Tuesday, June 27, 2017

British Lion Crushing Dragon

I had heard from a friend about a Hong Kong Bank note that depicted what I said in the title and was going to use the image of the note as a reference while talking about the Boxer Rebellion, Gene Luen Yang's "Boxers and Saints" and the old movie with Charlton Heston that I watched and did many an entry about yesterday, "55 Days at Peking."

But what ended up happening was I could not find the bank note... and though I do not doubt my friend... the bank note image has taken on unicorn status for me. Does it even exist?

If it doesn't, how the story started is even more interesting. Though really I don't doubt that it exists myself. But maybe it doesn't and somehow my friend saw something that did not exist?

But even still it should really be something so common to find.

Either way that is fascinating and just reminds me how important it is to keep a record of such things that is not just oral.

These are some pictures of coins from Hong Kong pre 1997 from another friend in New York. I only post it because maybe one day, despite Wikipedia and history books, to common people....it might become a little known fact that Hong Kong was once a British colony. Seriously ask many American teenagers that are not Chinese and see if they are like, "duh Hong Kong was a British Colony" or see if they say something else. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The importance of Gene Luen Yang

After watching 55 days at Peking... especially when the plot followed history in an extremely selective manner I realized how important Gene Luen Yang's Boxers and Saints is.  I mean they have read it already last year.... but having seen 55 Days.... I realized that I need to buy these books.

Looking at Gene Luen Yang's site, I was reminded of all the other work he has done and realized I NEED all his work not only because of cultural heritage and perspective and all that.... but because my kids would actually read this stuff on their own.

Watching Gene's Ted talk about comics in the classroom (on that site) I realized that Gene is an educator... and 55 days was made by Hollywood. It wasn't just that 55 days was skewed, because I think they were actually trying to be fair and balanced.... because there was a lot of bad things that the Boxers did that the movie really doesn't show. Although Gene's book that covers the Boxers shows a Boxer as the main Character (the other one shows a Chinese Christian as the main character) he still shows atrocities in an extremely violent way that 55 days did not.

Because Gene is an educator he did care about the actual historical events and context and manages to put all of that info into a fairly small and entertaining comic book, while 55 days honestly takes forever to get to the point of the movie and then glosses over the real substance of the event, instead relying on Hollywood formula's (which to be fair are probably the best parts of the movie.)

55 Days is an old movie but it isn't irrelevant because most of how mainstream it is, how unracistly racist it is. Or at least culturalist... because in a way, the movie is pro Chinese race and anti boxer and government.

It is the mainstream propoganda that benignly seeps into our children's minds and takes root there that is more dangerous than someone yelling and screaming racial slurs. And shouting is really not the way to go about it. Shouting at the mainstream is probably more innefective... but CHANGING the mainstream.

Look at Gene's site... his works include SUPERMAN! I knew this... but I forgot it and I also didn't see how much thought he put into his work.

He has Avatar. He has a Chinese American superhero in a 1930's Chinatown called Shadow warrior. But again most importantly, his work is entertaining. So the kids will read it.

Secret Coders would be a great thing for Grace's idea of Kung Fu and Coding. In fact, if I had a brick and Mortar Kung Fu school I would buy all of Gene's books and make them required reading.

It is amazing how much media is out there now that we can use and hold up and support that is EXCELLENT in terms of quality and in terms of reaching the masses.


Wow mentions of mixing... look how everyone got so mad when she only says that she had an affair with a Chinese man... who is played by a white man. There are all sorts of atrocities that are surrounding this event from Boxers, from European powers... but the action that really sucks the air out of the room is the unspeakable crime of a white woman, even if she is Russian so technically Asian still depending on which part of Russia she is from having an affair with a Chinese General (who I believe is Muslim, so Western Chinese, so potentially from a place that is geographically further west than the Baroness... and both characters are played by white actors.

This was made in 1963 so race relations was the real topic of the day.

White Lanterns and Kung Fu Demos

I am sure most women are actually more appalled by the conversation about what a woman's thoughts are more likely to be in this movie. But I couldn't help noticing the white lanterns with various Chinese Characters written on them and the British Consul.... White represents a funeral in Chinese culture... so was this a mistake? 

Also regarding the gift of a lion. It is interesting that Hong Kong's old currency (I can't remember treh denomination) depicted a British Lion crushing the Chinese Dragon. Symbolism is definitely paid attention to in Both cultures. I tried to Google the image of the bill but couldn't find it or remember the denomination. 

The Kung Fu demo was kind of cool. Looks like Hung Gar with more dancing around. But you can see it's definitely different that Wushu (which didn't exist in the 60's) Also, Hong Kong Movies in the 60's were not the action packed Kung Fu movies of the later 70's and 80's. So this is kind of cool. Kung Fu moves on screen before the invention of the Kung Fu movie. 

The Boxer Rebellion was more around San Dong and I think one of the famous Bak Gwa masters (if not one of the people considered to be a more recent founder, was involved. He fought with a European soldier that was killing a Chinese citizen, then he was shot dead. Something like that. I forget. 

But I just want to point out that there is a whole other narrative that would depict Boxers as unruly and out of control.. but heroes against the soldiers who were murdering and raping for fun long before the rebellion. 

A Good book that shows some of this is Mo Yan's Sandalwood Death.

"Better off among her own kind.."

So I had seen the ending scene where the girl (who I assumed was fully Chinese) was rescued by the major. In fact an elderly woman from Singapore had referenced that scene in a Faith Sharing speech at a Church where she compared the scene to her own life and how members of the Church who were white saw her in trouble and picked her up and out of her situation.

But I didn't realize the character was half Chinese, and this bar conversation at the beginning of the click is fascinating to me.

The thing is I can pass for white... so probably so "my own kind" would be white most likely and my grandfather had once said to my mother that it might be a good idea for me to just have the name Peters since my father had passed away anyway and I would simply be less confused were I to pick a side (a race) and just stick with it, seeing how I would NOT be accepted by Chinese anyway. (As a kid I had blond hair... really stuck out you know.)

But of course the major that says the girl should be left in China among her own kind takes her out of there (granted it is an unstable country at that point)

I'm just saying this movie has so many talking points. Its a REAL glimpse into the minds of Americans view on Chinese or at least Hollywood's view on Chinese.

You could do a whole class watching this, then watching Once Upon a Time in China.. and then you would need a modern Mainland China movie and I couldn't tell you which one because I haven't watched a Chinese movie in a while. It would have to be something very influential. Something that really made waves. I don;t think it should be Great Wall.