YOU KNOW, WE'RE clearly at a cultural flux, a juncture, a pivot point. Forget the demographic data and studies, which trail the cultural shifts by years. The early anecdotal clues more often tell the tale.
So during ESPN's recent broadcast of the New York Knicks - Los Angeles Lakers game at Madison Square Garden, I caught a quasi-post-racial moment that you rarely see on mainstream TV: A young sports fan held up a hand-made sign hailing Knicks rising star Jeremy Lin, while poking fun at the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, basketball's reigning king over the past decade. "Kobe, Better Luck Tomorrow," the sign read.
As film buffs know, the sign alluded to Better Luck Tomorrow, an acclaimed independent film made 10 years ago by Justin (Fast and Furious) Lin and released by MTV Films and Paramount Pictures. The movie is one of the rare mainstream films in Hollywood history that portray Asian Americans beyond the tired stereotypes. And this clever Knicks fan, in a big ballgame seen by millions, had linked the dots and made the cultural reference.
The success of basketball star Lin and filmmaker Lin (no relation) may be blips in the cosmic scheme of things, but it marks a fresh step forward in U.S. and global pop culture, which more people follow than business and politics. Maybe we're making progress in the new century.
(Photo, above) Better Luck Tomorrow by filmmaker Justin Lin, MTV Films and Paramount Pictures. Better Luck Tomorrow debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002 and is one of the rare mainstream movies to portray Asian Americans beyond the tired stereotypes. Theatrical release poster under a Creative Commons license on Wikipedia.