13 March 2020

Published March 11, 2020 by rochellewisoff

 

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr

The frog’s not blue, but will be if you don’t click her. 

Genre: Women’s History

Word Count: 100

FROSTED YELLOW WILLOW

“Wong Liu Tsong often played hooky from school to see movies at the Nickelodeon.” Lily Wu read her report aloud. “When she grew up, she changed her name to Anna May Wong and overcame many obstacles to become a famous film star.”  

            Tim Wu rolled his eyes. “If it’s a great Chinese actor you want, write about Jackie Chan.”

            “It’s Women’s History Month. Now—one of Anna’s biggest disappointments came in 1935 when Hollywood passed her over for the role a Chinese woman in The Good Earth.”

            “So?”

            “The role went to a Caucasian actress. What’s wrong with this picture?”

*Frosted Yellow Willow is the literal translation of Wong Tsiu Tsong. 

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104 comments on “13 March 2020

  • And Hollywood is usually so careful about its casting of ethnic minorities!
    I remember, m’lady, Mel Gibson as the least authentic Scot in history, although Christophe Lambert came close.
    But at least they had a similar skin colouring…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear CE,

      Hollywood might be careful about ethnic minorities now but they certainly weren’t then. As for Mel Gibson as a Scot, mostly what I remember about that movie was it being about 2 hours too long. Thank you for your comments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Such good examples, C. Mel Gibson’s accent in Braveheart is awful, Christophe Lambert’s is execrable as Highlander, which is the role I’m guessing you’re referring to. Though, if you remember, Sean Connery does a fine turn in that film – as Spaniard with a very heavy Scots accent! 🙂

      Like

    • Dear Tanille,

      One of my earliest remembrances of the change in film came with “Little Big Man” where Native Americans were actually portrayed by Native Americans. It made me happy. I’m happy to see the trend in so many ethnicities on the screen. Thank you re my story.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Good story, Rochelle. Although I enjoyed the old Charlie Chan movies, it was a shame they used a Swedish actor, Warner Oland, to play the part when there were no doubt good Chinese actors who could have done it. They did choose Asian actors to play his children and I seem to remember his wife in one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Sandra,

      The pendulum do swing. 😉 Personally, I’m weary of remakes, even for a worthy cause. Does originality exist anymore? At any rate, thank you for your comments and compliment. 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • The ridiculousness of that comes to mind when I remember the movie Winnetou that was shot in my country in 1963, when locals were cast as Native Americans. How many great artist were robbed for same stupid reasons. You wrote very important story that needs to be told over and over again.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Wonderfully done! Love how you went Chinese for this one. Racism was not always just against blacks. Think of Geishas played by Chinese instead of Japanese, too… seriously? Lovely that you bring these stories forth in your inimitable way.

    Shalom and lotsa love of all colours and ethnicities,

    Dale

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Linda,

      Hollywood was full of racism and misogyny, wasn’t it? My grandfather stopped my aunt from pursuing a career in acting because he knew from another relative about the “casting couch.” The movies might have been family friendly, but the industry wasn’t.

      Thank you re my story. 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ah, another gem! The realities of how totally crass Hollywood was (and sometimes can still stumble like a blind bull in a china shop – NO PUN!) about culture and cultural appropriation and using caricatured characters played by the wrong people … Oy.
    I read a fabulous book not too long ago, which reminds me of this real-life actresses story. I’ll try to remember the name … (which is OF COURSE hiding from me at the moment).
    Na’ama

    Liked by 2 people

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      Leave us not forget the casting couch where the Harvey Weinsteins flourished. (I grind my grogger to blot out his name.) Knowing these things makes it difficult to watch certain old flicks.
      At any rate, a hearty todah rabbah! (I know enough Hebrew to be dangerous 😉 )

