Sunday, March 9, 2008

Response to The Wedding Banquet

I think the film did a really fine job of portraying all sides of the dilemma. Of the films we've watched so far in this class, there has been a clear villain and hero, but in The Wedding Banquet, the only apparent "villain" is culture itself, and the characters' desires not to disturb traditions. Towards the beginning, it was made very clear that the parents would be very unhappy with Wei Tung's homosexuality and I thought maybe the parents would be portrayed as the bad guys. But it turns out it was very easy to sympathize with them, to the point where I wasn't sure who I was supposed to root for. If I am for the keeping of Asian traditions, and the parents' earnest desire to have a daughter-in-law and grandchild, then I should root for the deception. If I am for the more American ideals of individual freedom, then I should be rooting for the homosexual couple. I went back and forth between both, and if the Ang Lee's intent was to portray that tension, he did an excellent job.

The general portrayal of Asian homosexuality seems to be positive. Often the criteria for the "authentic" Asian place homosexuals outside the circle. Asian homosexuality is often viewed as a "contamination" by the sexual freedom of white society in America. The film makes it very clear that it is rejecting this notion in the scene when Wei-Tung comes out to his mother. She asks, "Did Simon lead you astray?" and Wei-Tung emphatically responds, "No! I was born this way".

However, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. The resolution occurs when Wei-Wei decides to keep the baby, and Wei-Tung's father reveals his acceptance of Simon. Ultimately, it seems the film itself is rooting for family traditions. It could be argued that the film ultimately rejects homosexuality's place in the Asian family because the film's resolution occurs via heterosexuality (i.e. the grandchild). On the other hand, I think the film does open up a space (albeit a small space) for homosexuality in the Asian family. Even though the family decides to hide in secrets, Wei-Tung and Simon are allowed to continue their relationship

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