thinks she saw a mouse when there wasn’t anything there. When I tell some people this it seems funny to them and sometimes they laugh, but it is a very serious issue because neither of them are getting much sleep which is not helping either of their health’s.

My life has some parallel issues to the book. People need to check their own biases because they’re often not true and ignorant. Many times stereotypes are just ignorant, but they become more serious when they are fueled by malice. If the reader could apply lessons learned from the book the world would be a better, more understanding, place. To sum everything up, Gene Yang uses comic relief in the book for a couple of things. One is to bring attention to thing we do in our everyday lives that could be offensive to others. The other is to use stereotypes to prove the theme of the story which is that you can’t escape your true identity.





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