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

      • Yeah, I’ve very little patience for icky men with sticky hands and leery eyes. Men who do that are not “confused” by women setting boundaries or what is or is not okay to do – they CHOOSE to do wrong because they think they should be allowed to and that women should keep their mouths shut. That, and the old films reinforcement of such views (and cultural ickies) indeed make some old films squirm worthy.
        As for the “dangerous” Hebrew … play please let me know more about what you meant …
        אני סקרנית!!! 🙂
        Na’ama

        Liked by 1 person

  • Rochelle, good story that highlights one (of many) big flaw(s) in casting. My kids refused to see either “Ghost in the Machine” or “Cloud Atlas” because Caucasians play Asian roles in them.
    Sincerely,
    Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

  • I remember even as a youngster, yes that was long ago, it bothered me then that caucasians played the role of Indians. And, most of them badly. Then, when talkies came out….., never mind. Lol. Good job of highlighting another inequality in gender/race.

    Liked by 3 people

  • I’m torn on actors playing different ethnicities. On one hand, if it’s done wrong (Micky Rooney in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”), it can be offensive, and casting a Caucasian over a qualified Chinese woman for the role of a Chinese woman is just wrong. If it comes from an ethnically insensitive place or discrimination, I’m against it. On the other hand, acting, by definition, is pretending to be something one is not. Restricting art is tantamount to censorship, which is evil. Right above me, Lisa referenced “Cloud Atlas.” Actors of various ethnicities played multiple characters. Many of them portrayed characters of different ethnicities, genders, and ages. It was beautifully done. It was amazing to see how the actors were transformed. It’s a great movie and book, one of my favorites.

    Good story. Educational, as always.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Nobbin,

      I never had a clue what was going on in “Cloud Atlas.” I think there’s a fine line in casting. I don’t have a problem with Al Pacino playing an elderly Jewish man. And Rod Steiger played everything from The Pawnbroker to a southern cop in “The Heat of the Night.” But I would have had a problem with Paul Newman being cast as the Virgil Tibbs in the same film. And no matter how much you make them up, Caucasians don’t pass for Asian. Mickey Rooney was all kinds of wrong.

      Thank you re my story and thank you for sharing your perspective.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • That’s still going on today, only not so much in putting in caucasion actors/actresses. I’ve reead several books lately before watching the movies/tv shows based on them to find the main character a different race than in the book. In some cases it makes no difference, but in others, whole sections or storylines would have to be left out if the other books are picked up. Oh well, that’s Hollywood. Whatever sells, I guess right and wrong and author’s visions don’t really come into it.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Dear Rochelle,

    How times have changed? Or have they really? The whole subject of race has always been like walking on red-hot coals. There’s prejudice by people of all races towards other races.

    It reminds me of a children’s story called Tusk Tusk by David McKee that I used to read to my son about a time when white elephants and black elephants were at war but then made peace, so all elephants interbred and became grey. After which the large eared grey elephants started fighting the small-eared grey elephants. I thought it a very observant book.

    I think that Anna May Wong was very beautiful and talented, and I agree that it was unjust for her to have been passed over in favour of others, but then these days many women attest to having been passed over because they said “no” to performing sexual favours. Hollywood will always be a tough place to be, whatever the colour of your skin.

    Thanks for writing another one of your excellent historical pieces that illustrate so much in so few words…. and, of course, promote much discussion.

    All best wishes,
    Sarah

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Sarah,

      I have to admit I’m sometimes nonplussed when the comments are more about my story than my stellar (tongue firmly in cheek) writing. Then i remind myself that’s what a writer does. Discussion means nothing in the writing distracted from the subject. 😀 Therefore discussion is a compliment. But we artist/author types tend to let our egos be our guides, don’t we?

      Humans are strange creatures, building racial barriers.

      Personally, I’ve always held a fascination for Asian cultures and people. One of my earlier jobs was as a server at a Chinese restaurant. It was owned by the Chun family. Once, during a particularly busy time, Mrs. Chun, Nancy rattled off instructions to me in Chinese. Of course I had no clue what she said. When she realized what she’d done she laughed and translated. They were lovely people. Operative word: people.

