Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two "Bad Asian" filmmakers

After watching the JJ Chinois video a few times and reading Nguyen’s analysis, I think that Lynne Chan was aiming to reappropriate the construction of Bruce Lee’s masculinity and forefront his “ambi-sexuality.” In spite of all the fun facts we are given about the JJ Chinois (e.g. he’s a Taurus and puts ketchup on everything), there is actually very little we know about Chan’s celebrity creation. By the superimposed shot of a hand playing a keyboard and overall use of a rock star image and associated objects (the floating circle containing glove, sunglasses, underwear, cock ring, etc.), I assumed that he was some sort of musician. The way that Chan cuts between the Bruce Lee I Love You video and JJ Chinois’ makes apparent that she is trying to draw a parallel between the two personas; she often cuts to JJ Chinois in the same posture as the actor playing Bruce Lee in the previous video. However, there is also a marked difference between the highly sexual nature of the Bruce Lee I Love You video and JJ Chinois’ persona in Chan’s video. In fact, because Bruce Lee was always portrayed in his movies as “puritan,” ascetic, and asexual, the BLILY video demonstrates that his sexuality, masculinity, and desirability was created by his fans and viewers rather than by any inherent portrayal of these attributes. In addition, the ambiguity of many of the animated texts such as “I sure feel unconformable being in this situation with you.” And “Please make me clean.” questions the presence (or absence) of sexual undertones that might be interpreted from the images presented by Chan’s video.

As for the Terminal USA, I just had this revelation about the title which probably refers to the grandfather's terminal illness, which is being protracted by what seemed like a life-support device. I agree with everyone else that this is one of the most bizarre (and genious) films I have ever watched. I agree with Kenji that this film reminded me of American Beauty, with regard to its dysfunctional characters placed into a stereotypical suburban family situation, but of course Terminal USA took this to the extreme, portraying every kind of dysfunctional and magnifying it to the nth degree. In an interview with Moritsugu, the interviewer mentioned that he had been labeled as a "transgressive" filmmaker, making me wonder what exactly makes Terminal USA transgressive? I think that beyond the breakdown perfect American family facade, the casting of Asian Americans (who are, importantly, the "model minority") into these roles forces the audience the racialized terms in which we understand what is or is not transgressive.

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