My brother was super kind to get me The Big Sick a few days after my birthday. I want to share some of my thoughts on this film, because it hit close to home.
Finding your voice
While the story is centered on love, I do think it is also dependent on Kumail finding his own voice as a comedian and as a Pakistani American. He has to come to terms with his place in the middle of two seemingly different cultures.
He finds the balance between comedy and boring exposition. I remember the whole “this is your name in *insert native language here*” tricks just to get people to see that I won’t be scary. And, in some ways, I understand the struggle to place oneself in the grand conversation of the world.
So, obviously, I’ll have to talk about the romance. Ultimately, Emily is this nice white girl, who is cool and unique. She is clever and funny, sweet and strange at times. The big sickness she deals with is terrifying and harrowing.
Her family show a sense of belonging and acceptance of her and her history. It’s sweet to see them welcome Kumail after hesitating at first. I think the love story in this film is also between the two parents and their grappling with infidelity.
universal family problems
I suppose it was a nice depiction of universal familial tensions when faced with accepting new members and significant others. I like that this is portrayed without being too preachy or idealistic.
I am literally sighing. Look, I love the story, please don’t get me wrong. However, I want to say a few things here. First, being American doesn’t mean you erase your culture. There can be Muslim Americans. I deeply dislike this apologetic view of faith, like you can’t be a modern person and still practice a religion that is old like Islam.
Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the assumption that marrying a white person would allow for integration into western society is shallow and woefully untrue. I wished Kumail would embrace his culture, introduce it to Emily, and uncover the mystery of how to marry both cultures into his life.
Believe it or not, we are capable of multitasking and containing multitudes in general. There is no need to reduce oneself to a single pill with no complicated ingredients.
Yet, I respect his story and I appreciate it. Maybe if there’s more interaction and overlap between different cultures and races, people would be more tolerant. I do wish there was a more nuanced discussion of culture and identity, though. In addition, I wish there was more variety in our stories on immigrants and the quest to come to terms with identity.