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memoirs of a geisha – hatsumomo

Memoirs of a Geisha is an Academy Award-winning film, produced in 2005 and based on a novel by author Arthur Golden. The film follows the journey of Sayuri as she rises from her roots in a small fishing village to become one of Japan’s greatest geishas (a traditional Japanese female entertainer). This clip depicts the character Hatsumomo, a well-established geisha, harassing and attacking a young Sayuri.


What are some of the qualities associated with Asian females in media? Are any of these qualities present in this clip? Thinking about the common stereotypes of Asian females in media, do the characters in this clip represent any of those types?

The author of the book upon which this movie was based, as well as the director of the film, were both white American males. Do you think this matters in terms of providing fair representations of Asian women in film? Why or why not?


Some have critiqued this film and the book upon which it was based for perpetuating two common Asian female stereotypes – the “sexy geisha” and the “dragon lady”. The author of the book, Arthur Golden – a white American male from a wealthy family – has been criticized for his representation of the geisha culture, and was even sued by a top Japanese geisha who was interview by Golden as part of his research.

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