Tag Archives: Vincent Chin

A Response to Who Killed Vincent Chin? and The Cheat

Before you start reading, this post seems to be perpetually popular in my traffic statistics. The question this brings up for me is whether this is one of the few commentaries on these specific texts / films, or if there is another reason. I would appreciate insight, if you care to leave a comment. If not, you should probably read my statement on plagiarism. Thanks! On to the reason you’re here:

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Both Who Killed Vincent Chin?and The Cheat should cause a modern audience to cringe. Because these cringes may be for two different reasons, the visceral reactions to these films deserve some investigation and explication. In the earlier movie, The Cheat, the orientalist approach to the representation of the villain and the exploitation of popular prejudices against Asian people serve to drive the narrative. Looking back on this film from 1915 offers a chance to examine the unquestioned prejudices and expectations of Asian people during early 20th century America. Who Killed Vincent Chin?, on the other hand, is a much more recent production and offers an examination of both the similarities and differences to those prejudices and expectations in late 20th century America. That the changes displayed between the two films mostly offer only superficial effect offers commentary about the distance still remaining to be traveled in treating prejudice and racism in America today.

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