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Thread: Cultural bias and "Memoirs of a Geisha"

  1. #1
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    Cultural bias and "Memoirs of a Geisha"

    Interesting article. I wondered if this would be a problem when I read about the casting. . . .

    http://movies.yahoo.com/mv/news/va/2...318596000.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Oso View Post
    AND, yea, a good bit of it is about whether you can fight with what you know...kinda all of it is about that.

  2. #2
    Seems to somewhat parallel developments in the forthcoming Genghis Khan film.

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    Brad Pitt likes it Greek...

    ...so does Angelina Jolie Seriously, Troy was a fine example of the other side of the coin. Actors should be able to play different roles and races because acting is their trade, but there's a delicate line there. Obviously, nobody wants a minstrel show. And don't even get me started on Carradine playing half-Chinese...

    Did you ever see Peter Brook's Mahabharata? It's an Indian epic myth, of course, but he cast people from all races in the roles, even with the brothers. It was brilliant. Because the story is so eternal, it transends race. Geisha will probably stereotype it. Actually, I'm pretty tired of the Michelle Yeoh/Zhang Ziyi; Qui-gon/Obi-wan relationship, so the main reason I'll go see Geisha, if I do, will just be to see how it navigates any stereotypes of Japanese women.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    Actually, I'm pretty tired of the Michelle Yeoh/Zhang Ziyi; Qui-gon/Obi-wan relationship, so the main reason I'll go see Geisha, if I do, will just be to see how it navigates any stereotypes of Japanese women.
    I'll go see it because they are pretty. Hey, what can I say? I'm shallow that way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oso View Post
    AND, yea, a good bit of it is about whether you can fight with what you know...kinda all of it is about that.

  5. #5
    My girlfriend's eager to see it 'cause she's an admirer of Michelle Yeoh.

    Interestingly this sort of topic came up with a friend of mine who's assembling a sort of Sunday school play. One of the character's in the play would be Martin Luthor King Jr. We had a long discussion on ethics of casting a Blonde haired blue eyed girl in the role. From there the discourse sprung out on where such a line might be drawn. Gene's Mahabharata example works perfectly in this.

    I Remember seeing a Japanese Film about a bunch of Boarding school boys all of whom were played by girls. I guess the gender thing takes the discourse in a very different direction. Still does "color-blind" casting lead to more "white" actors getting a job or the other way around.

    I'm sure if Uma Thurman was cast as the lead in this film there would be a whom other sort of discussion going on.

    BTW Gene, Angelina Jole played Greek in ALEXANDER. It interestingly cast actor's with "British" accents for some of other Greeks (don't know what accent Angelina was supposed to have) while the Only Persian character featured in that film was played by a Latina (Rosario Dawson).

    Where does the line get drawn in this sort of thing? That's an interesting (and probably unanswerable) question.

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    Right - Alexander...

    ...all I could remember was 'Angelina Jolie' and 'Greek'. Not sure why that stuck in my head so deeply. Actually, I never saw either film.

    The crossing sex roles is weird. Brigette Lin played a man all the way through one film, was it Dragon Inn? I can't remember. She has a long history of playing transgenders, but in that film, whatever it was, she played a man from start to finish. Also there was Linda Hunt in year of Living Dangerously. Of course, there's a long history of men playing women in Asian live theater, but that's a whole different can of worms.

    Rosario Dawson is a great example of Hollywood's view on race. It seems she can play any not-quite-white role. I suppose that's great for her, but where it gets interesting, where the line might be drawn is when the tables are turned. When Rosario gets the role as Barbie, then we've made some real progress. Now would not be a good time to bring up White Chicks...
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
    hello mr GeneChing i beleve the movie you are talking about is the Swordsman 2 (one with jet li also) Brigette Lin was a male that used secret scroll to make him more powerful turning him into a female... also continues in "the east is red"

    sorry for interupting

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    No, that wasn't it.

    In Swordsman II, Brigette was sort of transgender. She was male being converted to female by some sort of weird Taoist immortality practice.

