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“I’m Michael Jackson, You Tito”

“I’m Michael Jackson, You Tito”

Kung-Fu Fighters and Hip-Hop Buddies in Martial Arts Buddy Films

(p.84) 3. “I’m Michael Jackson, You Tito”
East Meets Black
Chong Chon-Smith
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter argues that the rise of martial arts genre has wide appeal for racialized communities and young audiences because it is the genre of the underdog. The martial arts film had its introduction in the Blaxploitation films and the cult hero of Bruce Lee and quickly became a staple of Saturday matinees in urban geographies. The genre that Lee catapulted into mainstream currency has recently been adapted to the standard buddy film format prevalent in Hollywood Westerns and 1980s action films. As a result, the coupling of a streetwise Black American buddy with hip-hop credentials and an ethical martial arts hero with humble bravado has served notice to mainstream audiences and cultural critics. As such, this chapter examines Asian-Black spectatorship as an oppositional gaze in martial arts buddy films. For this reason, films such as Rush Hour and Romeo Must Die produce Afro-Asian bonds and identification through critiques of white supremacy and neoliberal property relations.

Keywords:   Rush Hour, Romeo Must Die, Martial arts, Afro-Asian bonds, Oppositional gaze

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