March 12, 2008

Frank Chin's Blog and Curtis Choy's Website

You ALL come here for hard hitting conversation, awesome news, and an intellectual force of Asian American issues that cannot be found anywhere else on the web.
In the spirit of the 44's remaining the leader on the web for Asian American issues, I am proud to present something that NONE of the other major Asian American blogs have, something that (for the moment, anyway), is exclusive to the loyal readers of TheFighting44s. I present you the blog of the legendary Frank Chin:
photo by Nancy Wong, 1975, San Francisco
I'm not kidding; this is the blog of the man himself--I've confirmed it with a legend in his own right, the filmmaker Curtis Choy (also pictured above). See Curtis's awesome website here.
Curtis was the maverick filmmaker who solidified Frank Chin's place in history with the excellent documentary "What's Wrong with Frank Chin." I've met some of the people in their generation, and they all told me the same thing: Curtis was CRAZY to make a documentary like that. He'd be better off making a documentary that white people would love and pay for--maybe a story about how Maxine Hong Kingston exemplifies the life of a "Woman Warrior," how Amy Tan found the love of her life, or how David Henry Hwang impressed Hallmark by dressing Bai Ling in skimpy clothes, asking her to play the goddess Kwan Yin, and making her fall in love with a white guy. Curtis could've played Asian American Lit like an ATM and laughed all the way to the bank, but instead he maintained his artistic and moral integrity and gave us a gem of a documentary. And I don't care what those Kingstonians in the universities say--we need to remember our history, and we have to understand our roots. Without brave artists/documentary creators like Curtis, how would we ever learn about our roots?
Check out the excellent poetry of Frank Chin's words from the blog:
It’s been 35 years since Maxine Hong Kingston’s THE WOMAN WARRIOR spread a lie American white racists found sweet. A lie about Mulan, the heroine of the children’s BALLAD OF MULAN bearing the tattoos of Yue Fei on her back. A few Chinese complained that her Mulan was an offensive fake. But the white press using Ornamental Orientals and “feminists” as “reviewers” praised the book for revealing the misogyny at the heart of Chinese culture.
"Ornamental Orientals?" I LOVE IT! Those 35 years of lies and distortions have affected all of us Asian Americans. Self-confidence among Asian Americans is lower than a snake's belly, and a great part of that failure in confidence comes from the relentless and baseless attacks on Asian American culture from goofballs like Kingston, Tan, and Hwang. You can see some of my other ideas here (and I'm still continuing with growing the base of knowledge that we need.)
Some more:
One of Kingston’s literary axioms is myths have to change or die. Weem’s told a story of Washington’s honesty that wasn’t true to encourage white kids to tell the truth? Why hasn’t Sociology changed the text of the myth of Jesus Christ? If they can change THE BALLAD OF MULAN they can change the myth of Christ or Hitler before the myths die, right?
This is the problem with Kingstonism in a nutshell. You cannot in good conscience make up nonsense, for example, by claiming that the Chinese word for "slave" and "woman" are the same (and Kingston actually did claim this), and then dismiss all challenges by saying it's "emotionally true." Things happened, or they didn't happen. Myths existed in one form, or they didn't. The Civil War either took place in 1861, or it didn't. History is important, which is why we study it.
Anyway, if you're an activist, you absolutely NEED to see "What's Wrong With Frank Chin." I probably don't agree with everything the man said, but his general ideas are correct, and it's a crying shame that our Asian American leaders took the easy postmodern, deconstructionist approach to Asian American culture rather than an intellectually rigorous approach based on logic, history, and the ability to create.
But the time for fooling around with Kingstonian foolishness is over. We need to see the roots of Asian American activism, which was initiated by people like Frank and Curtis, and we need to use their knowledge to determine where we think Asian American culture needs to go. As fellow 44's blogger Xian once said, "We have to win."
And because we're the next generation of leaders who come from a tradition started by people like Frank and Curtis, we already have a head start. If we want to win and are willing to put in the effort, we will.

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