Professor Shimizu Analyzes Bruce Lee's Masculinity in Film

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

BACKSTORY RADIO -- Conversations about U.S.-China relations often revolve around tariffs, trades and recently, President Donald Trump’s tweets. So on this episode of BackStory, Nathan Joanne and special guest host Erika Lee go beyond the standard narrative of U.S.-China relations and learn about three Chinese and Chinese American people who worked to change American perceptions of China.

Celine Parreñas Shimizu is director of the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. She says Bruce Lee did much to defy stereotypes, particularly the idea that Asian men were a feminine and weak. But for Celine the measure of Lee’s masculinity can’t simply be reduced to brute strength. It’s the way Lee couples violence with regret, sexuality with consent, these are the key components of what she refers to as Lee’s ethical manhood.

“There’s a scene that I study where the woman who he’s having a romantic connection with, they look at each other,” Shimiuzu said. “The way they first meet each other is during the scene, almost like a house party where everyone’s drinking and the men are talking about how you are really powerless in the face of a really sexual woman and you can’t really help yourself, but you have to get with them because that’s what they want. It’s brutish and really horrible.”