Don Lee and Labels
What connections can be made between stereotypes and selling out? I read Don Lee’s short story “Reenactments” yesterday, and it has me thinking about the ramifications of being labeled a stereotype and how that label can lead to accusations and/or feelings of selling out.
The protagonist of Lee’s story is Alan Kwan, an aging Hollywood actor known for primarily for his action roles. He has landed the largest role of his career in a standard action shoot ‘em up movie that has sequel potential which would secure a recurring role and guaranteed work. Unfortunately the script plays to several stereotypes including Alan’s role as an Asian hit man. This is not he first time Alan has dealt with stereotypes during his career. He changed his name to Alan Kwan from Alain Kweon years ago to improve job prospects.
What distinguishes Alan’s current situation from previous experiences with stereotypes is that now fellow actors and crew expect Alan to respond to the stereotypes. Alan’s dilemma is whether to call out the stereotypes he and others have been labeled at the risk of losing future work or to remain quiet. Lee’s protagonist must grapple with not only how others will view him but also how he will view himself.
If you are looking for a short piece of fiction that addresses stereotypes and the personal ramifications that may accompany selling out then Don Lee’s “Reenactments” is worth a read.
“Reenactments” by Don Lee. One Story Issue #275