Letters

Readers repond to Charles Taylor's review of "Better Luck Tomorrow" and Heather Havrilesky on "The Real Cancun."


Salon Staff
April 29, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

[Read the review of "Better Luck Tomorrow."]

Yes, the characters in "Better Luck Tomorrow" could've been played by actors of any other ethnicity, and that's entirely the point. The director Justin Lin shows Asian-Americans filling the role of normal everyday people (homicidal tendencies excepted) who don't need an "Asian reason" to justify their presence in a plotline.

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-- Brad Shao

Charles Taylor has complacently missed the point about the "treatment of this topic." Whatever the merits of "The Jasmine Trade," it is the story of Asians in America. "Better Luck Tomorrow" is a story of Americans who happen to be of Asian ethnicity. This is not a difficult distinction. Nobody demanded that "The Brothers McMullen" tell the story of a Dublin boy dealing with cultural displacement. Yet every Asian-American battles with the "foreigner" identity foisted on them by fellow countrymen like Taylor who presume to dictate to them what it means to be themselves. I'd love to know what he bases his presumed expertise on. This movie deserves better than to be dismissed on the arrogant assumptions of a writer who knows little about its subject matter and possesses even less interest in understanding it.

-- Mee Kim

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I just want to comment on Taylor's article on Justin Lin's groundbreaking Asian-American independent film, "Better Luck Tomorrow." Taylor clearly is ignorant of the fact that this movie is of extreme significance to the Asian/Pacific American community and to American audiences alike. How many other opportunities do we get to see Asian men being portrayed as normal human beings/teenagers, who don't have your typical Jackie Chan, Jet Li, or Chow Yun-Fat kung fu skills (or, rather, pseudo-kung-fu skills for Chow, who knows squat about martial arts)? Hapas (half Asian/Pacific American) like Keanu Reeves or Rob Snyder, among others, don't count because they don't come across as having Asian blood in them.

While Taylor comments on the "unoriginality" of the film, he rejects the basis on which most Hollywood films are produced -- all perpetuate stereotypes and stereotypical storylines in one way or another, whether they're a romance, comedy, mystery or other genre film. It is by this formula by which Hollywood thrives to churn out a massive number of moviegoers and large profits.

I must say that I'm quite saddened by the editor's decision to put out such a review of what is received by the Asian-American community, both young and old, to be the most groundbreaking film to have an opportunity to reach mainstream audiences since "Joy Luck Club" (which turned out to be a disappointment).

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-- ManSee Kong

[Read the "Beach Blanket Bimbology."]

I resent Heather Havrilesky's statement that "'The Real Cancun' is a reflection of just how sleazy and shallow American culture has become." Anyone who watches European television can tell you there are just as many -- and just as sleazy -- bikini, temptation, cops, local "talent," marriage marts, you name it. And don't forget the smarmy "Big Brother" originated in the E.U. The most disgusting of the lot features porcine Brits wallowing and cavorting in semi-nudity with the hard-bodied (and surely underpaid) "entertainment" staff of a Jamaican resort. Assuming that Americans have some sort of exclusive rights to sleaze and bad taste is in fact a form of negative chauvinism; Eurotrash stinks every bit as bad.

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-- Thomas Petruso


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