Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Asian Week: 6 Asian Arts Reviews in 6 minutes

Hu's on FirstArthur Hu, Dec 29, 2006
OK, so I’ve been catching up on my videos and books, but it’s not too late to add some fresh perspectives:

Crouching Charger, Hidden Moonshine
The King of the Hill’s Khan may dismiss his neighbors as suburban hillbillies, but the feature movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard makes it the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of Redneck American culture.
You know Asians have infiltrated the boondocks when the General Lee drifts fast and furiously. When black youths ask the hillbillies about their use of the stars and bars as roof graphics, the Dukes retort that they’d rather be called "Appalachian Americans." The Dukes pose as Japanese, explaining "we converted." A backwards Chinese fuse recalls an old myth about the geometry of Asian female anatomy (it isn’t true). Bo Duke backs up his familiarity with Chinese by saying he dated a Korean girl once, but ultra-nerd says "that’s an entirely different Oriental culture."

The Wizard of Tokyo Drifting
Wikipedia’s take on The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift gives more space to cars than characters. Japan still has the same stupid-looking boxy taxis I saw in 1986. Like Dorothy, Sean gets into trouble and ends up far from Kansas. A garage works like a giant vending machine, while the racing course is a multilevel garage. The hero gets suckered into challenging the nephew of a Yakuza. After many crashes, Sean beats the wicked witch and wins one for the munchkins. Oh yeah, Veilside is the company that makes the awesome wide Mazda body kit.

Desperate Geishas
Memoirs of a Geisha is a lot like the Desperate Housewives who plot how to ruin each other’s lives. Our heroine is sold into slavery, and bullied by a spoiled evil geisha with a thick Chinese accent. You might want to skip over Mama’s "you’ve been out with a boyfriend" test if the kids are watching. The girl gets locked up before she can run away with her sister, gets a good lashing, and she falls from the roof from her second escape attempt. The Good Fairy Geisha waves a wand and transforms her from slave to Geisha-in-training. She resolves that even if being a geisha sucks, she’ll get Prince Charming by being the best one. Geisha boot camp seems right out of Mulan’s "Be a Man." Like a sniper, it’s one shot, one kill, making a boy on bicycle crash to prove she can stop a man with one glance. Like sumo wrestlers, she is also in a battle of giants to be "Top Geisha."

The Perils of Precious Auntie
I picked up Amy Tan’s Bonesetter’s Daughter condensed on tape. Here are the 10 classics in a 10-minute version. Long-dead Precious Auntie left a mysterious letter about things she should not forget. Bandits killed everybody in her wedding. She tried to kill herself, but the bride emerges so disfigured she is demoted to nursemaid to her own daughter. So Auntie is really mother, and Mother really isn’t and … whatever. War comes to China. Peking man gets lost. Hubbies get killed. Communists take over. The girl grows up, trades in her dragon bones for a ticket to America. And they all live happily ever after. Let me know if you spot anybody doing a YouTube parody.

Affirmative Action Reality
Those bastards have forced the Survivors to work in perfect racial harmony. My gosh, if only I had a bod like that when I took PE. Now, why is it that activists fight to the death to keep quotas for everybody else, but when CBS gives Asians a too-big quota in the only professional field with too FEW Asians, they get bent out of shape?

Abuse of the Yellow Man
In the rerun of South Park’s Greed of the Red Man, economically advanced Indian — Oops! Native American — casinos take over the simple savages of South Park. They give blankets infected with SARS by rubbing them with … gibberish-spouting naked Chinese men. I wasn’t offended, but shouldn’t somebody be? It’s almost redeemed when the ancient white folk remedy for SARS is the same one that my Chinese mother learned from the locals — Campbell’s Chicken Soup, Nyquil and Sprite.

Arthur Hu is a San Jose engineer, husband and father of three elementary school kids. He is a former AsianWeek columnist.

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