As someone who has advocated strongly for Asian American representation in media as well as passage of the Adoptee Citizenship Act, I wanted to support Justin Chon’s Blue Bayou film.
Although skeptical about a non-adoptee leading this project, I hoped they had done the proper legwork and community outreach to tell this critical story with care. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
This film (as written) should never have moved forward without the express permission of Adam Crapser, a deported Korean adoptee, who received a message from Chon back in 2017 confirming it was his story that inspired the screenplay.
Reclaiming our stories (and choosing when/how/if to tell them) is one of the very few ways in which we have some agency as adoptees. Justin and the Blue Bayou team robbed Adam, from whom so much has already been taken, of that agency.
As glowing reviews for Blue Bayou roll in—drowning out our concerns—please understand that this is what happens to us… every time.
Our small, yet connected, adoptee community rallies together to challenge systemic injustice. But our numbers are too few, reach too limited, and power nearly non-existent. People tell us to be grateful.
The people with money and influence—instead of acknowledging harm that has been done—attempt to intimidate us into silence. Flood the media with their counter-narrative. Find a few token “good” adoptees to use as the face of their cause and say that *we* are creating the divide.
To be clear, my critique is not of the film as an objective cinematic work. Or denying how important awareness is.
I believe storytelling is the best way to build empathy and open hearts. My question is… at what cost? (And at whose expense?)
In the end, it’s not really about a movie. Watch Blue Bayou or #BoycottBlueBayou. Justin Chon and the studio’s bottom line won’t be any more impacted by the absence of our support than the billion dollar adoption industrial complex.
None of this is new to us. But that’s why adoptees are so resilient. We are not going away.
( Photo of Adam Crapser used with his permission. Taken by Jes Eriksen, fellow KAD)
Want other ways to support the cause besides watching the movie? Follow Adoptees For Justice and sign this petition urging Congress to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021: https://www.allianceforadopteecitizenship.org/petition