The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #71726   Message #3257761
Posted By: GUEST,josepp
15-Nov-11 - 06:53 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Ching Chong Chinaman Song
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ching Chong Chinaman Song
In America during the coon song era (1890s), there are a number of racist songs directed at Asians. James Powers's 1898 recording "Chin Chin Chinaman" being an example. It's the same words that have been posted here over and over again: "Chin Chin Chinaman velly velly sad, etc." But he intersperses it with chinky gibberish throughout. There's Dan W. Quinn's "Mr. Jappy Jap Jappy" from 1897.

This was the era of the Yellow Peril and things were very bad for Chinese people in America. They lived under no less oppression, brutality and terror than Southern blacks. Robert Louis Stevenson traveled the US at that time and rode the rails. He noted that whites never looked at nor spoke to Chinese people--as though they were invisible--except to occasionally curse at or insult them, never discussed them except to talk shit about them even as they rode upon the very rails many Chinese men laid down often at the cost of their lives. Everywhere the trains went, the way was strewn with the bones and spattered with the blood of the untold thousands of Chinese men who gave their lives and without whom the job could not have been done.

Yet, in this photo taken at the completion of the Transcontinental railroad, one cannot help but notice the complete absence of Chinese workers. That's because they were forcibly removed before the photo was taken. We can't have white people not being the one and only heroes, now can we?

While a black man could rise to some level of respectability during that period--a large number of blacks were educated and literate and some as Bert Williams were among the highest paid in their fields--there was no such avenue open to Chinese.

By 1919, D. W. Griffith made the first interracial love movie in America called "Broken Blossoms" concerning the love between a Chinese man and a white woman. Of course, the Chinese man was played by a white man in yellowface (Richard Barthelmess) but even so, it was a daring movie where the white audience is being persuaded to pull for this couple over the whites who try (and eventually succeed) in destroying the relationship. So daring, that Hollywood for decades wouldn't try to repeat it with rare exceptions.

Instead, the white man was paired with the exotic Far Eastern woman in movie after movie for decades. Shocking that Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" was repackaged as "Miss Saigon" and still managed to be a huge attraction as though no time at all had passed between the two productions instead over 80 years. White men have this thing about Far Eastern women killing themselves over them. Not surprisingly, no Westerner has done a thesis on this strange fetish. And I'll believe it was based on a true story when someone can prove to me that "The Last Samurai" is historical instead of another patronizing piece of crap that could have been made 70 years ago judging from all the old stereotypes that were trotted out and shamelessly paraded around.

But then I suppose it's on Asians to reject these types of roles or it won't change. And it's time to silence those Asians who deliberately try to perpetuate this colonialist crap (Amy Tan and Lucy Liu, for example) which any Asian-American should find a complete embarrassment and obstacle to progress. Either that or get used to being Ching Chong Chinaman.