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You Think You're Turning Japanese? [Friday 4 Feb 2011 at 07:50 pm]
I watched Memoirs Of A Geisha. Liked the recreation of pre-war life in a 花街 Japanese red-light district. The exclusively female-run hierarchy within a very patriarchial society is inherently interesting and early modern Japan interests me in particular. The plot is bland but the characters, costumes, and sets were very interesting.

That's not what I'm here to talk about today.

Zhang Ziyi is very pretty as the protagonist and Michelle Yeoh as her mentor is even prettier. Neither one of them looks the least bit Japanese. Zhang mostly looks neotonous and Chinese while Yeoh is obviously Chinese looking.* Do the producers just suppose that everybody non-white looks the same? "Sure," says a studio exec, "have an Egyptian play Ghengis Kahn and then cast him as Che Guevara; nobody will notice!"

On the Hawai'i Five-oh remake, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park's characters are always going on about Japan-this and native-Hawai'ian that. Are we really supposed to not notice that they could be platonic model Koreans? If Michangelo's David had been a Korean girl, he would have needed a piece of marble with Grace Park in it.

Then there's Hoshi Sato.

I've been to Hollywood and I don't believe that they can't find actual Japanese people there (and Japanese-Americans). I'll admit Koreans are very handsome, but also very distinct looking.

What do you think?

* I read on Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, that Zhang learned English starting in her early 20's in just a few years. Good on her; that's not easy.

[User Picture]From: owenthurman
Monday 7 Feb 2011 at 08:29 am (UTC)
There aren't a lot of really widely-liked books about Japan in English so I'll probably get around to it. Does it have more plot than the movie?
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[User Picture]From: manoah
Monday 14 Feb 2011 at 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, and better explains the character motivations as well.
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