Bruce Lee: Hypermasculinization of the Chinese-American

The study we are proposing focuses on the remasculinization of the Asian-American male in particular in cinema. The shifting image of Asian-American males in popular culture starting in the 1970’s deals predominantly hypermasculinazion.   In direct contrast with World War II propaganda the American Populace was introduced to Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee is a major figure highlighting the trend, which changed popular opinion about the Asian American male from one of submissiveness to a more powerful, physically and politically, representative image. We are proposing to create a video timeline that highlights the growing or shrinking of Asian-American masculinity post World War II till modern times with emphasis on the hyper-masculinization and stereotypes created and afforded through Bruce Lee.

            The project we have in mind calls for a split of work which would have one of us creating a video timeline highlighting Bruce Lee’s growth in American culture as well as his growing masculinity as perceived by American audiences, especially Asian-American audiences.  The other one of us will be writing an accompanying short essay detailing the points brought up from the video timeline.





Works Cited

Enter the Dragon

The Chinese Connection

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

American Born Chinese

Yankee Dawg You Die

3 thoughts on “Bruce Lee: Hypermasculinization of the Chinese-American

  1. Sounds like an exciting project, guys. I think the framework needs some clarification and problematizing. In particular how you’re approaching the “masculinity” problem and where Lee falls into that: re-masculinizing vs. hyper-masculinizing. How will you guys address Lee’s move to Hong Kong (both in your video and narrative) following displeasure with opportunities in the US, and the subsequent success he had because of his ventures after departing from the US, and which led to collaborations with US based film studio Warner Bros? And how about the after-life of his films and his image (Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee in the biopic?).

    And will you actually be starting with images and footage from the WWII era that depicts Chinese men? There is historical “Know your enemy” footage distributed by the US military meant to teach soldiers how to tell the difference between enemy Asians (Japanese) vs. ally Asians (Chinese). Will see if I can dig these up. These might be interesting in the longer timeline.

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