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Due to the intuitive and emotional characteristics of the film, video screen is easier to stimulate the audience, so description of other countries’ people, history, image and customs in the film has always been a very sensitive side. “Hollywood always portrayed Muslim, Chinese and Indians as thieves, warlords and terrorists, and the East itself has been described as indecent and strange land, where life is very cheap and eroticism is pleasure and abundant.” In American film history more than one century, the Chinese people’s images have already constituted a very prominent phenomenon of Hollywood films, not only sizeable, but also diverse genre. Hollywood movies often gives the image of the Chinese is a kind of uncomfortable feeling, and some even have been distorted or be smeared. The theme of Hollywood movie shot in China, China (including the United States, Chinatown) has been portrayed as mysterious and playing with the local conspiracy, showing that the Chinese were more indecent way of life. Chinese people are not melancholy mysterious, that is heinous villains and criminals. Rampant criminal gangs, prostitutes everywhere, arms smuggling, smoking opium, the development of chemical weapons and nuclear proliferation activities – all related to the Chinese image as a “stereotyped” in Hollywood films, when he still does not rise again, filled with a thick atmosphere of Orientalism .
Due to the intuitive and emotional characteristics of the film, video screen is easier to stimulate the audience, description of other countries’ people, history, image and customs in the film has always been a very sensitive side. “Western movies always Muslims, Chinese and Indians are portrayed as thieves, warlords and terrorists, the East itself has been described as indecent and strange land where life is very cheap and with abundant sexual pleasure.” In more than a century of American film history, the Chinese people’s images in western films have already constituted a very prominent phenomenon, not only sizeable, but also diverse genre. Chinese people’s images in western films often give a kind of uncomfortable feeling, and some even have been distorted or smeared. In the films of Chinese theme in West videos, China (including the Chinatown in western countries) has been portrayed as mysterious place playing with the local conspiracy, showing that the Chinese more indecent ways of life. Chinese people are not only melancholy mysterious, but also are heinous villains and criminals. Rampant criminal gangs, prostitutes everywhere, arms smuggling, smoking opium, the development of chemical weapons and nuclear proliferation activities – all related to the Chinese image as a “stereotyped” in the western films still float back again, filled with a thick atmosphere of Orientalism.
All along, the use of salvation mode, the tragedy of love mode, super vulgar romantic mode, assimilation mode of narrative and discourse mode of operation in Western films, in a history of film with one hundred years has interpretation of the stories concerning Chinese people’s images. From Western silent films in the early twentieth century to the contemporary story of the films, China’s social environment is deplorable, and the Chinese people often lack the basic normal human emotions, cynical demeanor, temperament catchy and metamorphosis, long sleeves, long braids and the “three-inch golden lotus” and the love and marriage patterns of East woman and white man have repeatedly been paraded across the screen and relish. More recent emergence of “Red Corner”, “Little Buddha”, “Seven Years in Tibet” in the United States with nature of “anti-Chinese”, “shame China”, due to a deliberate distortion of China’s national image have been condemned by the international media, nowadays the “veil”, ” Nanking”, “Children of Huang Shi” and other American films are not tortuous to express the Americans’ mentality to save the world.
Western movies are the most important medium of the mainstream ideology in the United States and the Western countries. In the history, Western films with their strong racist prejudices and Orientalist thinking played vanguards to “demonize” China. The West often take out a virtual image of the Eastern world, resulting in the images of the Chinese people have been misunderstood or misread. Behind all this is intertwined with the complex social and cultural psychologies, such as desire, or fear, or hatred, however, the more important is the western mainstream consciousness, especially the important post-colonial theory – Orientalism, provides the ideological and theoretical foundation for the East to “construct” and “image” the West.
In short, the Chinese academic circles is both familiar and unfamiliar with Western films, familiar with the western films soon spread to China, especially since 80s, 90s in the twentieth century, split large entry and commercialism in China’s emergence, the West has the underestimated impact on Chinese people’s entertainment and cultural life. The studies on connotation and extension of the Western films already yielded fruitful results, from the rise of the United States films to the old and new development and changes of the West, from the construction of the mechanism of films to the establishment of cultural and political functions, from experience in entertainment and cultural industry to the significance of the world films have promoted the Western films to a new stage. Unfamiliar still is that many still remain in the critical level of perception and fragmentation on the understanding, many of the problems go beyond that, have not been thorough clean-up and analysis systematically, resulting in a true sense of the criticism and the absence of the phenomenon of aphasia. Clearly, the studies of Chinese people’s images in the Western films have been started in the multi-dimensional perspectives. In particular, some Chinese scholars living abroad have outstanding performance in this field of study, and in some studies have already achieved outstanding results. The results of research embodied in two aspects: First, in a comprehensive study, from the perspective of film history, outlined the historic combing out the image of the Chinese American Film in the evolution of the approximate trajectory; Second, in the case studies, the right of a more representative to reflect the Chinese people’s images in Western films would be a more in-depth explanation, but mostly are the outline and comments for specific texts and phenomena, stay in the descriptive study on the superficial aspects of the miss. Then, in the growing and deepening of globalization today, from a deeper perspective, the Chinese people’s images in the western films with one hundred years have formed what the main types, different types of images showing how the themes and contains, as well as the mainstream ideology how to affect the statements of movie media, etc., which are yet to be carefully combed and revealed.
