Daisuke Tohyama

79935303        Daisuke Tohyama

1/15

Who killed Vincent Chin?

In the film, “Who killed Vincent Chin?”, there is no narrator. There is no clear explanation of what is going on. However, I could understand the story without any explanation even though this was the first time I have watch it. The reason why I could understand it was that it has many visual aids. For example, at the beginning part it projects many bars, dance bars, and African American musicians. These shots imply what the city was like in 1982. Most importantly, it also projects that many Japanese cars are being manufactured and that they come to US to defeat American cars. In the film Japanese manufactured cars were seen flooding to the western side of the globe in a short animation clip. All to convey a fear of  Japanese importation and domination in the car industry as a threat to America. This phenomenon was the social problem of US, especially Detroit in 1982, which was the main site for AAmerican car manufacturing. Many workers in American car companies got fired at that time. I could understand the issues without any narration even though I am categorized as an English learner.

One issue depicted in the film is racism, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz got three year probation and $3,000 fine for the murder of Vincent Chin. Many people claim that because they were white and Vincent was Asian was the reasoning behind the ill judgment of their punishment. If Chin had not been Asian, the outcome would have been different. We can also see the prejudice against African Americans in the film as the African American exotic dancer testimony was seen as less credible to the white dancer. Despite the fact the black dancer was their dancer for the night and heard and saw things first hand, the white dancer’s hearing from afar was seen as more credible.

Although the film shows some issues, it does not show what we are supposed to think about them. African Americans and Asian Americans have been historically shown in propaganda and caricature negatively. Most importantly, the film does not express one opinion. As Bill Nichols mentions, “there is no voice-over commentary to orient us” (Nichols 165). However we can see what’s going on in society or what happened in the past and think about the issues. We can analyze them and think what factors caused them or should have been changed. For these reasons, it is very important to assume why the directors project these shots or choose these angles. For instance, why they projects African American musician many times? The typical image of African American at this time was musician. I think they also imply that African American still are not really fitted to the society at this time. So we have to think about the issue not only literally but also meaningfully. Nichols also states that “Who killed Vincent Chin? , with its superficial resemblance to an MTV visual style, poses the risk of sliding toward a discourse not of sobriety, but delirium.” (Nichols 163). That means the documentary has risk to make the audiences confused, sad or angry instead of thinking about it seriously. After watching the film, the audience could feel only sad. However, it is meaningless that they feel only sad about the story. We have to think about the film and analyze it on our own way. So I think the directors did not include specific explanation or interpretation of it to let the audiences think about the issue by themselves.

By thinking about the issues, people can understand the past events with present mindsets to make society better. Nichols also mentioned that “we assemble a story (histoire) from our present perspective that is meditated by what we now understand of past events in the plot” (Nichols 161). What I think depends on how I understand past events or issues. If I can understand past issues in a way, I also can understand present issues in that way. That means the documentaries can change my present or future mindsets of other issues. The documentaries could influence what we think, which creates our society. I believe that they can change society.

Work Cited

Nichols, Bill.  “Historical Consciousness and the Viewer: Who Killed Vincent Chin?”  : The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event. Vivian Sobchack .  New York, 1996.161-165

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