Friday, December 16, 2005
going ga-ga over geisha

The above hilarious picture is courtesy of AngryAsianMan.

There's been a lot of criticism regarding the "Memoirs of a Geisha" movie and though I haven't seen it yet (I don't think I'll see it in the theatre... DVD rental), many movie reviews are already highlighting a lot of missteps. Since I don't think it's necessary to rehash every good criticism I've heard, here's some reviews I think are worth reading:

Even people involved aren't happy with the movie... a Japanese consultant hired for the movie noted that director Rob Marshall often went against advice given by experts and neglected details in favor of his own "vision".

While I agree that yes, movies are fantasy, the entire appeal of "Memoirs of a Geisha" was its supposed "authenticity". Other people who read the book would rave to me about all the "interesting facts" and "cool details" of geisha life in turn of the century Japan. Too bad the most basic fact about life in early 1900s Japan got left out of the movie... people spoke JAPANESE, not ACCENTED English. To me this is the most idiotic and insulting part of the movie... unlike Troy, where the speaking of English can be forgiven by the fact that nobody speaks ancient Greek anymore, there's still 127 million people in Japan alone that speak Japanese (thank you CIA factbook)

The excuse that non-English movies don't sell is Hollywood BS. Zhang Ziyi's first major picture overseas, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was entirely in Mandarin Chinese and that didn't hurt ticket sales. Even Mel Gibson managed to film "The Passion" in Aramaic and Latin, and he made Biblical sums of money. Figuratively and literally.

The casting of three Chinese actresses in the lead roles is less bad than the choice of language, but only slightly so. Marshall's excuse that "we couldn't find any good Japanese actresses" is telling both in its ignorance of modern Japan (what about Kyoko Fukada? Yuko Daike? Anna Tsuchiya? Hell, even Morning Musume!) and its racist undertones ("I'm the big white director! I can judge who's Japanese enough to play geisha! The slant of your eyes is wrong!")

Still, is it any surprise at all given the fact the same "cultural tourist" attitude was espoused by the author, Arthur Golden? "Oriental" cultures have always been a fertile ground for exploitation by Westerners. After reading Memoirs, I wasn't surprised to find out that Golden had been sued by the woman he claimed as his source. He settled out of court for an disclosed amount of money. Mineko Iwasaki, whose life was the template that Golden liberally modified and added to, felt so insulted by Golden's "novel" that she felt compelled to release her own book, Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki. I recommend reading that instead.

"But Arthur Golden is such a great writer! He's educated and so knowledgeable! He has a masters degree!" You know what you get when you put together a racist and a masters degree? get a racist with a masters degree. And for proponents of Golden's "great writing": What other "great" books has he written besides Geisha (which he plagurized a woman's life for)?

Yeah, that's right. None.


who's watching the watchers?

The Patriot Act got rejected today. Small comfort that is considering the revelation that our own government's been spying on us. But you knew that already, didn't you?

I'm sure everybody who reads this blog is being flagged right now for being "unpatriotic" (read: critical) and a "troublemaker" (read: angry colored people).


there's been so much criticism that i just can not believe the guy still lacked the insight... even in hindsight.

and respondingly, i wanted family photos since it's been forever since my family has gotten them taken. it was always put off, so i decided now was the a good time to start chronicalizing our soon-to-grow family, esp since this is the only time both my brother and i are engaged at the same time. plus, it is a good christmas gift (along with Japanese yummies) for my parents.
Great analysis. I especially loved the racist + PhD mathematical equation. You should work that into your K-5 kids' addition tables.

Here's to angry colored people! Let's be crass and loud until the FBI arrived to bust down the door and come up shooting!
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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



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