Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The (creepy) yellow man and the (creepy) girl

When watching broken blossoms, I couldn't help but feel creeped out. A lot of this feeling came from the theatrical style of the film and it's characters because in a lot of ways everything was overdone. The facial expressions, makeup, character personalities, were all fairly extreme. These characteristics of the film work well in portraying the narrative and defining the characters, but also created a lot of issues.

Because all the characters were portrayed in such extremes they all ended up being very stereotypical. To portray the yellow man, all his characteristics had to be accentuated and clear because being a yellow man seemed to be a huge part of his character. If his character was cast as a white man, there would be no issues, because he would just be a shy, awkward, alien-like, white man. But the fact that his character is Asian, creates a significant stereotype. At this time in history, all people of Asian descent, stuck out like sore thumbs in western society, so when someone came across one, they would immediately try to apply all their preconceptions to this person. And as a widely distributed movie, these images likely had a significant affect on those preconceptions.

Also because of the extreme portrayals of the other characters in the movie, such as Battling Burroughs ultra-masculine, tough guy, character and Lucy's helpless pure white woman character, there are endless comparisons to be made to the yellow man. Although, this film is highly progressive for its time. The simplistic and theatrical style of the film, lends to the establishment of inaccurate and in the end negative stereotypes of the Asian male.

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