On Asian Stereotypes in American Film
After writing about Jackie Chan’s refusal to take responsibility for the Rush Hour franchise, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even mentioned the fact that the Rush Hour movies are full of eye-rolling Asian stereotypical humor. It’s interesting to see that he’s also cast in next years animated “Kung Fu Panda”, where he’ll be playing Master Monkey! Lucy Liu will be Master Viper! Nobody else Asian in the main cast there, the title panda will be Jack Black and “Shifu” will be played by Dustin Hoffman. Meanwhile Lucy Liu is involved in a Charlie Chan remake, and there’s a Kung Fu remake out there as well.
So thank the gods there’s a Bruce Lee mockumentary coming out, Finishing the Game, by Justin Lin, who made Better Luck Tomorrow, in which he tackled the Asian American overachiever bit. And then there’s the documentary Slanted Screen covering the history of Asian American men in film and television. It points out the ghost of Bruce Lee, and chopsuey in general, looms large over Asian portrayals in Hollywood. Lin makes a similar point:
I think it was a few years ago there was this thing that came out called “The Lost Interviews with Bruce Lee.” It’s this black and white Canadian kind of Charlie Rose type show and they were interviewing him, and it was a great interview. The thing that really blew me away was if you watch that interview and you didn’t know when that interview took place, everything that he was saying could apply to today’s Asian-American actors and today’s filmmakers, so I thought if somehow we could pull it off and make it ’70s, it gave it more context. That was kind of the inspiration.
Somebody go buy Jackie some tickets.
- Bruce Lee 2
- Charlie Chan 1
- Charlie Rose 1
- Dustin Hoffman 1
- Jack Black 1
- Jackie Chan 4
- Justin Lin 1
- Lucy Liu 1
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