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Yellow Future

Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema

Jane Chi Hyun Park

Publication Year: 2010

Yellow Future examines the emergence and popularity of techno-oriental representations in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s, focusing on the ways East Asian peoples and places have become linked with technology to produce a collective fantasy of East Asia as the future. Jane Chi Hyun Park demonstrates how this fantasy is sustained through imagery, iconography, and performance that conflate East Asia with technology, constituting what Park calls oriental style.

Park provides a genealogy of oriental style through contextualized readings of popular films-from the multicultural city in Blade Runner and the Japanese American mentor in The Karate Kid to the Afro-Asian reworking of the buddy genre in Rush Hour and the mixed-race hero in The Matrix. Throughout these analyses Park shows how references to the Orient have marked important changes in American popular attitudes toward East Asia in the past thirty years, from abjection to celebration, invisibility to hypervisibility.
Unlike other investigations of racial imagery in Hollywood, Yellow Future centers on how the Asiatic is transformed into and performed as style in the backdrop of these movies and discusses the significance of this conditional visibility for representations of racial difference.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-xv

Appropriately enough, the idea for this book came from a movie. Several summers ago I saw the science-fiction classic Brazil (1984) on the big screen for the first time. I had seen the film many times on television as a Korean American girl growing up in the American Midwest and Southwest of the 1980s, yet watching it again as a slightly more critical adult I was struck by two startling images in the dream sequences, of which, oddly, I had no ...

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1. Style, Visibility, Future

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pp. 1-27

Yellow Future builds upon and contributes to ongoing conversations in ethnic studies, film and media studies, and cultural studies around Orientalism, technology, and multiculturalism. In the following pages I show how a critical examination of “oriental style” can bring some of these conversations together. I end by focusing on the title of this book, meditating on how future might be made to mean something other than the goal of a progressive ...

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2. An Oriental Past

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pp. 29-50

Rave reviews and huge box office returns for The Dark Knight (2008), the most recent installation of the Hollywood comic franchise, underscore the relevance of Batman as a superhero for our age. Unlike most of his counterparts, who are aliens (Superman) or mutants (Spiderman), Batman has no supernatural powers. Instead, his existence is a testament to the powers of Western science and a celebration of the technological prostheses that constitute the cyborg. ...

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3. American Anxiety and the Oriental City

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pp. 51-81

Blade Runner opens in the year 2019 with a bird’s-eye view of nighttime Los Angeles, belching fire and glittering neon. A surveillance car whooshes out from the darkness, then plunges back into the city toward a golden pyramidshaped ziggurat. A huge unblinking eye is superimposed on the façade of the building before the camera takes the viewer into one of its rooms. Holden (Morgan Paull), a middle-aged bureaucrat, languidly smokes a cigarette ...

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4. Oriental Buddies and the Disruption of Whiteness

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pp. 83-123

The specter of the unborn child of Blade Runner’s Deckard and Rachael, a mixture of human and machine, recalls the largely forgotten figure of the “television child” introduced by Marshall McLuhan a little over forty years ago at a television studies conference in Austin, Texas. In his paper McLuhan associated the nonlinear mode of watching TV with the East (Asia) and the linear mode of reading books with the West (United States and Europe).1 ...

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5. Martial Arts as Oriental Style

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pp. 125-162

A year after Sony acquired Columbia Studios, Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa won an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement and the fifth–highestgrossing movie in the United States was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.1 This live-action film was based on a comic by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman that featured a quartet of pizza-eating, genetically altered street turtles trained in the martial arts by their sensei, a wise first-generation Japanese American rat. ...

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6. The Virtual Orient

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pp. 163-196

Seventeen years after E.T. demolished Blade Runner at the box office, an eerily similar scenario appeared in Hollywood. George Lucas’s heavily publicized first prequel to his space opera Star Wars bowed at theaters in May 1999, two months after the debut of an intriguing cyberpunk film by two geeky young brothers from Chicago. Once again, a feel-good, cross-marketed science-fiction blockbuster squared off with a dark, noirish film about ...

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pp. 197-200

A decade after the release of The Matrix, Asiatic tropes and imagery permeate the popular culture of a nation that, on the surface, seems devoted to acknowledging and celebrating its racial and ethnic diversity. Most nonwhite Americans, meanwhile, know the limitations of this mediated multiculturalism, which falsely advertises the achievement of a colorblind meritocracy wherein people ...

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pp. 201-203

As anyone who has done it knows, writing an academic book is hard work. I feel lucky to have stumbled across a topic that still interests me and to have received the institutional support to develop that topic into a book. I have many people to thank and apologize in advance for any unconscious omissions. ...


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pp. 205-226


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pp. 227-255

E-ISBN-13: 9780816675258
E-ISBN-10: 0816675252
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816649808

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2010