Thursday, August 25, 2016

Railroad

I don't know if anyone has been watching "Hell On Wheels." But I have seen all 50 episodes. There is even one in the least season entitled "Chinatown."

I once did a little lecture tour fro a school group from Concord in Chinatown. I have since seen many such groups coming through. Mainly I just showed some Kung Fu and answered some questions, which just being half Chinese, I was able to answer quite well since I have read so many books about Chinese culture to satisfy my own curiosity.

The meta narrative for Chinatown's in general, ie what most Americans believe is that  there was the railroad and then the Chinese came east on that working their way to places like Boston slowly. In fact the Mural at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center would pretty much have you believe the same thing.

But the Chinese historical society exhibit shows evidence of Chinese New England and in Boston well, even before we were the United States of America.

That being said, there were families that came here from railroad work of a kind. Frank Chin's Grandfather sold herbs in the railroad camp and decided to come to Boston to open up shop for Chinese workers here (a shoe factory brought a lot of Chinese here as scabs during the Qing dynasty as I recall.)


And watching "Hell On wheels" I mean there are obvious representations that are curious.. but it looks like they tried. I don't know why Angela Zhou's Cantonese seems to be worse than mine... maybe she is really a Mandarin speaker, but that sort of thing makes me want to watch a show more. It gives me a boost in confidence in my own Cantonese.

But some aspects of the way things were done were just so... familiar.

Any I love the show, I hope it doesn't end after this season, but I think (as I have written on My Kung Fu Dad blog) that we could still use a show from the Chinese perspective. Where the protagonist is Chinese. I mean Chang is a strong character.. but he is a bad guy. And once again the strongest "good" Chinese character is a woman and inevitably there will be some sort of Romance with Bohanon. That is if the show remains on the air.

I'm just saying it's a good idea to get some of these old stories, family histories down... befor etheir gone and the only stories we have are from shows like Hell On Wheels and we have to rely on that as the only story being told. They did well.... but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make our own right?

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