Friday, January 2, 2009
You Make My Heart Feel Super Happy
And a Happy New Year! I hope everyone's had some good times these past few days and that your resolutions have lasted at least till Day 2. Today itself brings a series of firsts here:
-first post of 2009
-first non-poetry post
-first pop culture post
-first time I've encountered this show, specifically Ni Hao, Kai-Lin:
First off, how wonderful it is to have a kids' show like this gem. In a world of entertainment that's all too condescending towards variety, having different people of different colors only to fit a quota and not making them into full-fledged characters, we have a cartoon about a Mandarin Chinese girl teaching the Nick Jr. audience elements of Chinese culture and how learning multiculturalism through friends benefits everyone.
Best of all, unlike some other Asian-born properties (as opposed to Asian American), this show doesn't go out of its way to hit the cutesy factor, as all the character and background designs are very much intentionally connected to the cultural lessons, tying the visual with the educational.
Now, I know you're asking, "Ryan, why are you reviewing a show aimed at toddlers and kindergarteners?" I have two answers for you: 1. Shut up and 2. I was channel surfing when the image of an animated yellow-skinned 6 year old girl popped up on the screen. Intrigued, I kept the channel on, half-expecting bad accents, stereotypical music and fortune-cookie mysticism. Imagine my surprise when Mandarin was littered here and there amongst the English dialogue, how colorful everything was, and how Kai-Lan herself embraced her origins. I remember back in grade school how I would downplay my own upbringings, how I would refuse to say anything in Tagalog because I felt it set me apart from a group I wanted to belong to (and much later would I realize that I shot myself in the foot once I forgot those words. Apparently being a polyglot is a very good skill both professionally and socially). I wouldn't call my titos "Tito" in front of my friends, but rather instead call them uncle, and I would very much downplay the fact that I was the only Asian in my grade school class (after the 6th grade, that is).
If there was a show like Ni Hao, Kai-Lin back in my youth, or even a Filipino-American version of this show, created and developed by Fil-Ams, I'm pretty sure I'd totally nose-dive into the experience. It wouldn't just be empowering to see someone like me at the age of 6 with his own TV show (though that's no mere feat), but there's also the comfort in knowing that there are tons of kids out there from all backgrounds who would watch and love the show, learning and embracing the show's multicultural lessons and shaping youth into little cultural explorers, like Dora but on a yellow-scale. Then again, back when I was six, the market for Asian-American entertainment was pretty darn hostile. That's all the more reason to have Ni Hao, Kai-Lin.
Come to think of it, for all my friends who are quickly becoming newlyweds and/or new parents, I would happily recommend this show. Now if they can put in a Yo Gabba Gabba-esque soundtrack...