This clip from the 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story shows a young Bruce Lee on a date with his future wife, Linda, to a showing of the classic 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. During one of the film’s scenes played for comedy, Bruce becomes visibly uncomfortable while the rest of the audience laughs and enjoys the scene. The scene features White actor Mickey Rooney playing Mr. Yunioshi as a stereotypical caricature of a Japanese photographer. Linda, noticing Bruce’s reaction, suggests that they leave the theater. At the time of the film’s release and continuing today, many have criticized Rooney’s portrayal as emblematic of “yellowface.”
What did you notice about the Asian character from Breakfast at Tiffany’s shown in the theater? How is he stereotyped?
How do the reactions of Bruce Lee and the rest of the audience/ Linda differ? Why are their views different?
How do you think the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story differs from Breakfast at Tiffany’s in its representation of Asian Americans?
Stereotypes are often used in comedy. Should we interpret stereotypes differently if they are knowingly comedic? Why or why not?
Have you ever seen an old piece of media that made you uncomfortable because of its regressive representations? Have you ever felt like you were alone in your reading and understanding of a piece of media?