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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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Challenges and Continuities

Challenges and Continuities

(p.181) Chapter 6 Challenges and Continuities
From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda

Naomi Greene

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the disappearance of earlier stereotypes about China in American films of the new millennium, even as fears of China persist in the American imagination. Through an analysis of two highly successful animated films set in China, Mulan (1998) and Kung Fu Panda (2008), the chapter shows how economic, cultural, and social factors have conspired to foster radically changed representations of China in American cinema, but have not banished the impulses—in particular the ethnocentrism that gave rise to a binary view of the world—that engendered the old Chinese stereotypes. Both Mulan and Kung Fu Panda, it argues, have created an image of China that is more unreal and imaginary than ever before. In so doing, not only do they firmly erase the real China, but they also point to the creation of what might be seen as a new—and distinctly postmodern—form of Orientalism.

Keywords:   stereotypes, China, American films, animated films, Mulan, Kung Fu Panda, ethnocentrism, Orientalism

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