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Rising Number of Chinese, Asian Faces in Hollywood

时间:2019-10-27 09:44来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]


One of the first stops for a visitor to Los Angeles is the TCL Chinese Theatre. You can find the old building right next to the historic1 Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It opened in 1927 and, at first, was known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It is a sign of the American film industry’s interest in Asia in the early days of Hollywood.

“When film was first invented — and we’re talking about the late 1800s, early 1900s — it expanded the visual minds of its audiences,” notes Arthur Dong. He added that movie-goers could actually see images of far-away places, like China, and that fueled interest in the area.

Dong, a Chinese American, is a filmmaker and writer. On the day he spoke2 with VOA, he was hanging old pictures of Chinese American actors on the walls of the Formosa Café, a once famous Hollywood nightclub and bar. The business opened in 1939.

Now, the back room of the Formosa Café looks like a museum that honors the work of Chinese Americans and their work in Hollywood.

“I was always curious about the Chinese or Asian actress I saw on screen, whether films from the early part of cinema history up to today,” Dong said. But the men were always playing servants or unskilled laborers3. And if they were women, he added, they were either servants or sex workers.

Chinese stereotypes5

In his new book, Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films, Dong looked at Hollywood’s use of Chinese characters and the Chinese culture.

Stereotypes of the Chinese in America were strengthened by the otherness of U.S. Chinatowns in the late 1800s and early 1900s, where people had different customs.

There was an idea of “the Chinese as the ‘yellow peril’…the Chinese that you couldn’t trust. And that resulted in the character called Fu Manchu,” Dong explained.

Fu Manchu was an evil character who wanted to destroy the Western world. He appeared in movies and in a television series.

In 1926, Charlie Chan, a Chinese investigator6 from Hawaii, appeared for the first time in a movie. This created a different, yet still problematic Asian stereotype4.

“He was quiet. He was smart — smarter than anybody else…yes — but it was used in a stereotyped7 way. He spoke in broken English,” Dong said.

‘Yellow face’ actors

Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu may have been Chinese characters, but the actors were usually white men made up to look Asian. Actors Sidney Toler, Roland Winters, Peter Ustinov and Ross Martin all played Charlie Chan.

“Yellow face — meaning they actually, literally8 yellowed up their skin,” said Nancy Wang Yuen. She is a sociology9 professor at Biola University in California. She also wrote a book called Reel10 Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism11.

White actors also played the lead characters in The Good Earth, a 1937 film about Chinese farmers. Asian actors had parts in the film, but “they needed bankable actors, and there were no Asian American bankable actors,” Yuen said.

Chinese American actress Anna Mae Wong wanted to play the female lead in The Good Earth, but she did not get the part.

“The reason why Anna Mae Wong wasn’t cast was because of this production law that was part of Hollywood... that you could not have interracial romances13 on-screen,” Yuen added.

Asian actors in modern-day Hollywood

Over the years, Asian and Chinese Americans did find work in Hollywood, and a few earned a star on the Hollywood Walk for Fame. They include Anna Mae Wong, Keye Luke, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu.

The 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians had mostly Asian actors and an Asian American director. The film became important for many Asian Americans.

“The sensation14 of Crazy Rich Asians, both in its critical and box office success, is a sign that things are changing,” Arthur Dong said. “What is different is that the Asian American community won’t sit back.”

Technology is also opening doors for Asian Americans to tell stories on their own terms.

With Asian Americans being the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, a new generation of Asian American artists can use different platforms to tell stories that are not a stereotype.

The China factor

Hollywood is also changing the way it presents the Chinese culture because of what is being called the China factor.

As the biggest market for movies outside the U.S., Hollywood has been making films that will not insult movie-goers in China or the country’s government. The industry has been careful not to show the Chinese as evil.

Co-productions between Hollywood and Chinese companies, such as the new film Abominable15, put Chinese characters and China in a favorable or satisfactory way.

“That’s where I would like to see the future of Chinese-U.S.” projects. So that both countries can feel like there’s something familiar to them, Yuen said, adding that it would create more jobs for Asian Americans in the film business.

I’m Susan Shand.

