Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flower Drum Song response

I thought this movie was quite good. Many people were quick to point out the stereotypical images of Asian Americans presented in the movie. Most noticeable are the "Dragon Lady" image of Linda Lowe and the "Lotus Blossom" image of Mei-Li. However, I thought most of the characters had considerable depth, especially if you consider that time period in which this film was released. Linda Lowe is seductive, yes, and uses her beauty to get what she wants, but her real desire is to find someone she can marry. Mei-Li is at first shown to be obedient and expressionless, but shows clear signs of hurt and love when she believes Wang Ta is not interested in her. In the end, she cleverly discovers a way to get herself out of the marriage with Sammy, rather than giving up or relying on someone else to rescue her. These aspects make these characters much deeper than the stereotypes we believe them to have.

Also, the portrayal of males in this film are also atypical. Wang Ta, in particular is considerably more masculine and charismatic than most of the asexual Asian male portrayals we see today. Even Sammy Fong does not fit exactly with those stereotypes.

The film covers a lot of issues, from female sexual identity to generational differences between old China and Asian America, as well as issues of assimilation and acceptance. I don't believe the characters are just another set of stereotypes. I believe the depth and charisma of each of the characters is clear evidence that they are trying to break out of them. What the overall message of the film is might be a good topic for discussion.

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