Darrell Hamamoto Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PN1995.9.A78C68 2000 | Dewey Decimal 791.436520395
Spotlighting Asian Americans on both sides of the motion picture camera, Countervisions examines the aesthetics, material circumstances, and politics of a broad spectrum of films released in the last thirty years. This anthology focuses in particular on the growing presence of Asian Americans as makers of independent films and cross-over successes. Essays of film criticism and interviews with film makers emphasize matters of cultural agency -- that is, the practices through which Asian American actors, directors, and audience members have shaped their own cinematic images.
One of the anthology's key contributions is to trace the evolution of Asian American independent film practice over thirty years. Essays on the Japanese American internment and historical memory, essays on films by women and queer artists, and the reflections of individual film makers discuss independent productions as subverting or opposing the conventions of commercial cinema. But Countervisions also resists simplistic readings of "mainstream" film representations of Asian Americans and enumerations of negative images. Writing about Hollywood stars Anna May Wong and Nancy Kwan, director Wayne Wang, and erotic films, several contributors probe into the complex and ambivalent responses of Asian American audiences to stereotypical roles and commercial success. Taken together, the spirited, illuminating essays in this collection offer an unprecedented examination of a flourishing cultural production.
Ends of Empire examines Asian American cultural production and its challenge to the dominant understanding of American imperialism, Cold War dynamics, and race and gender formation.
Jodi Kim demonstrates the degree to which Asian American literature and film critique the record of U.S. imperial violence in Asia and provides a glimpse into the imperial and gendered racial logic of the Cold War. She unfolds this particularly entangled and enduring episode in the history of U.S. global hegemony—one that, contrary to leading interpretations of the Cold War as a simple bipolar rivalry, was significantly triangulated in Asia.
The Asian American works analyzed here constitute a crucial body of what Kim reveals as transnational “Cold War compositions,” which are at once a geopolitical structuring, an ideological writing, and a cultural imagining. Arguing that these works reframe the U.S. Cold War as a project of gendered racial formation and imperialism as well as a production of knowledge, Ends of Empire offers an interdisciplinary investigation into the transnational dimensions of Asian America and its critical relationship to Cold War history.
"Whereas some other scholars read selected films mainly to illustrate political arguments, Roan never loses sight of the particularities of film as a distinctive cultural form and practice. Her drive to see 'cinema as a mechanism of American orientalism' results in not just a textual analysis of these films, but also a history of their material production and distribution."
---Josephine Lee, University of Minnesota
"Envisioning Asia offers an exciting new contribution to our understandings of the historical developments of American Orientalism. Jeannette Roan deftly situates changing cinematic technologies within the context of U.S. imperial agendas in this richly nuanced analysis of 'shooting on location' in Asia in early 20th century American cinema."
---Wendy Kozol, Oberlin College
"Through her vivid illustration of the role of American cinema in the material, visual, and ideological production of Asia, Jeanette Roan takes the reader on a journey to Asia through a very different route from the virtual travel taken by the viewers of the films she discusses."
---Mari Yoshihara, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
The birth of cinema coincides with the beginnings of U.S. expansion overseas, and the classic Hollywood era coincides with the rise of the United States as a global superpower. In Envisioning Asia, Jeanette Roan argues that throughout this period, the cinema's function as a form of virtual travel, coupled with its purported "authenticity," served to advance America's shifting interests in Asia. Its ability to fulfill this imperial role depended, however, not only on the cinematic representations themselves but on the marketing of the films' production histories---and, in particular, their use of Asian locations. Roan demonstrates this point in relation to a wide range of productions, offering an engaging and useful survey of a largely neglected body of film. Not only that, by focusing on the material practices involved in shooting films on location---that is, the actual travels, negotiations, and labor of making a film---she moves beyond formal analysis to produce a richly detailed history of American interests, attitudes, and cultural practices during the first half of the twentieth century.
Jeanette Roan is Adjunct Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts and author of "Exotic Explorations: Travels to Asia and the Pacific in Early Cinema" in Re/collecting Early Asian America: Essays in Cultural History (2002).
Cover art: Publicity still, Tokyo File 212 (Dorrell McGowan and Stuart McGowan, 1951). The accompanying text reads: "Hundreds of spectators gather on the sidelines as technicians prepare to photograph a parade scene in 'Tokyo File 212,' a Breakston-McGowan Production filmed in Japan for RKO Radio distribution." Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
From silent films to television programs, Hollywood has employed actors of various ethnicities to represent "Oriental"characters, from Caucasian stars like Loretta Young made up in yellow-face to Korean American pioneer Philip Ahn, whose more than 200 screen performances included roles as sadistic Japanese military officers in World War II movies and a wronged Chinese merchant in the TV show Bonanza. The first book-length study of Korean identities in American cinema and television, Hollywood Asian investigates the career of Ahn (1905-1978), a pioneering Asian American screen icon and son of celebrated Korean nationalist An Ch'ang-ho. In this groundbreaking scholarly study, Hye Seung Chung examines Ahn's career to suggest new theoretical paradigms for addressing cross-ethnic performance and Asian American spectatorship. Incorporating original material from a wide range of sources, including U.S. government and Hollywood screen archives, Chung's work offers a provocative and original contribution to cinema studies, cultural studies, and Asian American as well as Korean history.
