What Makes a Man a Man

Julie Huynh, 46376331

Shimizu’s first chapter one is all about the alternative masculinity and sexuality that Bruce Lee brings to the table, not only for Asian American men but for males roles in general. The alternative that Bruce epitomizes is basically demonstrated through the “emotional vulnerability” apparent in his fight scenes, and the lack of carnal sex scenes. In place of love scenes that primarily utilize flesh as a signifier of sexuality, Bruce Lee appears to be able to demonstrate attractiveness and manhood through other means, such as his character and courtship.

Thus, Bruce Lee’s appeal translates onto Hollywood film in a way that shows manhood or masculinity is not all about the phallus but more so the way one expresses his love and desire. In the case of Bruce Lee, he shows this through his strength as a fighter, his philosophy, and actions. In class, one figure that is similar in the way that he is utilized as a lead male actor in Hollywood is Jackie Chan.

Though Jackie Chan has managed to make a name for himself as an Asian actor in Hollywood films, the type of romanticized character he is in American films is quite different than his Hong Kong films. In the American films, he is not characterized as someone overtly sexual but rather the conservative fellow. In Rush Hour 3, Chris Tucker notably comments his pal as a “boy becoming a man” when he sees Jackie Chan looking as if he is about to go have his time with a hooker. This kind of statement says a myriad of things; that in not being sexually promiscuous, Jackie Chan is prepubescent; that without having intercourse or establishing phallic conquests or territory a man is not yet a man; or that Jackie Chan is predisposed to this type of characterization because he is Asian.

It’s difficult at the moment to determine whether this typecasting results more positively or negatively for Jackie Chan, or Asian American male roles. It might make the role of an Asian playboy less plausible in this industry where Asian American males are shifted to roles that cast them with stereotypical “Asian characteristics” such as being submissive, quiet, soft-spoken, and conservative. Then again, on the other hand, with Jackie Chan being in this type of role, he embraces a respectability for his type of character; he ends up with the main girl because he’s not as slutty as his opposite.


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