Maybe this kind of thing bothers me more than it bothers most people, but the internal contradictions and racial issues pretzeling in a recent Times puff piece on Marvel’s latest superhero film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” had my brain short-circuiting like one of those computers that Captain Kirk would disable on “Star Trek” by feeding them self-contradictory statements.
Consider these quotes from the article, which was authored by Robert Ito. Apparently diversity means that only Asian American reporters can write about Asian-American super-hero movies. Or do you think it was just a coincidence? Sure it was. But I digress…
- “Known property or not, the movie is a cause for celebration: It’s Marvel’s first and only superhero film starring an Asian lead, with an Asian American director and writer, and based on a character who was actually Asian in the original comic.”
Why is any of this true? Why does the race of a comic book character matter at all? Does race make the character of the story more entertaining? To whom, other than racists? Can only Asian directors and writers create such a movie? Does that mean they can’t work on movies about non-Asian superheroes, or just that it’s not desirable to have a white (or black?) director and writer for movies like this one? I’m so confused…
- “Long of nail and mustache, Fu Manchu dreams of world domination. In a 1932 film starring Boris Karloff in garish yellowface, he orders his followers to “kill the white man and take his women.”
Somehow, Boris was in “garish yellowface” make-up in a black-and-white movie. (I checked: he was in “evil villain face.”)
- “One of Hong Kong’s most beloved and gifted actors playing a racist, anti-Chinese stereotype? ‘I cannot imagine Tony Leung embodying a Fu Manchu kind of character,’ said Nancy Yuen, the author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.” ‘It’s just not humanly possible because of who he has already been in the history of cinema.’
Why, it would be like casting Henry Fonda—Abe Lincoln, Mister Roberts, “Juror 8” in “12 Angry Men,” Tom Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath,” and Clarence Darrow—as a serial-killing psychopath in “Once Upon A Time in the West”!
- “Casting Leung was also part of a larger push to fill the story with Asians, something that the comic, and even the comic’s own influences, rarely did. (Perhaps tellingly, the two most prominent white actors in the new film, Florian Munteanu and Tim Roth, play monsters.)”
…which, we are being told daily and teaching our children in the schools, is completely appropriate
- “This latest martial arts tale is chock-full of Asian faces, including veteran Hong Kong stars like Leung and Michelle Yeoh, and Asian American actors like Awkwafina, Fala Chen and the comedian Ronny Chieng. “I grew up in Hawaii, and all of my friends are some mix of Asian American or Pacific Islander,” said Cretton, who is Chinese-American. “I wanted Shang-Chi to be surrounded by a group of young people who reminded me of my friends, and felt like my friends.”
…unlike white people, who are not friends to Asians, and who, if they cast other whites in their movies, are showing their white supremacy tendencies.
- “There’s been this assumption in America until fairly recently that Asians and Asian Americans can’t be funny,” said Gene Luen Yang, writer of the latest run of Shang-Chi comics. “I think that’s why they had Eddie Murphy play Mushu in the animated ‘Mulan.’”
Really? I thought they had Eddie Murphy play the funny dragon character in the animated film because he was such a hit playing the donkey in the “Shrek” films, is a well-known film and TV star, and is a brilliant vocal artist.
[Notice of Correction: I am informed that “Mulan,’ the cartoon version, pre-dated “Shrek.” Thanks to Tim LeVier for the note.]
- “The creators were so conscious of all the preconceptions they were up against that they even made a list of Hollywood stereotypes about Asians that they hoped to dispel.”
Somehow, “Asian guy as amazing martial arts fighter” didn’t make the list.
- And finally, this correction of my print version of the piece: “Correction: Sept. 3, 2021: An earlier version of this article misstated the heritage of (the film’s director) Destin Daniel Cretton. He is Japanese American, not Chinese American.
Oh. Well, all of those people look alike, you know…
The current woke culture’s anti-racism and pro-diversity propaganda is, if nothing else, self-contradictory and incoherent.