Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance
By: Hye Seung Chung
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From silent films to television programs, Hollywood has employed actors of various ethnicities to represent "Oriental" characters, from Caucasian stars like Loretta Young made up in yellow-face to Korean...Read more
From silent films to television programs, Hollywood has employed actors of various ethnicities to represent "Oriental" characters, from Caucasian stars like Loretta Young made up in yellow-face to Korean American pioneer Philip Ahn, whose more than 200 screen performances included roles as sadistic Japanese military officers in World War II movies and a wronged Chinese merchant in the TV show "Bonanza". The first book-length study of Korean identities in American cinema and television, "Hollywood Asian" investigates the career of Ahn (1905-1978), a pioneering Asian American screen icon and son of celebrated Korean nationalist An Ch'ang-ho. In this groundbreaking scholarly study, Hye Seung Chung examines Ahn's career to suggest new theoretical paradigms for addressing cross-ethnic performance and Asian American spectatorship. Incorporating original material from a wide range of sources, including U.S. government and Hollywood screen archives, Chung's work offers a provocative and original contribution to cinema studies, cultural studies, and Asian American as well as Korean history.
The author has succeeded in bringing an oft-neglected artist and part of film history back into the forefront of scholarly literature. Highly recommended." Library Journal " Hollywood Asian is an...Read more
The author has succeeded in bringing an oft-neglected artist and part of film history back into the forefront of scholarly literature. Highly recommended." Library Journal " Hollywood Asian is an exciting and original contribution to Asian American and Korean studies ...It is clearly written, making it accessible to a wide readership in a number of disciplines." Chris Berry, Goldsmith's College, University of London "Hollywood Asian is meticulously researched ...an excellent and important contribution." Darrell Y. Hamamoto, University of California, Davis "Chung crafts a compelling exploration of how the cinematic representation of Korea and its people became a palimpsest for American domestic and foreign anxieties...the exemplary depth and nuance to Hollywood Asian's analysis highlights the complex but intimate ways that America's cultural imagination is tied into international relations and tensions." The International Journal of Communication "Fascinating...this book makes an excellent contribution to the growing body of work on Asian Americans in the cinema...Essential." Choice "Chung's book is well researched and well written. Unless the reader is a film historian, much of the content is new and illuminating...Chung makes a critical point about the persistence of reductive images and perception." Korean Quarterly "Chung paints a fascinating portrait...While the book is theoretically provocative, it is at its best when reporting little-known information about Ahn and the Asian American actors with whom he worked...By illuminating the rich and complex career of a Korean American trailblazer in Hollywood cinema, Hollywood Asian should prove quite useful for scholars in Asian and Asian American studies and U.S. film history." The Journal of American History Sept. 2007 "[O]ffer[s] important new opportunities to develop our understanding of the transnational history of Hollywood cinema. From the vantage point of the particular systems of production, representation and reception concerning the deployment of East Asian actors within American narrative filmmaking, [it] uncover[s] valuable insights into Hollywood's global strategies during a time of enormous political upheaval and cultural change regarding the construction of American self-identity and the USA's attitudes to its East Asian citizens and neighbours. [Chung] write[s] impressively from 'within' in order to stage...understanding of the ambivalent status...of Americanization and modernization...Chung deploys an active model of textual analysis and spectatorship which argues that, as an example of the Asian 'cross ethnic performer', Ahn occupied a particular status within Hollywood...Chung's book goes on to trace the varied elements of Ahn's career...generat[ing] numerous useful insights...propose[ing] a vital contribution to the current reconceptualization of Hollywood cinema within the framework of modern international film studies." Alastair Phillips, Screen 2008, issue 49
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