Other Reflections · Taiwan

3 Obscure Aspects of My Taiwanese-American Upbringing Featured On Netflix |《雙城故事》讓臺裔美國人的me最有共鳴的三點

I recently finished watching the show, “A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities.” It’s the story of two women, Jo and Nien-nien, who decide to switch cities and living arrangements: Jo, a Taiwanese-American from SF decides to move in with Nien-nien’s family in Taipei, and Nien-nien, a Taiwanese from Taipei, decides to move to SF.
我最近看完《雙城故事》,劇情描述兩位決定交換住處的女生,就是美國舊金山土生土長的台灣移民第二代Jo和一輩子活在台北大稻埕的李念念。

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yeah, um, not my style

To be honest, it was a little too sentimental, cheesy, and slow for me. But, even as I fast-forwarded through many of the scenes, its accurate portrayals of the Taiwanese-American immigrant experience kept me captive.
說實在,這部戲劇對我來說有點太過感性、太少女情懷、太拖,但是就算要跳過很多段落,我還是願意把它看完,因為它完美地描繪出臺裔美國人的經歷。

The number of uncanny similarities between my upbringing and that of the Taiwanese-American female lead, Jo, leads me to believe that the people behind the show actually did serious research. So here are three ways this show really nailed it.
我的成長環境跟女主角Jo的成長環境有非常多雷同之處,編劇很顯然沒有光依據ABC相關的刻板印象做設定,而是有認真做功課!究竟是哪幾點讓我這麼的欣賞呢?!就讓我為大家整理出這部戲裡最真實的三個地方!

1. Taiwanese Church | 台灣人的教會

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Jo’s mom praying

After moving to the U.S., many Taiwanese immigrants joined local churches. In areas with a large Taiwanese population, there were even Taiwanese churches. In my home state of New Jersey, I remember there being at least three Taiwanese churches.
移民美國之後,許多台灣人會選擇參加當地的教會,在台灣人聚集的地方還會出現專屬台灣人的教會,沒記錯的話,我所在的紐澤西州就有至少三間。

And, as shown in “A Taiwanese Tale,” many of these churches have sermons in Taiwanese (Hokkien)! Attending a worship service in Taiwanese is like attending a college lecture in Taiwanese, where your textbook (the bible and hymn books) are also in Taiwanese.
就如同《雙城故事》所呈現的,這些教會常常都會提供台語禮拜!上台語禮拜是什麼樣的感覺呢?大家可以想像自己回到大學的講堂裡,但是教授使用的語言不是國語也不是英語,而是台語,課本(聖經,詩歌集)也都寫著台語漢字以及羅馬字。

In a few scenes, Jo prays in Taiwanese, which also brought back many memories for me. Despite not having gone to church in a long time, I can still recite several prayers in Taiwanese, such as the Apostle’s Creed. It’s practically burnt into my memory!You can hear the Taiwanese version here.
劇情中也有不少Jo用台語禱告的段落,讓我想起以前在教堂用台語朗誦祈禱文的時候,就算好幾年沒回教堂了,也還是背得出一些祈禱文,其中我還能倒背如六的《使徒信經》如下(大家可以試著用台語念看看!):

「我信上帝,全能的父,創造天地的主宰。我信耶穌基督,上帝的獨生子,咱的主。祂由聖神投胎,由在室 女馬利亞出世;在本丟彼拉多任內受苦,釘十字架,死,埋葬落陰府;第三日由死人中復活,升天,今坐在全能的父上帝的大傍;祂要自彼再來審判活人與死人。我 信聖神。我信聖,公同的教會,聖徒的相通罪的赦免;肉體的復活,永遠的活命。阿們。」(點聽真人閱讀)

2. Taiwanese Immigrant Gatherings | 台灣同鄉會

Besides the church, Taiwanese immigrants could also meet other immigrants through associations of Taiwanese immigrant. In the show, Jo’s mom hosts some local gatherings, which really brought back memories.
除了教會,台灣移民也能透過台灣同鄉會的活動認識其他台灣人,劇情中就有演出台灣同鄉會聚在一起的畫面,在看這部戲之前我其實已經好幾年沒聽到「台灣同鄉會」這五個字了,讓我好懷念!

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a Taiwanese immigrant gathering, where Nian-Nian teaches everyone taichi

When I was in middle school, we would often go to such gatherings. There were barbecues, sports games, etc… and always people speaking Taiwanese. Recently, there are more young Taiwanese immigrants, who speak in Mandarin amongst themselves.
我還記得我國中的時候,我們那區的台灣人會聚在一起,烤肉、打球什麼的,而會參加這類聚會的台灣人大多是講台語的人!不過最近也滿多說國語為主的年輕人。

