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Yellow Future

Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema

Jane Chi Hyun Park
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Yellow Future
    Book Description:

    Yellow Future examines the emergence and popularity of techno-oriental representations in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s, focusing on the collective fantasy of East Asia as the future. Jane Chi Hyun Park demonstrates how this fantasy is sustained through imagery, iconography, and performance that conflate East Asia with technology, constituting what Park calls oriental style.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7525-8
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    Appropriately enough, the idea for this book came from a movie. Several summers ago I saw the science-fictionclassic Brazil(1984) on the big screen for the first time. I had seen the film many times on television as a Korean American girl growing up in the American Midwest and Southwest of the 1980s, yet watching it again as a slightly more critical adult I was struck by two startling images in the dream sequences, of which, oddly, I had no memory.

    The first image was that of a huge samurailike robot attacking the hero, who had been transformed from...

  4. 1 Style, Visibility, Future
    (pp. 1-28)

    Yellow Futurebuilds upon and contributes to ongoing conversations in ethnic studies, film and media studies, and cultural studies around Orientalism, technology, and multiculturalism. In the following pages I show how a critical examination of “oriental style” can bring some of these conversations together. I end by focusing on the title of this book, meditating on howfuturemight be made to mean something other than the goal of a progressive multicultural narrative or the “positive” representation of a marginal group in the dominant culture. Such a narrative not only falsely equates visibility with power but also assumes that members...

  5. 2 An Oriental Past
    (pp. 29-50)

    Rave reviews and huge box office returns forThe Dark Knight(2008), the most recent installation of the Hollywood comic franchise, underscore the relevance of Batman as a superhero for our age. Unlike most of his counterparts, who are aliens (Superman) or mutants (Spiderman), Batman has no supernatural powers. Instead, his existence is a testament to the powers of Western science and a celebration of the technological prostheses that constitute the cyborg. In addition, his motivations and actions are less clear-cut, more complex and ambiguous. Batman thus blurs the lines between good and evil, human and machine, and, as I...

  6. 3 American Anxiety and the Oriental City
    (pp. 51-82)

    Blade Runneropens in the year 2019 with a bird’s-eye view of nighttime Los Angeles, belching fire and glittering neon. A surveillance car whooshes out from the darkness, then plunges back into the city toward a golden pyramidshaped ziggurat. A huge unblinking eye is superimposed on the façade of the building before the camera takes the viewer into one of its rooms. Holden (Morgan Paull), a middle-aged bureaucrat, languidly smokes a cigarette as he administers a Voigt-Kampf test, similar to a polygraph, to Leon (Brion James), a nervous, wide-eyed sanitation worker. When Leon asks him questions about the test, Holden...

  7. 4 Oriental Buddies and the Disruption of Whiteness
    (pp. 83-124)

    The specter of the unborn child ofBlade Runner’sDeckard and Rachael, a mixture of human and machine, recalls the largely forgotten figure of the “television child” introduced by Marshall McLuhan a little over forty years ago at a television studies conference in Austin, Texas. In his paper McLuhan associated the nonlinear mode of watching TV with the East (Asia) and the linear mode of reading books with the West (United States and Europe).¹ He concluded that North American youth, assumed to be of European descent, were becoming more Asiatic through their exposure to television. According to McLuhan,

    The television...

  8. 5 Martial Arts as Oriental Style
    (pp. 125-162)

    A year after Sony acquired Columbia Studios, Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa won an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement and the fifth–highestgrossing movie in the United States wasTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.¹This live-action film was based on a comic by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman that featured a quartet of pizza-eating, genetically altered street turtles trained in the martial arts by their sensei, a wise first-generation Japanese American rat. According to Marsha Kinder, the film helped solidify an already existing “supersystem” of media and consumer products around theTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesconcept, including an animated television show, a...

  9. 6 The Virtual Orient
    (pp. 163-196)

    Seventeen years after E.T. demolishedBlade Runnerat the box office, an eerily similar scenario appeared in Hollywood. George Lucas’s heavily publicized first prequel to his space operaStar Warsbowed at theaters in May 1999, two months after the debut of an intriguing cyberpunk film by two geeky young brothers from Chicago. Once again, a feel-good, cross-marketed science-fiction blockbuster squared off with a dark, noirish film about human beings and technology. The outcome in 1999, however, was decidedly different than that in 1982. AlthoughStar Wars I: The Phantom Menacemore than recouped its production costs, it was the...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 197-200)

    A decade after the release ofThe Matrix,Asiatic tropes and imagery permeate the popular culture of a nation that, on the surface, seems devoted to acknowledging and celebrating its racial and ethnic diversity. Most nonwhite Americans, meanwhile, know the limitations of this mediated multiculturalism, which falsely advertises the achievement of a colorblind meritocracy wherein people of color have come to possess the social and political privileges taken for granted by the majority of white Americans.

    Yet these limitations do not wholly diminish the impact of the growing presence of nonwhite bodies, cultures, and spaces in U.S. popular media generally...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 201-204)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 205-226)
  13. Index
    (pp. 227-255)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 256-256)