Dr. Markus Heide’s lecture on immigrants in film was of great interest to me, given my research topic. In particular, his descriptions of the evolution of depictions of immigrants from the well-meaning but tame to the realistic and gritty. What was most intriguing to me was the movement away from immigration-centered narratives into more lighthearted depictions of cultural balance and questions of identity in more recent times. To me, this narrative takes on a “we’re just like you, only ___” tone, similar to the contemporary American comedies Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat. Both shows aim to show the realities of life as a minority in a larger society. This movement towards recognizing differences in background, but not letting them prevent identification with a larger group, is indicative to me of a move towards multicultural understanding.
I realize that I am speaking as an American, from a society that largely considers itself multicultural. At the very least, there is the realization that the “American” identity is a composite conception. I’ve had very little interaction with Germans in the way of discussing how the identify themselves. My conversation partner at the school, Emma, described her life and experiences as those of a typical German student, and only told me that her parents were from Sierra Leone when asked. In contrast, the head of the international student mixer for Humboldt University clarified right of the bat that her parents were Vietnamese in order to explain how her appearance could coexist with her German language and cultural fluency. During our visit to the Youth Museum, Natalie and I learned that when some students learn of rapper Jonni’s Jewish roots, they immediately question their enthusiasm for his music. In this way, I am seeing German youth identify themselves with and perpetuate the distinctions of jus sanguinis policies and ethnic identity in Germany.