Also, in the story, Jo’s father was blacklisted by the Taiwanese government for playing a prominent role in social activist movements in the 70s/80s. This meant that the government did not allow him to return to Taiwan. (Back in the day, they needed a visa to re-enter Taiwan.) When I was in middle school, I also heard that there were some uncles in the Taiwanese associations who had been blacklisted and could not return to Taiwan, even to visit their dying relatives. So yeah… that was a real thing, and it’s cool that this aspect of Taiwanese-American history was recognized in the show as well.
依據劇情設定,Jo的父親因為在台灣積極地參加社會運動而被台灣政府黑名單(禁止回台灣),我國中的時候也有聽說同鄉會的某某阿伯被黑名單過,最無奈的是,想回來看生病的父母最後一眼也不行。能在這部戲當中看見這段專屬台灣移民的辛酸歷史,感覺很特別,鼓勵各位看這支影片多瞭解瞭解。

TTTCdad
Jo’s father “reunited” with his mother

3. Immigrants’ Negative Perceptions of their Home Country | 台灣移民對自己故鄉的偏見

In the show, Jo’s mother cannot fathom why her daughter would ever want to live in Taiwan. She is even more exasperated when Jo decides to activate her Taiwanese citizenship. After all, she had a good job in San Francisco; Taiwan is just taking time away from her bright future.
劇情中,Jo的母親無法理解她女兒為什麼想回台灣住,而Jo下定決心辦台灣身分證的時候,她更覺得匪夷所思,在她看來,Jo在舊金山有穩定的工作、光明的前途,何必回台灣無意義地浪費生命呢?

As a Taiwanese-American living in Taiwan now, this could not resonate with me any more. When I told my mother I wanted to stay an extra year to get the Taiwanese ID card, she literally rolled her eyes, sighed, saying, “I really don’t understand why you’re doing this. You’re really just wasting your time.”
身為一位居住台灣且正在辦身分證的移民第二代,這個畫面太 了!當我告知母親大人說我要在台灣多待一年,辦身分證的時候,她也是大翻百眼,唉聲嘆氣地說,「我真的不懂,你這樣只是在浪費時間而已。」

To put things in context, Taiwanese people also wonder why people like us decide to come to Taiwan. “What’s so great about Taiwan?” they think. However, this mindset is even stronger among Taiwanese immigrants who left Taiwan 30-40 years ago. They also can’t come back often, and even when they do, they tend to shuttle back and forth between family members. So they don’t really understand how much Taiwan has changed since they left.
當然,很多台灣人也有同樣的疑問,我在台灣也常常會被問,「台灣有這麼好嗎?!」,可見認為「美國就是比台灣好」的人,不只是台灣移民,但是這種想法在第一代移民的思維中特別強烈,畢竟他們是30-40年前出國的,一過去就好幾年沒回來,就算回來也只是到處探親,沒什麼機會體會台灣大環境的變遷,對家鄉的認知就難免停留在出國時尚未發達、尚未民主的台灣。

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So when their children want to come to Taiwan, they have a heart attack. “We immigrated to the best country in the world and you want to go back?!?!”
因此,聽到子女想回台灣發展的時候,他們會被氣到差點得心臟病、一心想著「我們好不容易移民到全世界最好的國家,你竟然想回去?!?!?!?!」

That’s a wrap! | 結論

There are many other things I could talk about, but now is probably a good time to sign off.
另外還有許讓我感同身受的地方,但要全部寫出來的話會沒完沒了。

My only gripe with the actress who plays Jo is that she speaks English with an obvious Taiwanese accent. Jo is supposed to be born and raised in the U.S., so when I watched the first episode and heard her accent, I wondered why they couldn’t find a Taiwanese-American to play her role? Rather than getting a Taiwanese actress and training her to speak Mandarin/Taiwanese with an American accent, they could have gotten a Taiwanese-American actress to play the role. The other Taiwanese-American role, Ryan, is played by a Taiwanese-American, so I don’t quite understand this casting decision.
唯一美中不足的是,飾演Jo的演員,英文有很明顯的台灣腔,一聽就知道是台灣人扮演的,如果Jo被設定是國中的時候搬去美國的話,我還可以接受,但是《雙城故事》的第一幕就宣稱Jo是美國土生土長的孩子,所以她的台灣腔一瞬間打破了這部戲的寫實感,大家可以想起陸劇突然冒出台灣腔造成的違和感。導演為什麼硬要找台灣演員,還要她練好英文,要求她學會ABC怪腔怪調的國台語,簡直是為難台灣人,找個ABC不就得了!而且台灣這麼多ABC,另外一位ABC主角就是給正港的ABC去飾演,我對這個選角決定滿頭問號。

Finally, I’d like to end by saying that there are many different Taiwanese diaspora experiences. There are Taiwanese families, in which the mother and children move to America, but the father stays in Taiwan, families that go back and forth between Taiwan and the U.S., etc.
最後,我必須澄清台灣移民的經驗很多元,有些家庭是父親留在台灣工作,母親帶著孩子去美國生活,還有一些家庭是長期往回於美國台灣兩邊的,以此類推。

So the parts that resonated with me may not be resonate with everyone. But regardless, I’m sure everyone in the diaspora will be able to see a part of themselves in this show.
因此我這套模式並不是所有台灣移民的生活經歷,也就是說我最有共鳴的這三點也許不是大家所共同經歷過的,但是相信所有移民者都能夠在這部戲裡身歷其境。

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