Theories In Spectatorship Regarding Asian American Stereotypes In Cinema Paying Particular Attention To Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle

2190 words - 9 pages

Waiting for the MomentPeople in cultures across the world congregate to local film theaters and purchase their tickets for the new popular film that everyone has been raving about. For two hours, strangers sit amongst each other in their seats with their eyes fixed upon the big screen all sharing the same feature. While the audience is equally presented with the same motion picture, each leaves with his or her own unique experience of the feature film. Spectatorship and the concept of how individuals alter, decontextualize and remobilize text within films has been an evolving and heavily concentrated area of study within film theory. One category of film that has attracted much attent ...view middle of the document...

He proceeds to propose that films that have a stereotypical dominant ideology are found pleasurable within the spectator because they take pleasure in either loving or hating the film. It's obvious on how the viewer can take pleasure in hating a film that stereotypes his or her own race or religion due to the fact that they are able to recontextualize the film and critique it, but how is it that someone can take pleasure in loving a film that stereotypes his or her own race or religion such as an Asian American spectator of The World of Suzie Wong? In order for someone such as an Asian American to find pleasure in this film, they must first acknowledge and be fully aware of the dominant racist ideology within the film in order to open up the closed text and enjoy it. Throughout the entire film, the spectator will love to hate it by critiquing and breaking down the stereotypes within it while simultaneously yearning for the desire to question the pleasure that they are feeling in an attempt to break free from it. Regardless of whether the viewer is currently loving to hate or loving to love the film, he or she consciously or subconsciously acknowledges the racist messages suggested within the film because it would be impossible to open up the text and find pleasure without doing this. In The World of Suzie Wong, Nancy Kwan's character is the passive submissive Asian American hooker with a heart of gold, an obvious stereotype within Asian American women in film. Throughout the film, Kwan's character is3submissive to the male lead, played by Robert Lomax. The Asian American spectator takes this and finds pleasure out of it by criticizing the absurdity of the stereotype throughout the entire film until suddenly, there is that one moment. This is the moment that the spectator waits patiently for throughout the entire film where the stereotyped character resists the dominant racist ideology illustrated by the film. The scene where Kwan's character acts as the empowered teacher taking charge and shows Lomax's character how to use the chopsticks is one of these moments from The World of Suzie Wong. In this isolated moment, the tables turn briefly and the spectator takes pleasure in savoring the moment that works against the text's dominant ideology. The entire narrative of the film suggests Kwan's character as the stereotypical Asian American women until this one moment where she breaks free and goes against the grain of this stereotype. The spectator is in a way constructing an entirely new narrative from making meaning out of these moments or bits and pieces from the text such as this one. The resistance within the protagonist in the film allows resistance within the spectator. It allows the spectator to mobilize these moments and use them to surpass the dominant ideology and create a new narrative logic; One in which stereotypes are not enforced but are instead refuted and disproved.Like The World of Suzie Wong, Harold and Kumar Go to White Cas...


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