Monday, December 5, 2011

What We Can Learn From China

So, I wrote my SCD and even my prospectus for the Final Project for class tomorrow about tropes created in representation. I generally have seen these tropes as something that is negative, or limiting. Also I have previously just look at characters as carrying representation. But now that I think about it, can't Up The Yantze be a representaton of unfair class distiction that we could apply to our own situation here in the States.

I blogged last week about how self-representation that Cooper called for may not be the answer for limiting misrepresentation. I was starting to agree with Butler that representation in and of itself was a dead end kind of undertaking. However, maybe this is a more positive function of representation. If we can somehow see ourselves in others even if they are different. What I mean is we should see in Jerry an elitist attitude that Americans often display themselves. The struggles of Cindy's family should remind us that poverty is real, it should call us to action. I am thinking that maybe responsible representation is very much up to the reader. We aren't supposed to figure out how we view other people based on these representations, but rather we are supposed to see ourselves. This is just a thought, I'm thinking McCloud or Barthes might help me here and when I get a chance to read those again I think I am going to continue this thought via comment. Any thoughts?


  1. I think that your claims about Americans as being entitled is quite true. Being in a first world country, we are far removed from many of the horrors that plague most of the other world. One scene in particular from Up the Yangtze that stuck with me was when Cindy's father was getting water from a bucket. I thought to myself, I hope that's not his drinking water, because it looked very dirty. My suspicions were confirmed when he drank it. I don't know of any time that my water has been dirty and it sickens me to think that there are people in the world that don't have access to something that is replenished. I think the meme "first world problems" is something that would exemplify Jerry. In it, things that aren't really problems are blown out of proportion because of the way we live. In one of the pictures (which I'm putting in a link for) there is a pantry full of food and a closet full of clothes and the caption reads, nothing to eat, nothing to wear. I wonder what people here would do if they really had nothing to eat or wear.

  2. I'm not sure that we are supposed to see ourselves in the Chinese people that are in Up the Yangtze, but I do think that we are supposed to see things that we can sympathize with in the characters in this film. This relates back to the idea of terministic screens in that we can only understand things in the terms that we know. The director clearly understood this and decided to show a Western audience things that a Western Audience could relate to. A Western Audience wouldn't be able to relate to a quite and timid Chinese woman who quietly, dutifully, and stoically fulfills works to support her family, but a Western audience can very easily understand the ego and greed of a young teenage male. They can very easily understand a young girl who cannot go to school because her family cannot afford it so she has to go to work to support them. I think it was a matter of showing a Western audience Eastern Culture in Western Terms.


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