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November 25, 1986 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-25

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The Michigan Daily

ARTS
Tuesday, November 25, 1986

Page 5
-11

Cinema's s
stereotypes
By Raymond Lin The movie presents its st
the point of view of th
I agree with the critics. They've settlers. We are supposed
been more or less unanimous in Dirk's delight in finding
their panning of Tai-Pan, Holly - Chinese sex toy that take
wood's latest mediocre attempt at an abuse and then comes
"epic." The movie deserves all the more. The Asian slave girl
censure it gets; it is just simply ted in the film are not dev
bad. However, in their discussions characters. All that May-
of the film's poor acting, shallow the girl covered with bloc
plot and general boringness, the marks do is cringe in fea
reviewers all ignore an aspect of masters and submit tc
Tai-Pan which is particularly commands. We gain n
loathsome: it is racist. into these women's tho
A story about British colonists personalities; they are ir
who settle in 19th-century Hong less-than-human, just ther
Kong, Tai-Pan relies on many the scenery pretty and to
offensive Asian stereotypes, the provide a nice release of t
same ones that abound in Holly - the white man after his h
wood productions today. That these work.
stereotypes appear so frequently to Unfortunately, the di
unquestioning audiences makes one type of portrayal of Asia
wonder if the viewing public even found in Tai-Pan does not
recognizes them as being racist. that movie. In Michael
People need to become more aware Year of the Dragon, Mick
of the bigoted treatment Asians plays a New York City
receive in the movies, to identify finds himself both attract
racism when it appears and to not hateful towards a Chines
so easily accept it as just harmless reporter (played by Ari
entertainment. constantly mocks her f
We see in Tai-Pan a negative Chinese and in one scene
stereotype of Asian women: that of a rage where he bla
the meek, subservient sexual suffering during the Viet
plaything who somehow enjoys on her "people." She pr
being abused and dominated by responds by going to bed
white men. Much of the movie In one tender scene witi
depicts the sexual relations between Mickey expresses his
the British colonists and their towards his Chinese love
Chinese women. But these scenes do I want to fuck you so b
do not involve romance between Even Rambo gets
loving couples. No, the key ingre- action when he picks up
dient here is domination. A slave Vietnamese woman whi
girl, May-may (played by Joan his way through the ju
Chen), cowers to the movie's hero, Vietnam. When it's time f
Dirk Struan (played by Bryan leave, she stares passivel
Brown), and vows that she will use eyes and in heavily
all her effort to please him-her English pleads, "Let me
lines delivered in timid pidgin you." Afterwards, they
English. When Dirk gets angry at passionate kiss. These n
her, she drops to her hands and relegate Asian women to
knees and begs for forgiveness. role. They are timid se)
Brown's character yells at his slave lacking true feelings, w
girl, threatens her with violence and being dominated by white
demands subservient behavior from who always say "yes."
her, yet she remains unyielding in Asian men receive a
her desire to please her man. kind of treatment in the
Another British settler in the movie American movies repeated
takes his abuse a step further. In type them as asexual,
one scene, he ties a naked Chinese foreigners, little queer-acti
woman to the wall and whips her to be made fun of and thro
until she is bleeding and screaming. a sure laugh like a pie in ti
0 The most unsettling thing about a reference to farting. John
the film's degrading treatment of the director who tries sc
Asian women is that it all is made create sensitive, percept
out to be acceptable, if not alluring. perpetuates the Asian ma

elling

of Asian

should stop

tory from
e British
[to share
g a little
es all his
back for
s exploi -
eloped as
-may and
ody whip
r of their
o sexual
o insight
ughts or
n a sense
e to make
dutifully
ension for
ard day's
sgraceful
n women
end with
Cimino's
ey Rourke
cop who
ed to and
e woman
ane). He
or being
flies into
mes his
nam War
edictably
with him.
I Ariane,
feelings
er: "Why
ad?"
into the
a young
le killing
ungles of
for him to
y into his
accented
go with
lock in a
novies all
the same
x objects
ho enjoy
men and
different
cinema.
ly stereo -
clumsy
Jng things
own in for
Lhe face or
n Hughes,
o hard to
ive films
le stereo -

