Asians in James Bond films: the best, the baddest and the bedded

by guest contributor Bryan Thao Worra, originally published at Tripmaster Monkey

james bond asiansWhen People magazine asked Daniel Craig to name his ideal Bond girl, he pointed to the Japanese American film producer at his side, his girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell. The chap sure knows how to dodge a bullet. Sadly, Mitchell’s not 007’s love interest in the latest release of the franchise, Casino Royale. But that doesn’t mean the British superspy exists in a whitebread world of international intrigue. No, Asians have been central to the 21 films, from evil genius Dr. No to Hong Kong masseuse Peaceful Fountains of Desire. Join us now for a look at the best, the baddest and the bedded.

1962: Dr. No

dr. no james bondWow. It’s “yellow peril” right from the start with Dr. Julius No, a brilliant Eurasian scientist, who describes himself as an “unwanted child of a German missionary and a Chinese girl of a good family.” Aren’t they all?He later became treasurer of the most powerful criminal society in China and escaped to America with $10 million in gold bullion. He specialized in atomic energy, a hobby that cost him both of his hands. Never one to let that sort of thing get him down, he replaced them with bionic ones. And bit the big one by getting boiled alive. A fat lot of good those robot hands did him.

The other notable Asian in Dr. No is Miss Taro, played by Zena Marshall, a Dr. No flunky working undercover at the Colonial Secretary’s office in Kingston, Jamaica. Her brilliant idea to help her boss is sleep with Bond until a nerdy professor can come along to kill that pesky 007. She ends up getting arrested instead. But this sets up a dynamic to be repeated throughout the series. Not quite a case of sisters doing it for themselves.

1964: Goldfinger

goldfinger james bondThe man with the Midas touch can afford to cart around the iconic Oddjob, a hulking brute played by Harold Sakata who flings around a mean bowler hat and can crush golf-balls to a fine powder. And he never got a bit of dialogue. In the novel version, he apparently also ate cats. Greeeat.

1967: You Only Live Twice

you only live twice james bondAnd twice is the only way to live, with Nancy Sinatra croaking out a drippy pseudo-Japanese tune that could only come from the 60s. The film opens up in a bedroom with Ling played by Tsai Chin. After some bedroom antics with Bond, Ling presses a button on the wall flipping the bed into an upright position with Bond still on it. She then lets in a couple of gunmen who assassinate Bond. They’re not promoting an idea of crafty backstabbing Asian dragon ladies here at all. The killing, of course, is staged in order to give Bond more freedom to complete his real mission, an entire film that boils down to a big ninjas vs. SPECTRE throw-down in a volcano. Also known as Austin Powers.Of course, logic necessitates Bond undergoing special surgery to make him look Japanese to uncover the bad guys. And sleep with his friend Tiger Tanaka’s best agents, like Kissy Suzuki, played by Mie Hama, who fell for one of the worst cases of yellowface since Charlie Chan.

Tiger Tanaka was played by the recently deceased Tetsuro Tamba. Tanaka is the head of the Japanese Secret Service in You Only Live Twice, aiding Bond in defeating Ernst Stavro Blofeld, using a team of ninja warriors he just happens to have readily on hand for just such an occasion.

Of course, there has to be an Asian bad guy in this film, and that’s Mr. Osato, played by Teru Shimada. The head of Osato Chemicals and Engineering, he’s also moonlighting for SPECTRE as a henchman of Dr. Evil, um, I mean SPECTRE #1, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Unfortunately, his worst nightmare comes true: he’s shot by his own boss. Continue reading

links for 2006-11-28

Brand-new “Addicted to Race” episode out now (#49)!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

A brand-new episode of Addicted to Race is out! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. Click here to launch iTunes and subscribe today, it’s absolutely free.

INTERVIEW WITH TEDDY ZEE
teddy zee Carmen chats with movie producer Teddy Zee about the current state of representations of Asian-Americans in film and television. Zee is president of Ironpond, an entertainment company that bridges Hollywood and Asia. Previously, he was a top-level studio executive at Columbia and Paramount. He produced Hitch, Saving Face, The Pursuit of Happyness, and recently completed West 32nd.

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Racism as a face cream?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

It’s not clear to me who the client is, but I saw this ad campaign mentioned on Adrants, produced by the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

I guess the concept is that racism is like a face cream: the more you “apply” it, the uglier you become. You can see another version here and here.

Hmm… A for effort I guess, but aren’t they really trading in one set of prejudices for another? And pushing the same old beauty standard that’s shoved down our throats all day long? I mean, are these people really that ugly? Or just not up to model standards?

What do you think of the ad?

racism saatchi & saatchi

Comedian Sinbad weighs in on Michael Richards

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’ve always thought that Sinbad was corny as hell (maybe because I associate him with his parachute-panted self in A Different World) but he’s actually really on-point in this CNN interview about the Michael Richards incident.

And I think his suggestion that Richards should go to a comedy club on a Sunday night, a.k.a. black night, to speak directly to an audience, is a good one. Because doing a satellite interview on Letterman when no one can talk back at you doesn’t make you at all vulnerable.

