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From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu PandaImages of China in American Film$
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Naomi Greene

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838355

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838355.001.0001

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East Meets West

East Meets West

Cultural Collisions and Marks of Difference

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter 2 East Meets West
Source:
From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda
Author(s):

Naomi Greene

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838355.003.0002

This chapter examines two marks of difference that define Chinese otherness—religion and sexuality—and the taboos and ambiguities that swirl around them through an analysis of four American films: D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms (1919), Tom Forman’s Shadows (1922), Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), and Harold Lloyd’s The Cat’s-Paw (1934). All four films ascribe values such as tolerance, compassion, spirituality, and humanism to China. In particular, the humanitarian and moral goals embraced by many missionaries before and after World War I, as well as their spirit of cultural relativism, are evident in the films. On the other hand, the films highlight the contradictions and the enduring stereotypes that have long shadowed American perceptions of China. The films also illustrate the taboos that for decades surrounded the representation of Chinese characters, particularly the taboo against miscegenation.

Keywords:   Chinese otherness, religion, sexuality, taboos, American films, cultural relativism, stereotypes, China, miscegenation

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