Words in This Story

audience – n. a group of people watching or listening

museum – n. a place where objects are shown to the public

curious – adj. a marked desire to investigate and learn

screen – n. a flat surface where a movie or pictures are shown

stereotypes – n. an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things

smart – adj. intelligent

romance12 – n. a love story

box office – n. the ability to interest people to buy movie tickets

platform – n. an operating system

familiar – adj. often seen, heard, or experienced


1 historic AcNxw     
  • This is a historic occasion.这是具有重大历史意义的时刻。
  • We are living in a great historic era.我们正处在一个伟大的历史时代。
2 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
3 laborers c8c6422086151d6c0ae2a95777108e3c     
n.体力劳动者,工人( laborer的名词复数 );(熟练工人的)辅助工
  • Laborers were trained to handle 50-ton compactors and giant cranes. 工人们接受操作五十吨压土机和巨型起重机的训练。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. 雇佣劳动完全是建立在工人的自相竞争之上的。 来自英汉非文学 - 共产党宣言
4 stereotype rupwE     
  • He's my stereotype of a schoolteacher.他是我心目中的典型教师。
  • There's always been a stereotype about successful businessmen.人们对于成功商人一直都有一种固定印象。
5 stereotypes 1ff39410e7d7a101c62ac42c17e0df24     
n.老套,模式化的见解,有老一套固定想法的人( stereotype的名词复数 )v.把…模式化,使成陈规( stereotype的第三人称单数 )
  • Such jokes tend to reinforce racial stereotypes. 这样的笑话容易渲染种族偏见。
  • It makes me sick to read over such stereotypes devoid of content. 这种空洞无物的八股调,我看了就讨厌。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
6 investigator zRQzo     
  • He was a special investigator for the FBI.他是联邦调查局的特别调查员。
  • The investigator was able to deduce the crime and find the criminal.调查者能够推出犯罪过程并锁定罪犯。
7 stereotyped Dhqz9v     
  • There is a sameness about all these tales. They're so stereotyped -- all about talented scholars and lovely ladies. 这些书就是一套子,左不过是些才子佳人,最没趣儿。
  • He is the stereotyped monster of the horror films and the adventure books, and an obvious (though not perhaps strictly scientific) link with our ancestral past. 它们是恐怖电影和惊险小说中的老一套的怪物,并且与我们的祖先有着明显的(虽然可能没有科学的)联系。
8 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。
9 sociology lwrwn     
  • He is studying sociology.他正研究社会学。
  • A pioneer of legal sociology in Germany was Max Weber.德国法律社会学的先驱是马克斯·韦伯。
10 reel oSNzM     
  • He cast the line and then reel it back.他把线抛出,然后把线绕回。
  • The child could reel off many poems of the Tang Dynasty at the age of five.这孩子五岁时就能把许多唐诗倒背如流。
11 racism pSIxZ     
  • He said that racism is endemic in this country.他说种族主义在该国很普遍。
  • Racism causes political instability and violence.种族主义道致政治动荡和暴力事件。
12 romance KXGx1     
  • She wrote a romance about an artist's life in Tokyo.她写了一个关于一位艺术家在东京生活的浪漫故事。
  • They tried to rekindle the flames of romance.他们试图重燃爱火。
13 romances 77fde962e29a8f3190981e749a316f8f     
n.浪漫史( romance的名词复数 );爱情小说;恋爱;传奇色彩
  • The Arabian Nights and Treasure lsland are romances. 《一千零一夜》和《金银岛》都是传奇故事。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • Most teenage romances are transitory. 绝大多数青少年的恋情都转瞬即逝。 来自辞典例句
14 sensation hzCwi     
  • He lost all sensation in his legs through cramp.他的腿部因抽筋而失去知觉。
  • Seeing him again after so many years was a strange sensation.那么多年以后又见到他,是一种不可思议的感觉。
15 abominable PN5zs     
  • Their cruel treatment of prisoners was abominable.他们虐待犯人的做法令人厌恶。
  • The sanitary conditions in this restaurant are abominable.这家饭馆的卫生状况糟透了。
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