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Asian-American Cinema Part III - The 1940s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 24, 2009 04:57pm | Post a Comment
ASIAN-AMERICAN CINEMA IN THE 1940s

The third of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera

The US entered World War II on 7 December, after Japanese forces bombed an American colonial base at Pearl Harbor. As a result, a huge number of Hollywood war films were set in Asia, which meant roles for Asian-Americans. Major Asian character roles were still routinely performed by white actors in yellowface and roles played by actual Asian-Americans  were almost always supporting, uncredited, and often demeaning. 

Asian-American Cinema Part II - The 1930s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 24, 2009 04:56pm | Post a Comment
The second of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera

If opportunities for Asian-Americans in silent film were decidedly limited, they seem to have actually worsened with the coming of sound. Several actors with Asian origins moved to countries in Asia, no doubt frustrated by the increased lack of work available to them in American films. The attempts by Marion WongSessue Hayakawa and Anna May Wong to create an Asian-American alternative to the degrading roles and yellowface of Hollywood had fizzled.

Philip Ahn in Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)
Philip Ahn (left) in Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)

There were few films made by Asian-American filmmakers during the Hollywood Studio Era and Hollywood firmly controlled the manner in which Asians were represented in American films (with the notable exception of some American-made Cantonese-language films exhibited that were primarily screened overseas). Films like The Bitter Tea of General YenThe Good Earth, and series like series like Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, Mr. Moto and Mr. Wong suggested that American minstrelsy, far from vanishing, had simply changed color. Asian-Americans found more accepting audiences as live performers on the so-called Chop-Suey Circuit, which took off in the 1930s.

ProtestationTartare

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 20, 2009 09:14pm | Post a Comment

Today an estimated 15,000 Crimean Tatars gathered in Simferopol, Ukraine to mark the 65th anniversary of their forced deportation at the hands of Soviet authorities under Stalin. In 1944, approximately 200,000 Crimean Tatars were loaded onto trains and sent to Siberia, with roughly half dying along the way.


Since the collapse of the USSR, many have returned to their ancestral homelands, joining the 280,000 who currently live there. Around 150,000 have expressed their intention to return.


Many of the protesters held aloft their national flag and voiced their demands, which include calls for national recognition, autonomy and Crimean Tatar schools.

  

Without a doubt, the most famous Tatar in American popular culture of Tatar ancestry is actor Charles Bronson. They also gave us steak Tartare.


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Jon Moritsugu - Original BB in da house

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 14, 2009 02:38pm | Post a Comment

Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis

Jon Moritsugu
is an American filmmaker who's enjoyed a long career of critical acclaim and underground fandom. Many of his films feature actress/wife/Scumrock co-writer/sometime bandmate Amy Davis. Although best known for his cult classic Mod Fuck Explosion, he's consistently and constantly made films that challenge and entertain with his unique style. As part of a series of interviews with groundbreaking Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry, he graciously agreed to be interviewed.

Eric Brightwell: Since it’s Asian/Pacific Island American Heritage Month, I’ll start with some questions related to that. First of all, how’s your APAH Month so far? Does it mean anything to you?

 
nori in its green glory                                                             "wok on over" and "taste the joy"... I don't get it!

Jon Moritsugu: APAH?... Ah... I did eat a buncha nori my mommy sent me... I think every day should be a day of awareness, be it racial, cultural, environmental or personal. No, but I digress...to me APAH is two for one Panda Express for me and the lady.

EB: It seems like in the past two decades, there’s been a fairly healthy explosion in the number of Asian American movies (albeit mostly within the indie sector). With the diversification within the works of Asian-American filmmakers, do people still tag you with the “bad boys” thing? Who were the “good boys of Asian American Cinema?” Wanye Wang and Peter Wang? What do you think about the current state of Asian American film?

Emily Ryan of Emily's Sassy Lime

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 9, 2009 10:39am | Post a Comment

Emily Ryan
is an artist/actress/DJ/musician who, in 1994, formed possibly the first all female Asian American rock group, Emily's Sassy Lime, with sisters Amy and Wendy Yao. In 2002, she played James Duval's girlfriend in Jon Moritsugu's underground classic Scumrock.

Eric Brightwell: Question 1: what other all Asian-American rock bands were there before Emily's Sassy Lime?
 
Emily Ryan: J Church, Seam, aMiniature, Slint… I suggest you peep the (seminal) Ear of the Dragon comp… Versus… no all girl ones however! They would sprinkle in one here or there…Skankin’ Pickle.

EB: I had no idea that half of those bands were comprised of Asians! They weren't really getting a lot of play on Friday Night Videos.

ER: Exactly. I’ll correct myself; those groups were LED by Asian Americans… as in "not just the bassist.” I want to say that I recently met the drummer from an old Matador band, Chavez – James Lo...Tae from Kicking Giant...Steve Gamboa from Nation of Ulysses, Cupid Car Club, and Make-Up.

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