Mr Daisy is watching Fate Is the Hunter (1964) on Turner Classic Movies, featuring the very beautiful and talented Nancy Kwan. (at left, on the cover of LIFE MAGAZINE)
Kwan first hit the big time co-starring with William Holden in The World of Suzie Wong (1960), a movie I admit I loved as a little girl. (Yes, we all freely consumed racism and sexism with our breakfast cereal, didn't we?)
One of my favorite blogs, Restructure!, once addressed that signature "Chinese" riff that always pops up in old movies like Suzie Wong. Really a great post, and I just thought of it, so decided to link it now (better late than never!). Short version (but read it all): the little tune is a western invention. Who knew? I had always assumed it was from a real song, possibly a Chinese nursery rhyme (or equivalent):
This riff [click on link to hear sound file] appears in orientalist American and British pop songs like “Kung Fu Fighting” (1974) and “Turning Japanese” (1980). However, the “proto-cliché” or rhythmic pattern of “da-da-da-da, da da, da da, daaah!” originated in the 1800s, and has since been ubiquitous in pop culture to signify (and other) Asian culture or Asian people.As I said in the comments of the post, my grandmother had an old music-box with a "china doll" figure that spun around, as a variation of the tune played. I was surprised to learn it was a westernized fake.
This in turn reminded me of the first record by Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra back in 1978, in which they made various "American sounds" (including a song that sounded like the well-known Marlboro cigarette commercial from the 60s). They imitated raucous American laughter, doing impersonations of white American male haw-haw-hawing. I was jarred by it and wondered if that was how Americans sounded to Asians? (I always wonder about stereotypes of Americans in other places.)
My blog has been linked again (oh goody!), but the comments are so uniformly hostile and negative, I've decided not to go back and read the rest of them. Sorry kids, grandma is sitting this one out.
Self-preservation in Blogdonia! I am learning, at long last. :)