What’s “Wong” and Right: The Gaze in The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

My dearest readers: I am taking a break from the norm of travel posts to discuss something that I hope to also cover moving forward in this blog.

I have had numerous racial incidents occur in the past month than I have had in the year prior. As a result, I wanted to reblog the below blog post which I wrote for a class at the Unviersity of Michigan, which I hope provides insight as to the issues Asian/Asian-American women face in this country and why I have a problem with men telling me they “are into Asian women” and that we look “exotic”.

Thanks for reading.

xx

(area of focus in film: 1 hour:31 minutes:37 seconds – 1 hour:34 minutes:08 seconds)

Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” piece was groundbreaking in communication studies academia with its “political use of of psychoanalysis” to reveal the “patriarchal unconscious that represents women in film as objects of a male’s gaze” (Mulvey, p. 1). This idea of the “castrated woman,” whose identity is shaped by her “absence of penis” through the male experience is clearly illustrated in The World of Suzie Wong (1960) where the main character, Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan), a Chinese prostitute, is the object of obsession for protagonist, Robert Lomax (William Holden), an American hoping to make it as a painter in China (Mulvey, p. 6). While the classic Hollywood film supports Mulvey’s original argument in its plot and characterizations, I argue that the film also invites a different kind of gaze with its East v. West dynamic: that of the male orientalist.

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