      Okay, stepping off my soapbox now and saying thank you for the affirming comments, including those about my writing. 😉

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • That is a shame and undoubtedly wrong, that she was excluded from roles , and deprived of the career and honor her abilities and talents would otherwise have earned. Clearly decision-makers of all stripes have erred in the past and excluded or sidelined too many that were not born to privilege. These blatant wrongs appall us now, but we, no doubt, commit millions of tiny (or not so tiny)slights on a daily basis, as unknowingly as they committed theirs, then.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Thankfully times have changed and casting is more reliable now, Rochelle. Although wasn’t there recently a dispute because a straight actor had been cast in a gay role. Whilst I can see the premise of the argument I’m not sure why it was an issue, gay men have played straight roles since films began.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Michael,

      I missed that dispute. I’d hesitate to call that the same thing. Rock Hudson, Charles Laughton, and Richard Chamberlain come to mind. Jim Parsons played a straight role in The Big Bang Theory. Lest we lose sight of what acting is about.

      Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Thank you – again – for highlighting a woman who’s not as well known as she should be. It’s a personal tragedy for those who forge the way for others – because she was the first Asian American woman to make it big in Hollywood, she had to pave the way, taking cliched roles, missing out when she should have been a shoo in. Without these people, succeeding generations of actors wouldn’t have had any success. Little compensation for her though. And to miss out on that particular role – wow! The racism! Thank you, as always, Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Lynn,

      At least she had the courage to go after what she wanted. One has to admire that. I just wish, sometimes it could’ve been different for people like Anna May or Josephine Baker. The land of the free and the home of the brave seems to have failed at tolerance. Thank you for your affirming words.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s not only the States, though, Rochelle. We watched a truly disturbing BBC documentary last night on Holocaust denial. What some people convince themselves of, in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, truly beggars belief. The vile prejudice underlying it all is unspeakable. People can be wonderful, inspirational – and truly depressing

        Like

  • Dear Mayapple Fritter W(T)F,

    I got passed over too. I tried out for one of Jed Clampett’s kids, but they said I was too crude for Beverly Hills. The part went to Donna Douglas instead. The poor girl had no talent. Every line sounding like she speaking from a Dick & Jane reader.

    I also could have been Dennis the Menace. My first name is Dennis, you know, and I was quite a menace. Personally, I thought the part was below me and turned it down.

    Don’t ask me to play an Asian (or a mime) in a film though, that just ain’t right.
    Onion Ringer

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Onion Ring,

      It would be difficult to get the whiteface makeup out of your beard, although it would blend in with it.
      Yeah, Donna Douglas. No talent. No looks. She was the ugly woman in the TZ classic “Eye of the Beholder.”
      I can picture you with the Dennis the Menace cowlick. It fits your personality or should I say, personality disorder?
      You should be on the stage…;)

      Shalom,

      Mayapple Fritter W(T)F

      Like

      • Yes, poor Donna also starred (using the word lightly) with Elvis in “Frankie & Johnny”
        Sadly, that flick was a waste of time and studio money, but it must’ve been fun to work with Elvis. I wonder what Granny thought.

        Like

  • Hello Rochelle!
    It’s been a long time since I’ve joined in and I can say, I have missed it.
    I love your work, shining a light on the wrongs of history and what still takes place in modern day. This one is close to my heart, as seeing fellow actors and actresses overlooked because they don’t fit social concepts is hard. The industry is getting better, but there is still a way to go.
    Thank you,
    Hugs, Heidi xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Heidi,

      It makes me happy to see Asians portraying Asians, Native Americans portraying Native Americans and so on. Better than when I was a kid back in the dark ages. 😉 Good to see you back. And thank you for your kind comments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • I holidayed in Italy as a young girl and I remember relaxing in our hotel room one afternoon watching a Chinese movie dubbed in Italian. Bizzare! There’s so much truth in your writing, sad to see people swept aside because they don’t fit the mold. Beautiful story.

    Liked by 2 people

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