Hat tip to Reappropriate!

links for 2006-11-27

In case you missed it…

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

Every Friday afternoon we sum up the week’s best posts from New Demographic’s various projects. Here we go!

conscious media makerCONSCIOUS MEDIA MAKER
a blog for entertainment, media, advertising and public relations professionals who are committed to bringing about more realistic, three-dimensional representations of people of color

  • One year later, how has BET changed? Last fall, BET made a lot of noise about its new entertainment team, headed up by Reginald Hudlin who brought on Toure, Nelson George, and Selwyn Hinds. Now, one year later, Forbes checks in on their progress.
  • Please note: We’re actually going to discontinue Conscious Media Maker as of today. We didn’t think of this when we came up with the idea for the blog, but there is way too much overlap with Racialicious. So, this will be the last post. Also, we have another blog in mind that we’d like to launch, so it’ll free up some time for us to focus on that new project. :)

addicted to raceADDICTED TO RACE
a podcast about America’s obsession with race

  • Episode 48: Carmen interviews Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates.” Golden reveals the elaborate system of legacy preferences and “development” cases that has created affirmative action for white wealthy students.

anti-racist parentANTI-RACIST PARENT
a blog for parents who are committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook

  • Columnist Intro – Amber: As a white woman, I was not raised to think about my race. I was supposed to be colorblind and not acknowledge that I noticed other people’s race.
  • Ask Anti-Racist Parent: book series featuring characters of color? So are there book series featuring characters of color for children out there, and I’m just not hearing about them? If so, what are they?
  • Columnist Intro – Margie: My first reaction, upon receiving an invitation to contribute to Anti-Racist Parent, was to ask who would want to listen to a middle-aged white woman talk about race. What could I possibly add to this dialog?

RACIALICIOUS
a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture

  • Kanye West: mixed race women are “mutts” and exist solely for music videos: Kanye reportedly told the magazine, “If it wasn’t for race mixing, there’d be no video girls…Me and most of my friends like mutts a lot … Yeah, in the hood they call ‘em mutts.”
  • Kramer drops the n-bomb repeatedly in racist tirade: Michael Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld, went on a racist tirade on Friday at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory after a black audience member heckled him.
  • Michael Richards on Letterman: “I’m not a racist”: The fact that Richards, when provoked by a black man, immediately reminded him that it wasn’t so long ago that he could have been lynched and made a public spectacle of, to me indicates that he is resentful of having to tolerate blacks being equal to him, and longs for the days when he could exercise his “god-given” superiority.
  • Of course Michael Richards would have rocked blackface: A clip from the 1986 movie “Whoops Apocalypse” has surfaced on the internet, featuring Michael Richards in full-on blackface, afro wig and attempting Ebonics.
  • White supremacy by any other name: Michael Richards and his ruined career are not the point here. The point is that if we’re ever to move beyond our current racial strife, we need to begin with enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge and understand America’s glaring legacy of white supremacy.

White supremacy by any other name

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

lige danielsWhen now-disgraced comedian Michael Richards screeched into his microphone “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass!” followed shortly by “He’s a n—-r! A n—-r, look, there’s a n—-r!” he was obviously attempting to drum up the vibe of a lynch mob closing in on its target. That’s some funny shit, eh?

Here’s how hilarious it is: To your left, Lige Daniels, lynched in Center, Texas, on August 3, 1920. To your right, Rubin Stacy, lynched in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 19, 1935. Here are but two among tens of millions of murders attributed to America’s long history of genocidal white supremacy.

As you can see, these are mirthful family affairs. The children are smiling innocently. The parents are proud and upstanding.

rubin stacyI guess this is Michael Richards’ comedic vision of America, and that of all those who are defending his invocation of the twisted pathology of sexualized white supremacist violence.

Yes, the n-word is “just a word”: a word that has historically led to scenes such as these. If you’re cool with such scenes, by all means continue supporting this word’s use by “edgy” white folks (you say “edgy”, I say “coward hiding in a mob”). You know why black folks “are allowed” to use the n-word (though it remains deeply controversial in the black community)? Here’s a hint: look at the pictures and see if you spot any black folks among the living. Okay I’ll fill you in: they’re the ones being murdered; white folks are the ones doing the murdering. Get it? In the context of the n-word’s countless unpunished crimes, black folks are not the accused.

“Just a word”: what a moronic defense. I suppose “war” is “just a word” as well — unless you happen to be among those getting bombed and shot. “I intend to kill you and your family” are just words too, but if someone were to say those words to me, my response would be very unwordy. I think it’s bizarre that middle-class American liberals appear to have become so comfortably, mentally astral that they believe that language and reality are somehow disconnected; as though words and thoughts are powerless postmodern playthings that have no consequences in the real world; as though every actual atrocity in human history didn’t begin with “just a word”.

Michael Richards and his ruined career are not the point here. The point is that if we’re ever to move beyond our current racial strife, we need to begin with enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge and understand America’s glaring legacy of white supremacy. As this popular comedian’s tirade shows, that legacy is alive and kicking in the American psyche. Shrugging it off as a “politically incorrect” use of an insensitive “racial epithet”, or as some mysterious “hostility” that bubbled up out of nowhere, demonstrates a profound ignorance and denial of this country’s past and present. And as long as such ignorance and denial dominate our national discourse, we will remain unable to accurately and meaningfully talk about, think about, and transcend the blood-soaked, heavy-hearted legacy of the American Color Line.

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World