type with the character of Long
Duck Dong (played by Getty
"Uncle Tom" Watanabe) in Sixteen
Candles. Our friend, Long Duck, is
a Chinese foreign exchange student
who speaks broken English, chases
white women and does his best to
appear clumsy and out of place.
Hughes makes direct jokes about
his Chinese background: much
hilarity is gained from Long Duck's
funny accent and we hear the sound
of a gong whenever he appears on
camera.
An almost identical character
appears in Revenge of the Nerds.
Takashi, who hails from Japan,
parades around in a bright yellow
(get it?) warm-up suit, though at
other times he enjoys dressing like
a kamikaze pilot. A white football
player asks him if he knows karate
and when he doesn't, throws a
jockstrap in his face. Takashi rides
in a tricycle race while the audience
is treated to a rendition of "Bicycle
Built for Two" sung in Japanese.
Finally, who can forget the
lovable Japanese businessmen in
Bachelor Party who, clad in their
underwear, chase a white woman
around their bedroom exclaiming,
"This sure beats eating sushi!"
The usual defense of these
stereotypes is "It's only in fun," and
"They make fun of everybody."
Bullshit. For some reason, the
same people who can identify
harmful stereotypes against other
racial or religious groups fail to do
so when it comes to Asians. Fifty
years ago, having white people
wear shoe polish on their faces and
try to act black was considered
harmless fun. Back then, racist
characterizations like Buckwheat
and Farina and Amos 'n' Andy were
only in fun. It used to be considered
fun to portray Jews as all having
long beards, big noses and being
stingy with money. But today, the
American public has awakened up
and recognized these stereotypes for
the disgusting racism they are.
Why, when it comes to equally
offensive Asian stereotypes, does
everyone just sit back and laugh? '
Similarly, people defend the
racism in Tai-Pan by saying it's a
movie about the past, that "people
don't really think like that
anymore" and that a movie
depicting white enslavement of fo -
reigners is similar to Roots, which
wasn't offensive at all. What these

people don't realize is that Tai-Pan,
unlike Roots, does not condemn the
past practice of white domination,
it glorifies it. In Roots, the heros
were the victimized blacks,
struggling to maintain decent lives
in the face of terrible oppression. In
Tai-Pan, the heroes are the white
males who do the oppressing. The
advertisement for Tai-Pan quotes a
Playboy reviewer who praises the
movie: "I had a great time being
bamboozled back to an era when
men were men and women were
waiting to reward the victors." The
makers of Tai-Pan realize that the
white male fantasy of dominating a
passive Asian sex slave is a
marketable product. Their adver -
tisement shows that they deli -
berately set out to bring in the
profits by promoting racism.
No, Tai-Pan is not Roots. But
what if Roots was made like Tai-
P a n ? Can you imagine a
Hollywood epic saga set in the pre-
Civil WarSouth glorifying a white
plantation owner who abuses his
female slaves, who in turn enjoy
the treatment and can't wait to
please their master some more? Uh,
I don't think so.
That this hypothetical epic is so
entirely implausible shows how
effectively blacks have championed
their cause. After the sweeping civil
rights movement of the 1960's no
one would dare make the movie
described above and risk offending
not only black but also white
audiences who have become more
sensitive to that kind of racism.
Unfortunately, when it comes to
racism against Asians in the
movies, the public remains unaware
and even accepting. Perhaps this is
the case because few Asians have
stood up and protested the stereo -
types like blacks have..
Nevertheless, the racism against
Asians in the movies, like all
racism, affects everybody. That
such prejudice appears in a country
whose whole national vision is
based on equality and individuality
is both surprising and shameful.
People must be made more aware of
the Asian stereotypes so common
in current American movies. People
must learn to recognize this racism,
reject it and not reward those
responsible for it with their dollars.
Until this happens, nothing will
ever change.

