by on Jul.02, 2012

ASSIMILATION IS SINCERITY: foreigners, maids, & Love…


1. In order to be sincere you have to have interiority; You have my heart, my darling; You see right through me; You see who I really am inside, etc etc, your eyes are beautiful, eyes are the window to the soul, blah blah roses kisses put babies in me, forever future, never ending love.

2. Even in the cheapest romantic comedy there is this one absolute Rule that needs to be obeyed: The Rule of Sincerity. You HAVE to arrive sincerity at the end; reveal who you really are, accept who he/she really is; pour your heart out, fall in love, roses kisses put babies in me, forever future, never ending love.

3. Why is it that forwarded “cute” emails are filled with annoying pictures non-human love?



Robot love, kitty love, omg it’s so cute the audience goes awwwww & blah blah blah.

4. Is it that it relieves us to see love in other creatures with questionable interiority?

5. “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

6. Of course they may.

7. Mommy cats often eat her babies.

8. Doggies too.

9. But still…. “Love gives meaning to life”; “Love makes the other trustworthy”; “Love makes us honest”; Love Actually.

10. Actually, all this was a set up for arriving this question, my real motive…

: Can Foreigners love?



The Problem of Foreigners Número Uno: Foreigners are impenetrable.


One of the questions immigrants were asked at Ellis Island: “Do you sing or talk to yourself?”

If the answer is yes, you faced further scrutiny, questions, and/or detention.

Nobody likes impenetrable noises.  Nobody likes impenetrable.

Your language should be transparent for me. My language should be able to penetrate you, get to your brain, ya knucklehead.


Foreigners make noises impenetrable; what are they talking about? what if they are talking about me?

(I’m not gonna lie. I have spoken in foreign language with my also-foreigner friends to gossip about the white girl sitting right next to me.

More than one time.

All the time.)

& their logic is impenetrable— why the fuck does Consuela from Family Guy say “More Lemon Pledge?” and “No” like a broken record all the time? (answer: because she is one)  And why is Fez from that ‘70s show so inexplicably horny all the time?

and it’s not like they can or are willing to explain…

( Bartleby: I prefer not to.

Consuela: No. )



When I write “interiority” my spellcheck machine recommends “inferiority”….


NOW WE ARE BACK! Can Foreigners Love (in tv/cinema/popculture)??????

No matter how endearing Fez is, he can never be “in” love (another “in”teriority language). TV Love requires sincerity, and sincerity requires interiority. Fez only has comical horniness, but it is impossible for him to be in Love. His accented English, his comic relief existence prevents him from achieving interiority; nobody knows why he is obsessed with sex in the way that he is; nobody knows where he is from; nobody knows what his plan is (why is he even here, the small town in Wisconsin?). The only suitable “girlfriend” of his is the Crazy Caroline, another character with broken interiority, another impenetrable logic, another—in a loose sense— foreigner.


I’m sorry for my comical interiority. My heart goes out to you, and now it is flapping on the floor.


Of course, as the show arrived its season finale, the closure that feels sincere and nice and aww had to arrive, even for Fez. But can you imagine Jackie and Fez seriously in love? It is never convincing. I don’t trust foreigners.


It is comforting to see creatures with questionable interiority “falling in love” …*


But there are foreigners characters in cinema&tv that DO fall in love.

When do foreigners become trustworthy?

How, if possible, do foreigners achieve interiority?

And how, if possible, do foreigners earn sincerity & fall in love?


The only way for the impenetrable foreigner to remain impenetrable but achieve proper interiority is exoticism.

A pleasant exoticism. Beautiful faces. Their fluent “beautiful” sounding language that makes contrast to their cute broken english.

Unthreatening. Submissive. Caring. Yeah, Pretty maids would do.


Exhibit uno: Flor in Spanglish; Aurélia in Love Actually




Mmm, girl, Subtitle looks good on you.



Even after achieving/proving interiority by being beautiful, unthreatening, caring, responsible, and loving her own kind (what makes Flor trustworthy is her caring for her daughter), those exotic foreigners have to arrive THE Sincerity to fall in love with American. Good Ol’ American Sincerity.

Sincerity 101: Learn English



To overcome being impenetrable ; To not become “More Lemon Pledge?”; To stop being the Other…you have to adopt the Logic, the Language.

Love Actually had to end with Aurélia learning English.

Spanglish also had to end with Flor learning English.

The gesture of learning English, the promise of assimilation is what grants her the sincerity points.

