ZiYi Zhang and Geisha Girl

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Seems to be some nationalism growing in China, where the Japanese are still hated for their recent imperialist past, among other reasons.

China outraged over `Geisha'
With tensions from WW II atrocities flaring anew, nation calls casting of Beijing actress as Japanese geisha an insult

With Beijing's young homegrown star Ziyi Zhang appearing this month in the heavily promoted “Memoirs of a Geisha,” it might seem to be cause for China to celebrate.

On the contrary, many Chinese film fans are denouncing Zhang for accepting a risque Japanese role and blasting American filmmakers at a time of rising tension between Asia's dominant powers. The criticism reflects a volatile strain of nationalism growing in China, which has fueled bursts of anti-Japan riots and increasingly worries Asian neighbors.

“She is the most shameless Chinese woman in the world. I wonder whether she ever thought about the pain brought by the Sino-Japanese war,” wrote one of the gentlest critics on a Web forum crackling with attacks.

Even before the DVD has hit Beijing streets--pirated films sometimes arrive within 72 hours after their American premiere--online critics are attacking Zhang for appearing in love scenes with Japanese actor Ken Watanabe and for accepting such a controversial role at the behest of American filmmakers. The flap bubbled over from nationalist Web sites into mainstream forums, where angry patriots called Zhang a moral disgrace and “traitor to the Han people,” mainland China's dominant ethnicity, for her turn as Sayuri, the main character.

ZiYi Zhang
ZiYi Zhang
Based on this movie (2046), I've become a fan of Ms. Zhang.

“Memoirs of a Geisha” (Rob Marshall)
though, haven't read much about this movie. Probably wouldn't see it in a theatre, but it looks interesting enough so that I have already added it to my Netflix list.

and this is apparently not a matter to be taken lightly:

Zhang is not the first Chinese performer to run into the Japan problem. In 2001, actress-singer Zhao Wei posed in a New York fashion shoot in a dress emblazoned with a large Japanese military flag. After the image appeared in Chinese newspapers, furious patriots lobbed bottles and bricks at Zhao's house, and one patriot assaulted her on stage during a New Year's Eve show, knocking her to the ground.

Memoirs of a Geisha

(removed image due to bandwidth theft)

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1 Comment

Zhang's performance in 2046 was much deeper than anything she'd done before--and sexier! The director Zhang Yimou (her lover) is my all-time favorite, and his former lover Gong Li is my favorite actress.

I'll see the film after I read the book. I've owned it for more than 5 years and haven't gotten there yet.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 16, 2005 8:07 AM.

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