Monday, April 14, 2008


I have seen Sa-I-Gu twice and both viewings left me feeling a bit manipulated. The overbearing mood music, the footage of Ed Lee's funeral procession (which seemed highly exploitative of both the viewer and the Lee family) -- it all seemed like a heavy handed attempt at making the audience sympathize with these characters. And unfortunately, what this did for me was force me to look at the characters more critically.

And unfortunately, at least in my case, this attempt yielded the opposite reaction. I started to look at each of the women more critically, less inclined to take their emotions at face value. For example, I wonder about the Korean woman nicknamed "Smiles" for her amicable disposition to her African-American customers. Her words were full of drama, frustration, and sadness--yet her demeanor, at least in my perspective, was, for lack of a better word, "smiley." She wasn't just calm or reserved, but in fact, nearly chipper.

I don't believe my assessment of her is particularly fair, but I do believe that my perspective is fueled directly by the film, an unintended side effect that tarnishes the more emotionally true moments, notably the interviews with Mrs. Lee. Although I still believe there is something very disquieting about "Smiles" and her interviews, I chalk it up to a cultural/generational differences in articulation and communication.

The film's side effect (perhaps only felt by myself?) may be a result of how soon after the riots it was made (the interviews took place only 3 months after). The film seems more like an emotional response and less a thought-out objective response.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Hey! I just realized that earlier in the semester you posted a comment to one of my blog posts suggesting that I check out an issue of Giant Robot containing interviews with some Asian American YouTube celebrities. Me being dumb, I didn't actually see the comment until just now. I was just wondering if by any chance you knew which issue it was and/or where I might be able to find it. Thanks so much for the tip!