December 2, 2012

American Them and Chinese Other

Watching Up the Yangtze, I couldn't get the concept of terministic screens out of my head and Burke's concept of the Other. We talked in class about the rampant stereotypes present in the depiction of the American tourists. The reason they have taken a cruise is to experience the Other. To see it for themselves, as a Them. There is a stark differences from seeing a culture/country on your own, rather than in a group specifically designed to cater to your sense of unified American-ness. When you explore a country on your own, you are the other. You are the different one. This cruise is specifically designed to keep the American's sense of Them intact, and make China seem Other, despite being in China.

Both Jerry and Cindy struggle with their assigned screens. Jerry wants to get rid of his "Chinese" screen and take up the "American" one. It seems that Jerry has already taken on the "American" view of "Chinese" being Other he fights against his designation of it. He finds being the "Chinese Other" as undesirable, he wants to be lumped in with the Them. Cindy, however, sees the Americans as Other, at least at first, and has to come to terms with herself in the terms of Otherness and her family's relation to the Old China (Other) and how she might blend in with the American Them.

 The visual shots also lend a sense of Other, but of that of the Old China becoming the Other, which is already disappearing. All of the signs, and glitter, and pomp, even the inclusion of Anglicized names for Cindy and Jerry, offer the sense that the Old China is Other, but this rapidly appearing New China is making strives to become a Them.

1 comment:

Cookie said...

For the most part I can agree with your post. But i found it interesting that you point out that in the film Jerry wanted to adopt an "American" screen. I guess I didn't really see it until you mentioned it. It makes sense because if one is trying to pick up an American screen I guess the best way to do so is try to make the American dream. Some can consider it to be very capitalist. So you have earn as much money as you can but that doesn't just happen another part of the American "motto" is to work hard. I find it to be debatable if he did work his hardest. But putting that aside can it just be that Jerry really wanted to be more American or did he just want to have more money and be successful. Why does that have to tie back to being American. There are plenty of successful people who are not American. Maybe we were supposed to see Jerry as an individual

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