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Homosexuality and the Generational Conflicts of Chinese Americans in The Wedding Banquet and Saving Face

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2016, 29(2), pp.133-154
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Hyung Shik Lee 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine the generational conflicts of Chinese Americans by analyzing the films by two Chinese American directors. The Wedding Banquet and Saving Face share some similarities in that they both depict the homosexual heroes and heroines who are in conflict with their parents. The conflicts arise mainly out of different attitudes of younger generations towards marriage and family. In The Wedding Banquet, Wei-Tung is a well-adjusted Chinese American who speaks perfect English and is satisfied with his life style as a homosexual. With the unexpected visit of his parents who want to see their son happily married and settled, he and his lover Simon concoct a false marriage with Weiwei, an illegal immigrant who is a poor artist. A rowdy party after the wedding banquet results in Weiwei’s pregnancy, thus endangering their plan. Even after his coming out as a homosexual, his mother believes that his son will return to normality after a son is born. The conflict of the film is resolved through the acceptance of homosexuality by his parents whose traditional values can wink at the abnormality of relationship as long as a son is born who will ascertain the continuation of family lineage. In Saving Face, which was directed by a female director Alice Wu, it is the lesbian relationship between Wil and Vivian which is in conflict with the traditional values. Both Wil and Vivian are established professionals who are well-adjusted to American society. However, what interferes with Wil’s relationship is her mother, who comes to live with her after it was discovered that she is pregnant with a baby, the identity of whose father she cannot reveal. Ma is both a victim of traditional social system at the same as she is a victimizer who pressures Wil to follow traditional custom and get married. Following the formula of a romantic comedy, Wil and Vivian miraculously get together again and reconcile after being separated because of pressures from outside. In this case again, it is the grandfather who finally accepts Ma’s relationship with a younger man which resolves the generational conflicts into a happy ending.

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