    In the one I'm thinking about, she was cast as a male all the way through, just like Linda Hunt in Year of Living Dangerously. There were three heroes and it started at this inn, where they were serving human buns, akin to the old Dragon Inn story (actually out of Outlaws of the Marsh for those of you who are literate). But it wasn't Dragon Inn; that was my mistake. Maybe it'll come to me. It wasn't that great of a movie and I saw it a very long time ago.
    Gene Ching
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    it started at this inn, where they were serving human buns.
    I missed that story when I was growing up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oso View Post
    AND, yea, a good bit of it is about whether you can fight with what you know...kinda all of it is about that.

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    Judge Pen, where have you been?

    The 'human' pork buns plot is a strangely pervasive twist common in a disturbing amount of Chinese cinema. It all stems from Outlaws of the Marsh, one of the great classics of Chinese literature. There has even been real-life incidents that have copied this motif, and in a typical recursive HK style, there's even a movie that depicts the 'true story' of a human pork buns killer. It stars everyone's favorite HK psycho, Anthony Wong, and it's called Human Pork Buns aka Bunman: The Untold Story, aka The Untold Story, aka Human Meat Pies: The Untold Story, aka Human Pork Chop aka The Untold Story: Human Meat Roast Pork Buns. OK, talk about getting off topic here. Don't you love HK cinema.

    The Brigette-is-so-butch-she-played-a-man character in with the three heroes is called Three Swordsman. I'd like to see Angelina Jolie or Rosario Dawson pull that off.
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    To get back OT

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    accuracy?

    Does anyone have a reasonable amount of knowledge of the subject? (Geisha, Miko, Orin? [sp?]) My girlfriend has a more then slight obsession with Japanese culture (All be it on a diffrent side of the spectrum then my own) and was very insulted when she read this book. Just wondering if anyone can confirm it's accuracy (if any) in regards to the diffrent types of females commonly mistaken for "Geisha" by foreigners, and their portrayal.

    Thanks
    "Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear't that the opposed may beware of thee."-William Shakespeare

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    I seem to remember the book being reasonably accurate... but it should be, cos the real geisha who it is based on sued Golden for not altering it enough to grant her anonymity among other things. She's now about 90 I think and it's basically her story which he stole. Er, wrote. After a long series of private and personal interviews.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatsuyuki
    Does anyone have a reasonable amount of knowledge of the subject? (Geisha, Miko, Orin? [sp?]) My girlfriend has a more then slight obsession with Japanese culture (All be it on a diffrent side of the spectrum then my own) and was very insulted when she read this book. Just wondering if anyone can confirm it's accuracy (if any) in regards to the diffrent types of females commonly mistaken for "Geisha" by foreigners, and their portrayal.

    Thanks

    the author concedes that people familiar with the culture will see straight through his story for what it is, a story and a romanticized and highly western view of the thing.

    after all, despite the research and all, I doubt a white middle aged american male would have a lot of insight into geisha society lol.

    It's like chinese/american food really. It's not actually chinese food, it's food made for the american palatte that is made by chinese people and sold to people who wouldn't actually eat the real thing for the most part.

    Such is the stuff of a good writer though. He makes you believe that this could be true! Much like Dan Brown's tales of conspiracy!
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Jamieson
    the author concedes that people familiar with the culture will see straight through his story for what it is, a story and a romanticized and highly western view of the thing.
    As I said, the facts are fairly well researched and quite accurate (as in many of the points about the training and mentoring etc). The character portrayals all seem pretty American - they just don't seem to behave like Japanese people of that era would from my experience of talking to maiko and also people from that era. I teach at the YMCA and there's no shortage of that generation of people whose brains I get to pick!!!

    The geisha's suit was that she was recognisable from the story but that it didn't give her any credit and that it altered too many things without making her unrecognisable: defamation.

    after all, despite the research and all, I doubt a white middle aged american male would have a lot of insight into geisha society lol.
    True, but like I said, he did a lot of interviews with the geisha it's based on.

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