In The Hypersexuality of Race, Celine Parreñas Shimizu urges a shift in thinking about sexualized depictions of Asian/American women in film, video, and theatrical productions. Shimizu advocates moving beyond denunciations of sexualized representations of Asian/American women as necessarily demeaning or negative. Arguing for a more nuanced approach to the mysterious mix of pleasure, pain, and power in performances of sexuality, she advances a theory of “productive perversity,” a theory which allows Asian/American women—and by extension other women of color—to lay claim to their own sexuality and desires as actors, producers, critics, and spectators.
Shimizu combines theoretical and textual analysis and interviews with artists involved in various productions. She complicates understandings of the controversial portrayals of Asian female sexuality in the popular Broadway musical Miss Saigon by drawing on ethnographic research and interviews with some of the actresses in it. She looks at how three Hollywood Asian/American femme fatales—Anna May Wong, Nancy Kwan, and Lucy Liu—negotiate representations of their sexuality; analyzes 1920s and 1930s stag films in which white women perform as sexualized Asian characters; and considers Asian/American women’s performances in films ranging from the stag pornography of the 1940s to the Internet and video porn of the 1990s. She also reflects on two documentaries depicting Southeast Asian prostitutes and sex tourism, The Good Woman of Bangkok and 101 Asian Debutantes. In her examination of films and videos made by Asian/American feminists, Shimizu describes how female characters in their works reject normative definitions of race, gender, and sexuality, thereby expanding our definitions of racialized sexualities in representation.
In a nuanced exploration of how Western cinema has represented East Asia as a space of radical indecipherability, Homay King traces the long-standing association of the Orient with the enigmatic. The fantasy of an inscrutable East, she argues, is not merely a side note to film history, but rather a kernel of otherness that has shaped Hollywood cinema at its core. Through close readings of The Lady from Shanghai, Chinatown, Blade Runner, Lost in Translation, and other films, she develops a theory of the “Shanghai gesture,” a trope whereby orientalist curios and décor become saturated with mystery. These objects and signs come to bear the burden of explanation for riddles that escape the Western protagonist or cannot be otherwise resolved by the plot. Turning to visual texts from outside Hollywood which actively grapple with the association of the East and the unintelligible—such as Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo: Cina, Wim Wenders’s Notebook on Cities and Clothes, and Sophie Calle’s Exquisite Pain—King suggests alternatives to the paranoid logic of the Shanghai gesture. She argues for the development of a process of cultural “de-translation” aimed at both untangling the psychic enigmas prompting the initial desire to separate the familiar from the foreign, and heightening attentiveness to the internal alterities underlying Western subjectivity.
What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hyper-technological terms in literary, cinematic, and new media representations, while critically examining the stereotype of Asians as both technologically advanced and intellectually primitive, in dire need of Western consciousness-raising.
The collection’s fourteen original essays trace the discourse of techno-orientalism across a wide array of media, from radio serials to cyberpunk novels, from Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu to Firefly. Applying a variety of theoretical, historical, and interpretive approaches, the contributors consider techno-orientalism a truly global phenomenon. In part, they tackle the key question of how these stereotypes serve to both express and assuage Western anxieties about Asia’s growing cultural influence and economic dominance. Yet the book also examines artists who have appropriated techno-orientalist tropes in order to critique racist and imperialist attitudes.
Techno-Orientalism is the first collection to define and critically analyze a phenomenon that pervades both science fiction and real-world news coverage of Asia. With essays on subjects ranging from wartime rhetoric of race and technology to science fiction by contemporary Asian American writers to the cultural implications of Korean gamers, this volume offers innovative perspectives and broadens conventional discussions in Asian American Cultural studies.
Yellow Future examines the emergence and popularity of techno-oriental representations in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s, focusing on the ways East Asian peoples and places have become linked with technology to produce a 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.
Park provides a genealogy of oriental style through contextualized readings of popular films-from the multicultural city in Blade Runner and the Japanese American mentor in The Karate Kid to the Afro-Asian reworking of the buddy genre in Rush Hour and the mixed-race hero in The Matrix. Throughout these analyses Park shows how references to the Orient have marked important changes in American popular attitudes toward East Asia in the past thirty years, from abjection to celebration, invisibility to hypervisibility.
Unlike other investigations of racial imagery in Hollywood, Yellow Future centers on how the Asiatic is transformed into and performed as style in the backdrop of these movies and discusses the significance of this conditional visibility for representations of racial difference.