본문 바로가기
  • Home

A Comedy Pleasing/Displeasing to the Audiences:The Politics of Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2013, 26(3), pp.161-190
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

jung mi kyung 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven is often blamed for its eccentricity and uneasiness and ‘horrible’ racial attitude. Based on the political correctness, most Asian American plays dealing with racial discrimination try to criticize the fake racial images of Asians and Asian Americans and instead depict their authentic race and ethnicity on stage. On the contrary, Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, written by a 2nd generation Korean American playwright, is full of the racial and the ethnic stereotypes prevailing in the U.S. popular culture. It also represents the Korean traditional culture as a oriental kitsch. Even though many critics allege this play is politically incorrect, I argue that this play maneuver racial politics in a different style, of which characteristic is aesthetic in nature. The racial and the ethnic stereotypes in this play should be considered to be the intentional theatrical tactics. In other words, the self-deprecating attitude and the body grotesque which the Korean American and the Korean characters represent on the stage can be characterized as the dissemblance. Using the funny racial stereotypes, Young Jean Lee makes the white audiences feel pleased, and at the same time, displeased. The audiences who pretend to be color blinds, at first, laugh but then cannot help recognizing their hypocrisy. This theatrical device has the very same meaning as what Hans Thies Lehmann calls the “Afformance theatre”, which succeeds in leading the audience into the ethical, political reality by way of amoral, asocial representations. Borrowing Lehmann’s term, I suggest that this ‘horrible’ racial play achieves not only the aesthetic success but at the same time the ethico-political success.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.