Orientalism is one of the latest theories in the following of the post-modernist thought in the West, indicating the consciousness and mature of post-colonial theory, and is also a research hotspot in the academic community since the 90s. Western Movies are the most cultural industry with considerable global influence in the Western world, of which the ways of thinking of Orientalism and discourse hegemony are fairly typical. Therefore, Orientalism, as the main theoretical tool, is based on specific interpretation of the text, to systemically inspect the cultural elements and their narrative strategies behind the Chinese men and Chinese women’ images in Western movies more than a century, it is not only feasible, but the theories of value and practical significance are also very obvious, which is the main objective of this study.
Chapter One “Orientalism” Thinking in Western movies
In accordance with Foucault and Edward W. Said’s theory, the otherness in cultural studies refers to a culture image establish its own value and power to order and identity itself, while to shape a confrontation with itself and less than its own. In dealing with the issues of ethnic and cultural diversity, the Western films have a profound tendency to the stereotyped images of the Chinese as the right to enter their domain, although is related with the images of the Chinese with the experience in the West and Western mainstream culture for the hundred years, the Chinese people’s images as the “otherness” of marginalization in the Western images, in its behind of “fictional mold”, it reflects the Western mainstream filmmakers’ Orientalism thinking. From a social psychological viewpoint, although non-ego stereotype is inevitable, the stereotyped image in the films is derived directly from the instinct of self-identification strategies on the main images of the Western discourse in the current context of globalization.
Shaping the image of China in West there is a certain historical continuity, “in western culture – psychological structure, the potential prototype of China’s image is more firmly secure than any objective experience or external experience, with more power to shape and inclusiveness.” The Chinese people’s images in the films, or wicked, evil, cunning, or humility and supple, this change is not overnight, but showing a historic consistency, stability and continuity. So, it can be said that Western films to shape the Chinese people’s images will suffer at least two factors, one is the bilateral relation between East and West in reality, and second is the prototype of China’s image in the concept of Western culture. These two factors offset each other, influence each other. The so-called “prototype of China’s image” is the imagination of the building of heaven and hell about the styles of otherness and Orientalism.
1.1 Definition of “Orientalism”
As an important part of post-colonial theory – “Orientalism” has its own development process. As early as the late 18th century, “Orientalism” as a discipline has obtained an independent status. It originated a series of studies by Britain to India, including language (Sanskrit, etc.), laws, customs, and literature and so on. Up to the advent of decolonization, “Orientalism” is usually considered to be neutral, which is an instructive subject for the West. After World War II, people have the gradual in-depth understanding of the “Orientalism”, Orientalism is no longer refers only to scholars and their works on Orientalism, or the East national character, lifestyle or quality, but also the main means is used to handle the East affairs approach and a tool of Western imperialism. Edward Said, as the representative who holds this view, in his book “Orientalism” gave the definition: Orientalism “is not to express an explanation distinctly different with its own (or novel, alternative) – in some cases it is even annexation – desire or intention to control and manipulate”. It has a strong and special historical connection with imperialism.” Said believes that, regardless of which one stage in the history of the West, any essentialism statement writing about the basic dichotomy of the East and the West as a starting point with the Orient, Oriental, Oriental custom, the East “Mind,” the fate of the East and so on belong to Orientalism. Historically, the West led by a fictional East make the West have the ontological differences with the East, and make the West to use for adventures and biased vision to see the East, thereby creating its own nation completely different with itself, so that himself is finally able to grasp the “dissidents”. It can be felt in point from a number of literary works: Said’s “Orientalism” theory has “a strong color of ideological and political criticism, its criticism directed at the idea of Western cultural hegemony and power politics.”
“The reflection of Western on the exotic, there are two basic attitudes, one is fear, and one is desire.” Thus, in the statements of a large number of classic Western movies on the “Orient”, it can be found the intertextuality between them and this group of type-oriented “art film”: chaos, noisy, yellow arm and yellow legs, people as ant colony, in which contain the magic power can not claim of solution. Also in this yellow crowd, unexpectedly will break out unimaginable states of human nature – for the Westerner, the so-called “” is more likely linked with the Far East (mainly China and Japan).
Said believes that “the West for the understanding of Orient did not like Europeans to understand in depth, although they should have adopted a series of adventures in the Far East to obtain a more sober, more realistic ‘Orient’ consciousness.” In fact, the formation of West the East doctrine is rooted the Orient twisted imagination in the early 16, 17 century European immigrants arrived in North America. They imagine that the East is brutal, ugly, and weak. The image of the East has become the quintessence of irrational, immoral, childish and ridiculous and preposterous. In 18th century, when the European empires expanded the global, the origin of this concept has already become a long-standing prejudice. Later, the concepts of “Eastern” and “Asia” from the West are built on top of such a bias. Westerners on their own racial and ethnic have proud sense of superiority, Orientalism, only became an excuse so as to promote a political culture that it is superior to Asian countries, especially China and Japan as a basis. This kind of discrimination and prejudice to “Orient”, especially China, in the West screen there is also a large number of embodiments and the “Orientalism” in the West complexly exists.
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