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Better Luck Tomorrow is a movie that was produced in 2002 and directed by Justin Lin. The movie is about a group of Asian-American high achievers who took to crime as an extra-curricular activity and begins to discover the dangers and thrills of fighting against the norm while setting their own boundaries. The aim of this essay is to briefly profile a critical analysis of the movie Better Luck Tomorrow in relation to ‘confronting gender stereotypes.’
In the movie Better Luck Tomorrow, there is lurking danger of having a model minority stereotype in the society while showcasing the extreme of what Asian-American students go through to form a formidable opposition to it. Ben, the protagonist, is an overachieving upper-class student who has a penchant for petty crimes with his friends. We thus see the danger of having the model minority stereotype in society and the extremes associated with Asian-American students. There are set expectations and high standards that are not good especially when they start dictating students’ lives. Ben’s character and actions are very telling of him as well as his friends who are seen as model students in their respective schools. But as Ben struggles to achieve his social highs, we discover his dark side: he leads a double life of mischief that seems to alleviate the pressures of perfection. Ben and his ‘gang’ tumble into an excessive drinking, excitement and fun and his life lurches to danger of drug intoxication and crime that leads to a surprise end to an engrossed audience.
Dealing with stereotypes in the movie is a tricky business as people do not normally behave in a definite way just because they have a certain skin color or because they believe in another religion. It is therefore important that some stereotypes are broken to help students realize that people are multidimensional. The obvious question therefore is ‘whether it is important to portray a person of another race in some negative light or portray them in some ways that reinforces a certain stereotype? Or do the media need to be always positive in displaying some underrepresented Americans? With Better Luck Tomorrow, it shows a discussion that sheds light on some preconceived notions those students from a certain race brings to different ethnicities. Clearly, the model minority stereotype is the reality for many of these Asian-American students. This means that students are subjected to conform to these stereotypes or fight against these ideals. An example is when Steve says that he wants to be like Ben to be able to break the cycle. The cycle here is the traditional path of the Asian-American who performs academically well and goes to college to pursue a career (that is deemed successful say like medicine). Thus, the boys in the film want to break this cycle as they feel that their lives should not be predetermined by the good grades only. As a reaction to this, they form an ‘opposition identity’ that they feel will fight against what people expect of the film.
From the film, we can clearly see that there is danger of putting students in categories as they will fight to get out of it, even if it is positive categories. The movie highlights the problem of Asian-American in schools and how their own conception of themselves can impact negatively not only on their schooling experience but on their lives later in life. The movie is a great accomplishment not just because it is a breakthrough Asian-American movie, but also because it takes the audience through a world never seen before; a balance of dark comedy with provocative suspense that manages to push the limits set by our own preconceived notions.