Monday, March 10, 2008

Homosexuality in The Wedding Banquet

I thought that the movie “The Wedding Banquet” had a very interesting depiction and interpretation of the Asian reaction to homosexuality in traditionalist culture. Before watching the film, I didn’t know how homosexuality was received in traditional Asian culture so I was curious to find out how Wai Tung’s parents would act knowing that their son was in a sexual and romantic relationship with another male. In one really crucial scene to the advancement of the plot, Wei Wei lies onto of Wai Tung and strongly pushes him to have sex with her. When he asks her what she is doing she says, “I am liberating you.” I thought this was a powerful choice of words because it suggests that Wai Tung is trapped or ensnared in his homosexuality and that Wei Wei is trying to set him free. Perhaps she is liberating him from his constant and ever present life of lies and releasing him out of his homosexuality to live as a “proper” and “normal” Asian man.

Wai Tung’s mother’s reaction to his homosexuality also presents a similar message to the audience as Wei Wei’s initial belief that Wai Tung’s sexual orientation can be changed. When Wai Tung tells his mother that he is gay, she replies, “Simon has led you astray.” This suggests that she believes that as a good Chinese boy, he could not be responsible for his homosexuality. In his mother’s eyes, there must be some one else responsible, someone else who has misguided her son. And interestingly, she blames Wai Tung’s white lover of her son’s transgression. According to Mark Chiang’s article “Coming Out into the Global System,” “For most parents, being Asian and being gay are mutually exclusive…it is only a problem for white people: ‘it’ is a white disease” (Chiang 276). I interpret Wai Tung’s mother’s comments as to imply that Simon contaminated Wai Tung and that Simon passed on his homosexuality sickness onto Wai Tung.

Wai Tung’s mother’s later explanation to why her son might be gay is also a reflection of her traditionalist mindset. She tells Wei Wei, “Maybe a women hurt him and he has developed a psychological problem.” This suggests that the mother believed that there had to be some cause that led to Wai Tung’s homosexuality and not that he was born gay. His mother’s use of words, describing homosexuality as “a psychological problem,” insinuates that she doesn’t believe that it is a genetic problem and is instead a coping mechanism to his fear or poor emotional experiences with women in the past. To her, it is not biological—it is something wrong with his head.

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