Criminalization/Assimilation: Chinese/Americans and Chinatowns in Classical Hollywood Film

Criminalization/Assimilation: Chinese/Americans and Chinatowns in Classical Hollywood Film

by Philippa Gates


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Criminalization/Assimilation traces how Classical Hollywood films constructed America’s image of Chinese Americans from their criminalization as unwanted immigrants to their eventual acceptance when assimilated citizens, exploiting both America’s yellow peril fears about Chinese immigration and its fascination with Chinatowns. Philippa Gates examines Hollywood’s responses to social issues in Chinatown communities, primarily immigration, racism, drug trafficking, and prostitution, as well as the impact of industry factors including the Production Code and star system on the treatment of those subjects. Looking at over 200 films, Gates reveals the variety of racial representations within American film in the first half of the twentieth century and brings to light not only lost and forgotten films but also the contributions of Asian American actors whose presence onscreen offered important alternatives to Hollywood’s yellowface fabrications of Chinese identity and a resistance to Hollywood’s Orientalist narratives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813589411
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 1,070,843
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

PHILIPPA GATES is a professor of film studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of several books, including Transnational Asian Identities in Pan-Pacific Cinemas.

Table of Contents

Part I Hollywood's Chinese America

1 Introduction 3

2 Yellow Peril, Protest, and an Orientalist Gaze: Hollywood's Constructions of Chinese/Americans 18

Part II Chinatown Crime

3 Imperiled Imperialism: Tong Wars, Slave Girls, and Opium 53

4 The Whitening of Chinatown: Action Cops and Upstanding Criminals 80

Part III Chinatown Melodrama

5 The Perils of Proximity: White Downfall in the Chinatown Melodrama 105

6 Tainted Blood: White Pears of Yellow Miscegenation 128

Part IV Chinese American Assimilation

7 Assimilation and Tourism: Chinese American Citizens and Chinatown Rebranded 155

8 Assimilating Heroism: The Chinese American as American Action Hero 183

9 Epilogue 212

Filmography 215

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 233

Index 277

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