As you all know, I am trying to raise a tri-lingual kid. Raised bilingual myself, I place a premium on language learning, just like my grandfather had with me. We have got English down pat. Tagalog is an area we need to work on. His German is fluent. He still makes mistakes, but it won’t be long before he starts correcting my German.
Now my kid loves nothing more than Cars. Like a typical kid, he seriously has fallen for the merchandising Disney trap that I am trying to keep at bay.
So he was watching his Cars 2 DVD a month ago when he requested that we watch it in German. Now I insist that we watch things in their original language, since German is the community language and I have a short time frame to pump the two other languages into him.
When I asked him why, his answer was so clear and mature that it surprised me. “Because only the bad guy speaks German.”
Which is completely understandable. Hollywood still has a tendency to assign a non-American accent to peripheral players and villains. You would never see a gun-toting secessionist from Alabama as a movie bad guy. Now if the only character that my son can relate to is evil, of course he’d rather see the movie without this prejudicial lens.
And if the only Tagalog movies gaining European attention are poverty-core galore, how would that affect my kid’s identity as a Filipino? Is he to think that all Filipinos are violent slum-dwellers? Which is what most Europeans think about us anyway? It’s not a big leap of logic that he may one day completely reject his Filipino side, as I see many Germany-based mestizo kids do.
If American/Western based mass media is to be believed, my son is a nazi slum-dweller with a mail-order bride for a mom who can’t speak fluent German. That ultimately hurts us all, and hopefully, We will get to experience a more inclusive media landscape, where an accent is not considered the proverbial black cowboy hat.
For more information on raising a multi-lingual child, go to multilingualliving.com.