Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded is the 2011 sequel to the 1988 documentary, Slaying the Dragon, and takes on the task of analyzing the contemporary status of popular representations of Asian women in the years since the original documentary was produced. Both films were created by Asian Women United, an organization founded by director and producer Elaine Kim. The 2011 film pays particularly close attention to the emergence of Asian American male filmmakers and their own conflicted portrayals of Asian women.
Professor Robin Kelley says that over the past few decades, “if anything, you see a browning of faces but a continuing whitening of character.” What is the significance of this argument to you? Can you draw from any examples in your experience with the media to support or contest this statement?
How might the rising prominence of Asian American men in cinema play into this trend as it pertains to representations of Asian American women?
Although the 1988 film was produced on a budget of $300,000 (roughly equivalent to $800,000 today) the 30-minute sequel had a budget of only $15,000. According to Kim, the organization couldn’t get funding for the sequel because “race and representation of Asian women is kind of an old idea.”
Shortly before its release at the San Francisco International Asian American Film festival, Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded in 2011 drew protest from six Asian American filmmakers whose works were excerpted in the documentary. These filmmakers argued that the clips were used without their permission, and although Kim was able to retain the majority of the footage under fair use guidelines, she ultimately withdrew one excerpt from the film The People I’ve Slept With by director Quentin Lee, an Asian American who argued that Kim’s documentary “was just a little horrifying to the filmmakers who own the rights to their work.”