After reading parts of Straitjacket Sexualities by Celine Shimizu, I realized that Asian American men had been struggling with misinterpretations of their sexual identity by the media. Asian American men were being portrayed lacking masculinity and typical macho traits. Consequently, this stereotype bound, or “straitjacketed”, most Asian men to accept their role in society. I have to admit that I have noticed that Asian men are usually more depicted as timid, peaceful pacifists in movies and media. One exception who comes to mind and was discussed in the book was Bruce Lee. His legend still lives on and even now his accomplishments are considered remarkable. I’ve seen videos of Bruce Lee doing push ups with his fingers and knocking a man back with just a thrust of his palm. Although his physical feats are praiseworthy, I believe his boldness in venturing away from the emasculate stereotypes of Asian men made Bruce Lee a hero.
This week in class we watched the documentary “Forbidden City, U.S.A.” by Arthur Dong. Before the film started, we were asked to keep some questions in mind during the film such as who is telling the story? Who are the intended audience? Who paid for the film? These questions help us understand what the meaning and message the documentary is trying to get across.
The retired dancers from the Forbidden City night club revealed the struggles they endured as Asian Americans trying to enter the entertainment business during the 1930’s. Since they were raised in completely Caucasian neighborhoods and schools, some of the dancers faced name-calling and sometimes engaged in fights. As they grew older and attempted to become entertainers, they faced the challenge of finding a club to hire them over a Caucasian counterpart. Caucasians were given the parts first so for Asian Americans they would have to be much better dancers or singers in order to get the part. I personally found it amazing and inspiring that these men and women were able to prove themselves and overcome the barriers established during that time. They accomplished what may have seemed unusual and inappropriate for their time and since then we have followed their footsteps in breaking boundaries and filling new roles.