Moo, moo, A Potential Homicide & the Climax of ‘Yankee Dawg You Die’

Act II, Scene I

“Cows that have a double life? The dumb facade they show to the outside world and their true cow selves that they show to one another when they are alone? Moo, moo?”

“I killed someone…Well, as they walked passed, one of them looked at my girlfriend and said, “Hey, look at the yellow pussy.”…So I pulled a knife and stabbed him…That was over 10 years ago. I hope with my heart he’s OK.”

This first line is a direct metaphor to the Asian American actors in Hollywood at the time of the play, it refers to the mixed feelings of complacency and assertion by Asian American actors and how sometimes its just easier to do what they are told even if it is demeaning because eventually they feel like it will change, eventually. The quote says that to others, mainly White people who are employers, they act a certain way or however they are told to act, but with people they feel comfortable around, other Asian American actors, they can be themselves.

The second set of lines shows the want to fight back the oppression and racism. Some comments were mentioned in the play that all Asian Americans are the same, when an Asian American such as Bradley was pushed to his limit by being harassed by this White male, he was fed up because he felt attacked not only by that one person, but by all the Caucasians around him. He later understands that such violence doesn’t change any misconceptions and only makes matters worse and he doesn’t hate White people, but he hates the stereotypes.

Although some of the allusions mentioned in this play were hard to follow, due to my lack of knowledge on Asian American pop culture, I felt like this scene is the climax or character realization of the play. Before this scene, Bradley was political in his choices for auditions and mainly worked with the Theatre Project of Asian America limiting him to roles of Asian American men that were not stereotypic. Vincent on the other hand took any role whether it was stereotypic or not in order to open up the market for Asian American actors to work. By the end of the play the roles were switched, Bradley took up any role in hopes of changing the industry even if just a little bit, and Vincent worked in an independent film that reminded him of being at home with his father something comfortable and not stereotypic.

I enjoyed the short play because it gave an insight on the struggle between being complacent, becoming something you’re not and being assertive to your own pride and dignity because all ethnic minorities and even “outsiders” such as disabled people, the LGBTQ community and religious minorities have at some point struggled with this complex.

3 thoughts on “Moo, moo, A Potential Homicide & the Climax of ‘Yankee Dawg You Die’

  1. I almost feel like the first line (about the cows) can be applied to any minority group, not just Asian Americans in Hollywood. In a way it almost seems to show and enforce the idea that ethnic groups are more comfortable amongst their own group. In this sense, they can be more themselves, and not be scared to make comments that a person of a different ethnicity might not know, or talk about a subject that a person of another ethnic group might not understand. It is true that when you are amongst people who are more like you and understand you, you are going to be more open than when associating with a group of people who’s culture and beliefs are completely different from your own.

    This entire play can apply to any minority group. It seems to show the struggle that people are having deciding whether to stay away from situations that will embarrass their culture so they can keep their “dignity”, or to go mainstream and accept the fact that people are going to constantly stereotype them. In regards to Hollywood, it would seem that all other minorities are facing the same problems as Bradley and Vincent in the play. Each ethnicity has a different stereotype or consistent role that they are seen as playing in movies, with the typical hero being a white man. What is one to do in this situation? Should a person purposefully taunt and further solidify stereotypes against their own ethnicity? Or should they refuse to do such things as a way to try to get rid of the stereotypes?

  2. Hi there! I believe you covered majority of the important themes fairly well and accurately -at least according to the correlations in ideas we had. I myself could not accurately determine whether there was a climactic moment intended at all. I found some of your ideas very interesting, particularly your coverage of Bradley’s retaliation as an Asian-American male. I was a sucker to the ‘homicide’ part of your title..

    Seeing how an Asian male is traditionally portrayed as a considerably less masculine version of the western man, the idea of revoking others seemed unlikely. Yet your example of his deliberate assault does well in combating this presumption. Rather than stand idly and abide by the rules like a ‘good model minority,’ Bradley demonstrates a fiercer spectrum of a frustrated Asian American. The author most likely included this overstepping of prescribed boundaries to critique the common assumptions of a weak Asian- and how he too could ascend to be a Western equal .
    Your other discussion of Vincent and Bradley’s differences are on point. Whereas initially Bradley can be seen trying to preserve his culture and tradition (Confucian value), Vincent is shown with instances of assimilation. In other words, I see Vincent as a more passive and fitting example of the commonly stereotyped Asian American male. In a sense, both of these characters seem to hold a level of pride towards their origins, but Vincent and Bradley copes with American pressures differently. I remain uncertain however, regarding the motives of the author behind the reversal of characteristics in the end. Perhaps Philip Kan Gotanda was suggesting the necessity of finding a balance between the acceptance and rejection of American demands to change?

  3. In my close relationships class, I learned that everyone shows a different side of them to people from different parts of their lives. Mary may be kind to her younger sister, rebellious towards her parents, open to her best friends and completely cold towards her ex. I believe this holds true regarding the ethnic groups you are interacting with at the time, but not simply because of the people’s ethnicities – I think it has more to do with the fact that people of different ethnicities are involved in different parts in a person’s life. So I don’t think the first quote is exclusive just to ethnicity.

    I agree with you about the second quote – Bradley acted in a moment of emotion, and once he had time to reflect on his actions he regretted them. He took out his feelings of oppression on a person who represented his oppressors. But he did not change anything for the better.

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