Angry Reader of the Week: Alice Wu

"Anytime you can increase the human capacity for empathy, you've won."

Photo: K.C. Bailey

Greetings, good people of the internet. It is time, once again, to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Alice Wu.

Who are you?

These days? I'm a filmmaker. An improviser. An order muppet. An unashamed lover of soft rock. (I still have Fleetwood Mac's Rumours on vinyl and at least once a year, I lie on my floor and listen to it over and over and over... I get older, but my internal dreamy obsessive teen stays the same.)

What are you?

A Chinese-American lesbian who is very close to her family. My parents were young immigrants when they came to this country. Both were born in China (mother from Anhui, father from Suzhou) and both were young children when their families fled for Taiwan where they grew up, and where I still return once a year. I was born here. Mandarin was my first language. I learned English in school.

Where are you?

In San Francisco, strictly sheltered-in-place during the pandemic.

Where are you from?

Born in San Jose, but we moved quite a bit. And I probably didn't fully feel at home in the world until I moved to New York City.

What do you do?

I like stories. Hearing them and telling them. Sometimes that takes the form of a film. Sometimes it's just a really great conversation with a friend.

What are you all about?

I guess I like to think that as humans, we're more similar than we're different. I test that theory by creating stories that have a commercial hook, then populating them with characters you don't usually see on screen. And, so far, the theory holds. I've seen this now with both my movies. I made them with a lot of cultural specificity... and yet I'm always amazed how many people from so many socio-economic backgrounds feel like it tells "their story." And I suppose, to me, that's hopeful. If I can get a 50-year-old straight, conservative white guy to identify with a 17-year-old closeted Chinese immigrant girl -- or her depressed widowed immigrant father -- I've done my job. Anytime you can increase the human capacity for empathy, you've won.

What makes you angry?

Honestly, I'm not that comfortable with anger. Which is funny, because I'm actually quite furious! (Right now, in fact! I just got home from a long, cautious bike ride -- masks, social distancing, the whole bit -- just filled with rage for the folks sans-masks blithely whipping past pedestrians (within inches!) with no regard for the regulations. Sigh. Perhaps they're lovely people. BUT I ALSO WANT TO CRUSH THEM.)

Anyhow... I think the thing that pisses me off more than anything is entitlement.

I don't mind when people make mistakes -- god knows I do and say stupid sh-t all the time! -- and part of what unites us is our flaws. But I prefer it when we acknowledge that we're works in progress, that the world doesn't make any us inherently better, and that all we have is our ability to stay curious about each other. So there is a value in considering everyone else's experience of the world, in addition to our own.

angry archive