Wok Like A Man (1987) is a music video with substance that explores the reasons for immigration/immigrant experience. I produced it in 1987 after hearing my son talk trash about his Chinese immigrant classmates at a San Gabriel Valley high school. `They don't know anything,' he grumbled, `They stick together and won't even talk to you. Why don't they go back to China?' I was stunned by his intolerance. He is a Yonsei, a fourth generation Japanese American, whose great-grandparents were born in Japan. I told him that his own ancestors, not so long ago, had had their own problems with adjusting to America and having America adjust to them. Our discussion made me think about all the immigrants that make up America; why they might have left their native countries, what they lost and gained as they made their ways in a new land. I also thought about how all immigrants, from the freshly arrived to the comfortably assimilated, live very different lives. These musings evolved into a docudrama about three Chinese Americans, a wok chef, a young urban professional, and a teenaged skateboarder.
Wok Like A Man is a MTV look-alike designed to appeal to the young viewer, but with a meaningful perspective on immigrant roots and present realities. Thankfully, my son grew up to be a thoughtful, demanding, yet tolerant individual who was hopefully influenced by the discussion that led to this video.