As the "Incredibles 2" excites everyone that has waited since they saw the first movie as a child, Pixar releases the perfect short film to show before the movie. "Bao" is written and directed by Domee Shi, the first woman to direct an animated short for Pixar. The story was inspired by Shi's childhood, whose parents immigrated to Canada from China.
(Spoiler ahead!) The short tells a story of a Chinese mother going through empty nest syndrome. When one of the baos she made comes to life and resembles a child, she is given a chance to motherhood again. She forms an inseparable bond with her son, the little bao, but it is cut when he enters his teenage years and begins to resent his mom the more she tries to protect him. Her son eventually gets married and moves out, which the mom prevents by eating him. This is the scene that caused confusion.
Some viewers missed the metaphor that Shi created. The bao represents the lonely and aging mother's son. Her relationship with the bao resembles the relationship she had with her son until he moved out to start his own life. We see that the mom became stricter and more overprotective as her son tried to become independent. It hurt her to see him pull away because she felt like he was rejecting her to be in his life.
During those eight minutes, all I could think of was my own mom because the short hit right at home. My mom is the most nurturing woman I know. She was very hands-on with me and my brother. She could not be separated from us. We went wherever she went. If the mom from "Bao" bought her son rolls every time they went out, my mom would always treat us to our favorite waffle dogs.
I remember being in elementary school and having to an overprotective mom. As an adventurous kid, I wanted to try everything, so I would get upset with my mom when she would not allow me to do certain activities. By high school, she had laid out more rules for me. There was a time I went through a rebelling phrase because I felt suffocated. It wasn't until later on I would realize that she just wanted the best for me and keep her place in my life.
Now, I realize that the West do not completely understand what it is like to grow up Asian (especially as a child of immigrants), which is the evident reason "Bao" left some white American viewers confused. One of the many things Asian moms do to show their love is through food. In the short film, the mom cooks her soon many different dishes to cheer him up, which is what my mom also still does to this day for me and my brother. Food is what brings many Asian families together.
Family is very important to our culture. As much as I wanted to move out when I was hit a certain age just like many of my non-Asian friends, it hit me that it would be the hardest thing ever, both for me and my mom. In our culture, children are encouraged to stay with their parents until marriage in most cases. It is another reason a lot of Asian mothers struggle to let go because they expect their children to be with for a long, long time. They tend to think that they don't have a place in their children's lives anymore once they become independent.
"Bao" was made for the children of immigrants because it accurately portrays our relationship with our mothers during our childhood as well as adulthood. That is why it has touched mostly Asian children.