Sunday, April 27, 2008

JJ Chinois and Terminal USA Response

I actually haven’t seen any underground films until now, and was very surprised by both JJ Chinois and Terminal USA. I watched JJ Chinois before reading the essay in Alien Encounters with a few friends, and I’m pretty sure none of us caught the fact that JJ Chinois is played by a woman. It wasn’t until I read the essay and then watched it again that I was able to see the significance of the scenes from the Bruce Lee movie to JJ Chinois’s masculinity. This brought up quite a few questions – how much does Lynne Chan expect the average viewer to know about Bruce Lee? I personally didn’t know that the scenes with the random subtitles were clips from a movie about Bruce Lee until I read Alien Encounters. Perhaps the fact that I would have never guessed that the male character was supposed to be Bruce Lee goes to show how I (and maybe the general public) would not associate this sexualized image of an Asian American male with the stoic image of Bruce Lee portrayed in his movies. Would the only people who would understand the significance of these scenes be then people who have seen Bruce Lee I Love You before (who may be Bruce Lee fans)?

Terminal USA was a lot easier to follow in terms of plot, but I am still confused about the meaning of everything. In the beginning of Terminal USA, the scene opens with Kazumi doing pseudo-martial arts moves around his room, yelling like one might see in a typical martial arts movie. He tries to yell like this in the following scene when the two druggies confront him, but is quickly pushed down to the ground while one of them yells in a deeper voice. Is this meant to emphasize the ridiculousness of trying to emulate martial arts masters in the “real world”? I got the feeling that the filmmaker introduces the viewer to an over exaggerated stereotype of martial arts to show how overly exaggerated Kazumi (and the rest of the characters) are in this film. Also, one aspect of the film that stood out to me was the clothes the characters were wearing. They were obviously meant to emphasize the stereotypical role each had in the family (Marvin being the studious geek, Kazumi being the rebel, and Holly being the perfect cheerleader). Was it to serve as a contrast to the secrets each child was trying to hide from the parents?

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