November 29, 2005

Wooden Scandals

Alison and I were watching the trailer for Memoirs of a Geisha the other day, and she was complaining that it stars none other than Hollywood Stock Asian Actors A, B, and C: the young chick from Crouching Tiger, the old chick from Crouching Tiger, and the dude from Crouching Tiger. We both agreed that that would be bad enough, but even worse: they're all Chinese actors, when geisha were, of course, Japanese.

According to Netscape Celebrity, director Rob Marshall (of Chicago fame) defended his choice of actors:

"[emphasising] that he was not trying to create an accurate picture of the Japan of the 1930s and that he felt he had chosen the best actors for each role, regardless of nationality."

"You know," said Marshall. "I picked the ones that looked most Asianest. Also, I felt it was important for the main characters to be able to break into kung fu at any moment, just in case."

Outrage in both Japan and China has been widespread: the Japanese are angry that the central geisha in the film is played by a Chinese actress, and the Chinese are angry that Chinese actors are helping to portray a country that occupied them during World War 2. One Chinese blogger said of Ziyi Zhang (the young chick):

"She's sold her soul and betrayed her country. Hacking her to death would not be good enough."

He added: "Can I keep my blog now, Mr State Censor?"

Zhang, however, sees no problem with the movie's casting. "I am really grateful to Rob Marshall for giving us this incredible chance to show the whole world Asian actors' ability," she explained. "We can do so much more than people think," she said, apparently in response to earlier requests by reporters that she rub them rong time.

The Kyoto Traditional Musical Art Foundation was fairly stoic about the film, with one official saying: "It's just entertainment, so what can we do? Hollywood has always done things like ignoring history... So what if geisha never really battled with Godzilla? I'm just glad none of them were played by Tom Cruise."

The scandal continues.


At 29/11/05 18:12, Blogger Gil said...

The "rub the rong time" was particularly offensive.



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