Watching Joy Luck Club: Theorizing the Anachronism

By Nick (Chi-Shu) Yeh.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The film adaptation of Joy Luck Club has been a commercial and critical success. But while joining the crowd to cheer for the film, if one cares to take a closer examination of the film, he/she may notice that the film made quite a few anachronistic mistakes. A Chinese character, supposed to express her sorrow and agony in Chinese, actually cried for help in Vietnamese. In a scene which depicted 1930s-1940s China, the production team had a song performed by a 1970s pop singer as the background soundtrack. How could these mistakes (as well as others) be tolerated in a realist film (as opposed to fantasy, comedy) as Joy Luck Club? Why has the film been well-received regardless of all these anachronistic errors? This essay’s basic argument is that, those errors are a result of the US producers’ self-centeredness, which made them insensitive to the differences between all of the others, the history of those others, or “the” other that they attempted to portrait in the movie, and in turn, the audience has been taught to disregard all these differences. The paper will borrow T.T. Minh-ha’s insights to conceptualize the “appreciation” of those anachronistic errors and place the phenomenon in a greater socio-historical context.

Keywords: Master Language, Imperialism, Euro-American-Centric

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.311-320. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 715.520KB).

Nick (Chi-Shu) Yeh

Graduate Student, Cultural Studies, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA

Nick (Chi-Shu) Yeh is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His research interest revolves around media representation and audience reception. He also does some creative writing.

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