This year's Academy Awards were held on Sunday, February 24. Upon the initial announcement of the Oscar nominees, many were surprised to see "Crazy Rich Asians" completely missing from the list, especially following the film's momentum through award season. However, there is still plenty to celebrate in the world of Asian Americans following the awards show, including Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin's win in best documentary for "Free Solo," and, of course, Domee Shi's win in best animated short for "Bao."
"Bao" was the accompanying short film to "Incredibles 2" in theaters. The film represented aspects of Domee Shi's Chinese heritage, bringing her culture to a mainstream audience. However, its impact runs far deeper than just its visual components. Asian viewers could see their own stories depicted in the parent-child relationship in "Bao." We could remember our own moms while watching the mom in the film prepare food for her dumpling son, and we could reflect on our own relationships with our parents while watching the son grow more distant from his mother. "Bao," for many, was a deeply nostalgic and personal experience. It told the story of many Asian immigrants and children of immigrants in a way that is hardly seen in mainstream media.
Seeing a film like "Bao" being produced by such a large company as Pixar, not to mention it being presented alongside such a highly anticipated movie as "Incredibles 2," was in itself an impactful moment for Asian Americans. To see "Bao," a film that depicts the stories of so many members of the Asian-American community, receiving an Oscar is something very much worth celebrating. It is not only a win for the film itself and Domee Shi, but for the Asian community as a whole.
"Bao"'s win shows that the stories of Asian Americans can be successful and is, hopefully, another step towards improving the representation of Asians in Hollywood and mainstream media.