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The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens

The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens: Race, Sex, and Cinema

Gina Marchetti
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 258
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  • Book Info
    The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens
    Book Description:

    The Chinese Diaspora on American Screenslooks at the way in which issues of race and sexuality have become central concerns in cinema generated by and about Chinese communities in America after the mid-1990s. This companion volume to Marchetti'sFrom Tian'anmen to Times Squarelooks specifically at the Chinese diaspora in relation to ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual identity as depicted in the cinema.Examining films from the United States and Canada, as well as transnational co-productions,The Chinese Diaspora on American Screensincludes analyses of films such asThe Wedding BanquetandDouble Happinessin addition to interviews with celebrated filmmakers such as Wayne Wang.Marchetti also reflects on how Chinese identity is presented in a multitude of media forms, including commercial cinema, documentaries, experimental films, and hybrid digital media to offer a textured look at representations of the Chinese diasporic experience after Tian'anmen.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-520-2
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction: Race, Sex, and the Chinese Diaspora in American Film
    (pp. 1-16)

    The Chinese Diaspora on American Screens: Race, Sex, and Cinemalooks at issues of race and sexuality as central concerns in cinema generated by and about Chinese communities in America from the mid-1990s to the present. Examining media works from the United States and Canada as well as transnational coproductions, the book ventures beyond commercial cinema to explore documentaries, experimental films, and hybrid and digital forms that use different aesthetic idioms to discuss the Chinese experience in America. Interspersed with chapters focusing on the textual analysis of specific films are interviews with filmmakers, authors, and others involved in Chinese American...

  6. PART I In the Black Pacific

    • 2 Jackie Chan’s Black Connections
      (pp. 19-65)

      In 2010, a remake of the popular filmThe Karate Kid(1984) came to the screens as a vehicle pairing Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (African American star Will Smith’s son). Rather than featuring a master-student relationship between a Japanese World War II veteran (Pat Morita) and a teenage East Coast transplant to California (Ralph Macchio),¹ the remake moves the story to China and transforms the Asian American–white ethnic duo into a PRC kung fu master and a displaced African American preteen from Detroit. Only a vestige of the Japanese martial art remains—in the English title of the...

    • 3 Interracial Romance in Action: Romeo Must Die
      (pp. 66-79)

      Jet Li serves as Jackie Chan’s chief competitor for starring roles in Hollywood martial arts vehicles. Although Chow Yun-Fat enjoys his share of Asian action in America, he has never been a kung fu star, and his martial arts films have been comparably few (e.g.,Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon[2000]). PRC-born Jet Li, however, emerged as a martial arts star with a background in Chinesewu shuand developed his screen career around his talents in Shaolin kung fu. His journey to American screens differs from Jackie Chan’s, but they do share a common African American connection. Like Chan, Li...

    • 4 Black in the Chinese Diaspora: Double-Consciousness in Yvonne Welbon’s Remembering Wei Yi-fang, Remembering Myself
      (pp. 80-102)

      While Jackie Chan’s films may echo Du Bois’s notion of “doubleconsciousness” and highlight the many ways in which the experience of the Chinese diaspora parallels the African diaspora, as observed in Chapter 2, Yvonne Welbon approaches the common ground between Asia and Africa from a different direction. Just as Chan develops an African alter ego inWho Am I?(1998) to explore the consequences of the divided self within the Chinese diaspora, Welbon uses her Chinese alter ego, Wei Yi-fang, to look at the fact of “double-consciousness” within the African and Chinese diasporas. However, unlike Chan’s comic look at fractured...

  7. PART II Sex, Gender, and Generation in Diaspora

    • 5 Queering the Patriarchy: The Wedding Banquet, Toc Storee, and Dirty Laundry
      (pp. 105-143)

      As David L. Eng has pointed out in his bookRacial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America,¹ Chinese males have been coded within American racial discourse as outside the norms of white heterosexuality. In Hollywood Orientalism, this has manifested as the twin extremes of the asexual or effeminate eunuch and the potent but perverse rapacious villain. In other words, Chinese masculinity always seems to be out of bounds. Even though Chow Yun-Fat has had romantic liaisons in some of his transnational productions, the reticence of Hollywood to place its Chinese martial arts stars, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, in fully...

    • 6 Guests at the Wedding Banquet: The Joy Luck Club, Double Happiness, Siao Yu, and Shopping for Fangs
      (pp. 144-171)

      Following the success ofThe Wedding Banquet(1993), many of the key themes in Lee’s feature began to reappear in other motion pictures about Chinese Americans. Interracial romance, green card marriages, racism against Asian Americans, gay and lesbian Chinese Americans, generational differences within the ethnic community, the divide between the native and foreign born, class differences, gender and patriarchal hierarchies, as well as the political tensions among ethnic Chinese from various locations within the diaspora increasingly appeared on American screens. Although Hollywood did pay some attention, most of these features came out of a meeting of American independent cinema with...

    • 7 In Pursuit of Video Hapa-ness: Banana Split and Kip Fulbeck’s Boyhood among Ghosts
      (pp. 172-193)

      The Joy Luck Club(1993),Double Happiness(1994),Siao Yu(1995), andShopping for Fangs(1997) use narrative fiction to explore the complexities of life within the Chinese diaspora as it intersects Asian America. Experimental video artist Kip Fulbeck covers much of the same ground from a different perspective by using a singularly idiosyncratic biracial voice to look at questions of gender, generation, personal history, and screen mythology in his tapes about coming of age in a racially polarized society.

      Distance makes some features of boyhood seem less significant and other aspects move more sharply into focus. Kip Fulbeck’s preoccupations...

  8. 8 Conclusion: Screening the Chinese Diaspora in the New Millennium
    (pp. 194-200)

    As Jackie Chan’s career over the first decade of the new millennium has shown, diasporic flows have taken a turn to the East, and career prospects for many Hong Kong–based thespians and directors seem brighter in Asia (particularly in the PRC) than in North America. Although many of his performing vehicles continue to place Jackie Chan opposite Americans, films such asThe Forbidden Kingdom(2008) carry him away from the unwelcoming environs of inner-city America back to an imagined martial arts paradise of China’s past. His costar Jet Li goes along for the ride as a reincarnated Monkey King...

  9. Appendix: Filmography
    (pp. 201-204)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 205-226)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-238)
  12. Index
    (pp. 239-242)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)