Singing fot life:Daily Photo by ANDI SCHREIBER
Blues/Jazz singer Joe Williams was one of the many artists at last Sun-
day's Jazz for Life benefit concert at Hill Auditorium. Other performers
included Stan Getz and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Jazz for Life raises
money for und-rnrivileged children in the Wa htenaw County area.

The University of Michigan School of Music
presents
UNIVERSITY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Gustav Meier, music director
Yizhak Schotten, viola
Works by Beethoven, Hindemith, Mendelssohn, Rossini,
Bartok, de Falla, Mozart
TUESDAY, NOVMEBER 25 8:00 PM
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Records

pElvis Costello
Blood and Chocolate
Columbia
For those of you who thought
that the pre-Punch-the-Clock Elvis
Costello was history, and you were
doomed to Wham!-quality pop
songs from this enigmatic fellow,
take a listen to his new LP Blood
*qnd Chocolate. For those of you
who thought Punch the Clock was
Elvis' history, piss off because this
album's not for you.
Blood and Chocolate is a rock
and roll album, as Elvis has been
promnising his skeptical fans for
some time. Not only that, but it is
an excellent rock and roll album. It
marks a return to the basics for.
Elvis. For starters, he has given up
the idea of reverting to his real
name, Declan Patrick MacManus,
which just doesn't have the same
appeal. He has regrouped with the
Attractions after experimenting
with a new lineup on his previous
LP, King of America. Nick Lowe,
Elvis' former producer and fellow
British pop-rock god, has returned
to produce Blood and Chocolate
b and has honed Elvis' usually

album, just enough to be mildly
annoying. That finger is then
removed and the song bursts into
the chorus which, as a result,
comes off so powerfully melodic
that it'll make you cry. Then it
slows down, then it speeds up
again.
This pattern of verse-chorus-
verse-chorus is a basic one which
Elvis repeats, almost to extremes,
on several other songs. "Tokyo
Storm Warning" maintains a
hypnotic shift of melodies from
verse to chorus throughout its epic
length in which the chorus returns
five times. The chorus of "I Want
You" consists of those three words
repeated after every line. It's a
simple method, but works very
effectively, conveying a sense of
urgency. "Battered Old Bird" tells
the story of four people while tying
them together with the same chorus
descriptive of all their lives. Aside
from Elvis' usual wordplay his
experimental use of the choruses is
the only way in which this album
strays from being uncomplicated.
"I Hope You're Happy Now" and
"Honey Are You Straight Or Are

Elton John
Leather Jackets
Geffen
A preface to the actual review:
before running out and paying
money for Leather Jackets, check
out the photograph on the back
cover. If the sight of Elton decked
out in the latest Judas Priest
fashion does not ward you off, this
still could be the record for you.
Read on.
Elton John's latest release is
extremely mediocre. Never offen -
sive and always listenable, it
remains steadily shallow. These are
strong accusations of the man who
gave us the now classic "Your
Song," "Rocket Man," etc. Elton
John is showing strong signs of
creative burnout.
The opening song and title track
rocks along like Wham's! "I'm
Your Man," and the sleek "Don't
Trust That Woman" is a well
executed Stevie Wonder imitation.
These are the best he has to offer,
and they are not much.
What really drags the record
down is the excessive "Nikita"
knockoffs. That ballad was pleasant
enough and deservedly did well on
the charts. The slew of clones on

No one faces cancer alone.
Call us.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
HAPPY
THANKSGIVING
From All Of Us At
DASCOLA
STYLISTS
OPPOSITE MAPLE
JACOBSON'S VILLAGE
668-9329 761-2733

THE SEVA FOUNDATION PRESENTS
An Evening With RAM DASS
"Cultivating the Heart of Compassion"
Psychologist, Philosopher and one of America 's foremost spiritual teachers

01

Seaholm
High School
Auditorium

"
=-s , '
"
t h
,
'
-.. t
Irv

7:30 p.m.
Sunday,
Nov. 30th

'I

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