“[The studios are] trying to get me to do things for the sake of being ‘exotic.’ But things Chinese will be very interesting in next few years. The opening of China will bring more understanding … And maybe in the contrast of comparison, some new things might grow. It’s a very rich period to be in. If I were born, let’s say, 40 years ago, if I had thought in my mind, ‘Boy, you’re going to star in a movie, star in a TV series in America,’ well, that might [have been just] a dream. But I think now, maybe not … I don’t want to sound “Confucius say,” but under the sky, under the heavens, there’s just one family, man.”
— Bruce Lee, the “lost interview,” “The Pierre Berten Show,” 1973
Bruce Lee passed out of this world 34 years ago this month, on July 20, 1973. I feel the need to commemorate the guy, as I think a lot of Asian American folks (males especially) do, becaue of what he still represents to this day. As far as Asian American male role models, he was and still is it for us. He was insanely popular, an international superstar. He portrayed a badass image of someone who was compassionate but not one to be fucked with. My dad and I used to watch all his movies when I was a kid, and I remember being blown away the first time I saw “Enter the Dragon,” his last fully completed film.
There is a flipside to his legacy, however, as some would argue that it has pigeon-holed images of Asian American males into a one-dimensional karate expert caricature. I wouldn’t completely disagree, but I think that it is clear from viewing his work how he tried to infuse aspects of his personal philosophy on life into much of his films. If anyone is to blame, its the damn studios that have cemented the stereotypical images. Anyone who hasn’t seen “The Lost Interview” with Bruce Lee from 1973, which I have posted below, should check it out. Its an amazing look into his outlook on everything.
Its really interesting to see how bitter and frustrated he was with the Hollywood establishment, and how things really haven’t changed much since then. Also, Jeff Yang, a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a really great tribute to Bruce Lee’s legacy today that also touches on a lot of different topics (and is much more well done than anything my ass could think up, hahah) including what things might be like if Bruce was still alive. Check it out here.