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This assignment has been rather challenging for me because I have not really felt that any specific aspect of my identity was significantly misrepresented in mass media. Nevertheless, the research that I carried out prompted me to pay more attention to this issue. In particular, I have chosen to focus on my Chinese and Asian identity and the way in which it is portrayed in various media. I have examined various cinematographic works; in particular, I studied the movies that were released during the last two decades. It is quite possible to find many films that were released in the first half of the twentieth century, and they were affected by stereotypes and prejudices against Chinese people.
However, I took more interest in the films that reflected the contemporary cultural environment. It is possible to refer to the speech made by Chimamanda Adichie who eloquently shows how people representing various races or cultures can be misrepresented or misunderstood. Moreover, their individual stories can be overlooked or dismissed (Adichie). To some degree, modern film-makers also forget about this risk and reinforce many stereotypes (Cofer 15).
I have picked such a movie as Unleashed or Danny the Dog. Overall, the authors explore such stereotypes about Chinese people as pre-occupation with martial arts, an obedience that borders on docility, and social isolation. This representation is not aimed at humiliating Chinese people; more likely it is based on inaccurate perceptions of their culture and behavior. These are the main questions that should be examined in greater detail.
Cultural stereotypes explored in the film
It is possible to distinguish several stereotypical descriptions included in Danny the Dog. In particular, the protagonist of the movie is the master of martial arts (Danny the Dog). He can defeat many of his opponents without facing any difficulty. To a great extent, this depiction reflects stereotypes according to which Chinese people are pre-occupied with martial arts such as kung fu. Admittedly, martial arts can be viewed as a part of Chinese culture.
Nevertheless, one should not suppose that they play an important role in the life of every Chinese. In fact, many Chinese people do not know much about them. This stereotypical description has a long-standing tradition and it continues to shape the creative choices of many directors who depict Asian characters. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about various action films. Overall, this portrayal can resemble prejudice, because it can highlight the physical fitness of a person, but the inner world of this individual is completely ignored.
To a certain extent, the characters depicted in this way are dehumanized. This is one of the problems that the protagonist of this film struggles with because he is treated just like an animal by the mafia boss named Bart. This is one of the issues that should be taken into account by the viewers of this film and other action movies depicting Chinese males.
Furthermore, Danny completely obeys Bart’s orders. He does not question his commands in any way, even at the time when Bart orders him to kill other people. To a great extent, this portrayal is based on the misunderstanding of Chinese culture. In particular, many people assume that it lays too much stress on obedience, especially to people who occupy the positions of authority. However, this assumption is a false generalization that does not reflect the real-life behavior of Chinese people. Moreover, people, who hold such views, do not take into account the possibility that cultures can significantly evolve with time passing, and the values of people can also transform dramatically. In many cases, such misconceptions can be rather offending or at least superficial, but they can be explained simply by the lack of knowledge.
Additionally, at the beginning of this film, Danny is depicted as an individual who lacks social skills (Danny the Dog). He is an extremely reticent individual whose interests and needs are very limited. To some degree, this depiction reflects some of the misconceptions about Chinese immigrants who are often believed to live in isolated communities or ethnic enclaves. Moreover, it is often argued that they do not establish social relations with people who do not belong to the Chinese culture.
Again, these assumptions are not always accurate. They are hardly applicable to those people who have been able to integrate into American or European communities. One cannot say that they lack social skills. These are some of the stereotypes that attracted my attention. Prior to working on this paper, I did not attach much importance to these particular details. Nevertheless, this task prompted me to evaluate some of my initial attitudes and perceptions.
It should be noted that the film-makers also enable readers to understand that Danny’s behavior can largely be explained by his/her education. In particular, for a long time, he was deprived of opportunities to establish any social relations with other people. He was only trained to follow Bart’s commands. Finally, the movie shows that he is finally able to overcome Bart’s control over him. Moreover, it turns out that the protagonist can feel empathy for other people.
One can also say that Danny proves to be a very sensitive individual. Therefore, one should not suppose that this movie is aimed at creating a prejudicial image of Chinese people. To some degree, these misrepresentations can be explained by the needs of film-makers who are required to include narrative or visual elements that can produce a strong impression on the audience. However, these creative choices can eventually reinforce existing stereotypes. So, they can potentially harm many people because their behavior can be misunderstood by others. This is one of the risks that one should recognize.
In my opinion, this discussion can be important for various audiences. At first, one should speak about people who watch various films depicting Chinese people or the representatives of other ethnic groups. In particular, they should take into account that the depictions of Chinese characters can be inaccurate, at best. Furthermore, these issues should not be overlooked by people who create books, movies, or songs. They should keep in mind that many of the stereotypes may seem offending.
On the whole, this discussion shows that cultural stereotypes continue to play an important role in modern cinematography. Very often, film-makers can simply explore myths about a certain ethnic group. These depictions are not necessarily meant to offend or insult. However, in many cases, mass media can misrepresent the identities of many people. This argument can be applied to the film Danny the Dog. This movie explores some of the stereotypes related to the depiction of Chinese males. These are the main details that can be singled out.
Adichie, Chimamanda. “The Danger of a Single Story.” Online video clip. TED, 2009. Web.
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Cofer, Judith. “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Met a Girl Named Maria.” English 1A Course Reader. Ed. Alison Herman. Los Altos Hills: Foothill College, 2015. 15-18. Print.
Danny the Dog. Ex. Prod. Luc Besson. London: EuropaCorp, 2005. DVD.