Howard Diep | 10209864
Last week we discussed Chapter 1, 2, and 5 in Shimizu’s Straitjacket Sexualities. Chapter 1 had me really invested because it had a lot of context in analyzing Bruce Lee’s masculinity. Personally, Bruce Lee is one of my hero’s and role models and I genuinely look up to him, so it was nice being able to read something about someone you’re interested in and value.
One aspect of Bruce Lee’s masculinity that was discussed in Chapter 1 was Shimizu’s example of his role in the Big Boss as Cheng Chao-an. Shimizu contrasts Bruce Lee’s physical aggressiveness and martial arts with his gentle gestures in reassuring the different women within his films and builds a relationship between them. It was interesting to read that Shimizu stated that Bruce in that film is the authenticity of sexuality and masculinity. It was also interesting to look at the different perspectives that are used to viewing sexuality and masculinity. The western way generally stated that aggressive and dominance was necessary in order to be masculine or a “man”. But compared to Bruce, it was something different. I also referred often to the notion of “gender is a performance” throughout my day today, drawing on the different things I see around campus.
Within class we also discussed Chapter 2, which discusses the idea of the Asian American man as a shameful character and how that can work with or against Asian American men. I remember one discussion we had in class last week was about 16 candles and how Asian American men are undervalued as compared to other men. I think the one of the biggest points that I drew from this chapter was the embracement of the shame and how that could be a transgressive force used as a tool to find other ways to distinguish and express Asian American masculinity. I remember the group that presented drew examples from Jackie Chan and how he represented Asian American masculinity. Similar to Bruce Lee, Jackie focuses on the immediate goal of accomplishing whatever tasks are assigned to him and in moments of encounters that might “test” his sexuality as an Asian American man on media and film, Jackie doesn’t lose focus or stray off course. Moments of humor are interjected within these scenes such as the fight scene in the bedroom with Chris Tucker trying to listen and observe on the outside.
In Chapter 5 Shimizu discusses how Asian American men are portrayed in Hollywood film as asexual, secondary to the main character, or as the main character. She discusses how in many cases however; Asian American men have been assigned lead roles within films. For example Shimizu talks about Jason Lee as the main lead character and how he has been featured in various films such as Crimson Kimono, The Jungle, and Rapa Nui. She states however that the romantic lead offers a different manhood. Within this chapter we had to compare the context to famous Korean-American actor John Cho. We decided to screen a clip of him in the elevator with Maria. We touched points on Asian American masculinity and aggressiveness through Cho’s character and his hesitations and fantasies during the elevator ride.