(without learning english, there is no way for them to escape suspicion from the audience with their noise/language, odd demeanor … “is this a gold-digger scam?” “a greencard-digger?”)

(+ Without Aurelia learning English Love Actually’s ending can be seen disturbing.

The writer, the one who supposed to have superior interiority than anybody succumbing to the foreign language of a… maid? “Will he become the Other too?”)


Final note:

I thought it was really interesting & disturbing that Spanglish ended with Flor leaving John’s family (despite falling in love with John and learning English), pulling her daughter Cristina out of the private school John enrolled her into, her explanation to her upset daughter being “Is what you want for yourself to become someone very different than me?”

Even with the interiority, sincerity, and Love that she worked hard for and earned, there was another trap for this foreigner maid in cinema; she had to avoid accidentally triggering “they took OUR job!!!” response. They had to return to their proper place, which is NOT the nice private school that John provided. That’s “OUR” place. That’s “OUR school”.

(I talked about the issue of “stay in line” in Johan the scrivener post. The post was about Class and “staying in line”  but  this logic applies to Foreigners as well. )

In short: it doesn’t matter if Foreigners can achieve interiority/sincerity/ Love.

Know your place, foreigners. Keep it to yourself, foreigners.



5 comments for this entry:
  1. drew

    jiyoon, this is phenomenal. i keep thinking about this too, about sincerity always having to be this interior thing, this motive. i’m more interested in a branded idea of sincerity (branded skin, branded self). it’s the sincerity worn on the body (like carina’s post a bit ago about costume as sincerity). consuela is totally sincere in her desire for lemon pledge because she wears the costume of the maid, her costume implies the desire for more cleaning products. fez is totally sincere in his horniness because he wears the costume of the teenage boy, teenage boys are always horny. that’s their brand, their costume worn bodily, embedded into their bodies. you never see consuela in a different outfit because then she wouldn’t be her self. fez is always that goofy kid because otherwise he wouldn’t be his brand, his branded body. anyway, i know i’m way off your point. i love this idea that the foreigner must learn english to gain interiority. like the american dad character toshi. he never speaks english but is granted subtitles. he needs the subtitles to exist. still, he is different, suspect. anyway, i got carried away. really enjoyed reading this.

  2. Jiyoon

    @ Drew: yay I’m glad you brought up the costume issue; I talked about costume of maid and foreigner in the first draft of this post, but I cut that part because I just went on and on, and it started feeling like a whole another post.
    Maid in Manhattan was the movie that I was using to connect the idea of costume/branded body. In the movie, literally the only thing the maid(played by Jennifer Lopez which complicates the costume issue even further; the only reason audience felt comfortable watching this film that turns class a costume might be that they all secretly kept in mind that JLo makes a lot of money & is a celebrity just in the costume of maid? ) needed to fall in love with this rich man was the costume of rich woman. But in the last scene of JLo and Rich man’s embrace & kiss (awww), JLo had to be in her maid dress, because that is who she really is, that costume is her, that’s the only mode in which she can be sincere & confess love. Costume is interiority. Costume is Sincerity. …As long as you function well as your role (staying in line) –this is where Consuela becomes suspicious. although she wears her maid costume: she always has extraneous thing going on, playing music, bringing her cousin to work, other than being a good maid.

  3. Kristen

    I’m intrigued by this idea of branding = sincerity, especially in the instance of cat love/robot love. Cuddling kittens and heart-shaped robots are dressed in the garb of sincerity, and we need no deep interiority. Sincerity is a mask in the shape of a robot wearing a kitty costume.

  4. Kim

    Love this! That if we are too speak sincerely, we must speak in the same language. “Let us speak sincerely” -> “Let us agree”. The poem, whatever, since we share the same language, have in a way, already been read, which would explain why the movie must end when such a bond has been established, to continue would throw the characters into more insincere foreign spectacles.

    Or something.

    From what I understand it’s quite popular to set up and live as a cat, or dog, a literate cat, in third person, in various online dwellings.

  5. Johannes

    been watching the hbo series game of thrones fascinated by the role of the particularly swedish foreigner. there are no less than two incetuous overly blonde brother-sister couples who threaten the welfare of the nation. theor blondeness and genetic purity identified their threat. the dragon girl poses an especially formidable threat when she hooks up with the mongol/black heathen savage tribe ver fittingly. but she makes the mistake of falling in love and becoming thus more human but this also leads her to hatch dragons – ie shes extra exotic.