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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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The Pendulum Swings … and Swings Again

The Pendulum Swings … and Swings Again

(p.1) Chapter 1 The Pendulum Swings … and Swings Again
From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda

Naomi Greene

University of Hawai'i Press

This book explores the historical arc of American film representations of China in the context of the tensions between the self and the other or, more generally, those between America and China. Through an analysis of such films as Broken Blossoms, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, and Kung Fu Panda, the book highlights the images and myths regarding China found in American cinema. It shows how the “strange” and “remote” place that China occupies in the American mind comes vividly to life in numerous American films. It explains how, under the force of changing historical circumstances, Americans tend to swing from intensely positive images of China to those that are relentlessly negative, from an ancient and wise civilization to a land of queer practices and barbaric tortures. But whether films depict the Chinese as good or evil, the book argues that they rarely acknowledge the complex dimension of otherness. In other words, cinematic portrayals of China and the Chinese inevitably raise the division between the self and the other.

Keywords:   other, self, American films, China, America, American cinema, otherness, torture, Broken Blossoms, Kung Fu Panda

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