King Kong is not King Kong.
People sometimes want to escape from the reality into another world, and films give them the way. Typically, the Great Depression of 1929~1933, it was just like the end of the world for many people. It was the economic crisis that the basic contradiction of capitalism and production of anarchy developed to an extreme degree of sharpness after the development of capitalism to monopoly stage, which pushed the American Capitalism to the edge of collapse. “In other period of Depression, we can always find things which we can place hope on, but now we look around and see on hope,” said former American President John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. in 1933. “We have already come to a blind alley, and we can do nothing about it,” said former American President Herbert Clark Hoover on the day after his inaugural. Based on this background, the 1933 film King Kong got great success with its extraordinary movie stunt and thrilling story. The success spawned a series of films. King Kong (2005 film) is just another remake. Anyway, King Kong is not King Kong, but the way for temporarily escaping from reality.
King Kong (2005 film) is an epic monster adventure film co-written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson. The film stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody. It is set in 1933 America, an overly ambitious filmmaker leads his team and ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, including the beautiful Ann, where they meet the dinosaurs and are attacked by the natives. King Kong, a legendary giant gorilla, responses to the scream of Ann. It is even not afraid of dinosaurs, but just likes Ann. The crew captures and displays King Kong in New York City, with tragic results.
The Chinese crew member Choy.
Among the crew members, there a Chinese called Choy. From the movie that he shows up four times, I guess that he is in charge of daily matters or physical work or may be a servant. Theoretically, the crew just wants someone to do the job good, as long as he is responsible and strong, and anyone is good. The role bears no important duty, and just does his job or does as other person does. I don’t know exactly why the director sets this role for him, but if we analyze it, we can find that it is reasonable. Especially, that time Chinese in America are commonly of low cultural level, and they always live on nothing but their hands.
First, a Chinese crew member is cheap of the same work, which is undoubtedly the truth. His name, Choy, which is from Cantonese and means vegetables, reveals that he is cheap and may be from Guangdong Province, China. Considering the whole economic situation of America that time, it is smart to get things done at a cheap price. And the filmmaker is at the edge of bankruptcy, and he annoys his boss and gets no budgets, and he even has to provide a blank check for the play writer.
Second, Chinese are hard-working, and he will do the job to the best. Chinese are faithful, and they will not live on the team while helping others secretly to harm the team. Chinese are responsible, and they evade their responsibilities.
Third, it gives some kind of mystery. This short and small person, silent and obedient, gives his face here and there just for the story. People would be curious why he gets involved in such a journey of adventure.
The final show-up of the Choy is at the bottom of the dead valley. Choy is dead and his white companion cries sadly aside, which means that Choy is recognized through his hard work to make his own contribution.
The American Chinese that time.
During 1930s, the American mainstream society was in the nervous status. Ethnic Chinese at the edge of society faced bigger challenge with the already lower society position. They were faced with double difficulties of Chinese exclusion and the impact of economic crisis.
The situation of Chinese intelligentsias during the Great Depression.
At the beginning, Chinese with low level of knowledge in America mainly lived on their strength and technologies to do physical work. In America, Chinese suffered racial discrimination from the white, and they couldn’t share the same job and education opportunities with the white. There were few Chinese intelligentsias in America, for they couldn’t get the social position and respect they deserved.
But, there were still many Chinese intelligentsias. In 1854, Rong Hong was the first Chinese graduated in American university, and he graduated from Yale University. He actively brought Chinese teenagers to America for new education, most of who chose to stay in America because what they learned couldn’t get use in old China. Wars between warlords during 1911~1937 and Japanese invasion during 1937~1945 made many rich people send their children to America for education. And 1941 broke out the Pacific War, which made more than 5000 overseas students stay in America. And they were refined and cultured, knew English well, and they greatly influenced the Chinese and non-Chinese communities.
There emerged some outstanding Chinese intelligentsias who got internalized by America and the world. Yuen Ren Chao, or YR Chao, studied in America in 1910, and then returned to China for teaching. He settled in America in 1938, and he took up the post of President of the American Language Association, President of the American Oriental Society, and taught in University of Hawaii, Harvard University, and University of California. James Wong Howe was the Chinese photographer to win the Oscar Academy Awards with Algiers (1938). He was written in American <Encyclopedia Britannica> as one of the greatest photographers in America.
Chinese intelligentsias experienced a tortuous development history, and Chinese culture and Chinese intelligentsias’ achievements were gradually acknowledged by American society.
Living condition of Chinese women in the Great Depression.
At the beginning, Chinese came to America mainly for making a living by heavy manual work, so there were few female Chinese. There were two ways for female Chinese to come to America. First, in 1931 Congress of the United States changed the 1924 legislation on banning non-American born wives of American citizens to come to America to allow Chinese females married with American citizens before 1924 to come to America, after years of protest. Second, because of serious imbalance between men and women, many Chinese males had to go back to China to look for spouses and give birth to children, which caused a lot of Chinese-born American citizens. And to become American citizens by way of American citizens’ children was the main way to come to America.
Hardworking, thrifty, and kind, those Chinese females accepted the traditional Chinese ideological and moral, and they focused on their husbands and children. They were faced with the hard life and the discrimination and hostility from the white people, in a state of panic all day long. Their activities included washing, cooking, taking care of the children, managing the vegetable garden, feeding cattle, and farming. Afraid of American discrimination and violent Chinese exclusion from the white people, the early stage Chinese females’ range of activities was limited in China town.
In the Great Depression, American Chinese females were not fragile but positive to face the crisis. They learned more living skills to help the family. They pinched pennies to give the family a somehow decent life, and minimized the influence of the crisis on the family economy. But, under the discrimination, they had narrow employment field. There was a survey that 11.7% of American Chinese females were tailors, 10.6% retailers, 7.3% laundry, 8.2% waitress, and 11.2% clerks. Private home service was the only career out of the ethnic group range. Anyhow, because they were smart, hard-working, willing to sacrifice, the American Chinese females together with their families succeeded in passing through the crisis.
In a word, relying on China town and Chinese social organizations, the American Chinese helped and supported each other to tide over the difficulties. And finally, they received the policy adjustment of American government to improve and provide space for further development of American Chinese. We can think so that, as the ethnic minority in America and under the social and cultural background of racial discrimination, the accomplishments of American Chinese are the results of their hard work, the change of the attitude and cognition of the world towards Chinese, and the social progress.