Memoirs of a Geisha: If it isn’t one inauthenticity, it’s the other

Curzon pointed me toward Tom Barnett’s take on the new movie, citing it as evidence that Barnett “is a complete git.” Let’s quote:

Unfair to have Chinese playing Japanese? About as unbelievable as having Brits and Aussies play Americans? Or Americans playing English? Or Canadian Mike Myers playing Austin Powers?

Puh-leeze. Marshall went with these three ladies because they’re simply the biggest best stars available. Globalization, baby.

The hubbub over Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters is a bit misplaced, I think. It’s not directly comparable to Mike Myers playing Austin Powers: it’s closer to, say, Patrick Stewart playing Jean-Luc Picard. When it comes down to it, almost all of the visible differences between Han Chinese and Japanese are in language, mannerisms, and (often) dress. A well-coached Chinese person could play a Japanese person convincingly enough, but probably not with their default skill set. So Barnett’s take… not quite “git” in my book.

What bugs me more than the movie’s lack of racial purity is that the characters, who are supposed to be in old-school Kyoto, speak horribly-accented English for hours on end. And the Chinese actresses are speaking in Chinese accents… totally different from Japanese accents. I can’t foresee sitting through the whole movie without throwing things at the screen. Maybe it’ll be tolerable on mute.

On a related note, this is a snippet from a conversation I had with Adamu concerning the HBO series “Rome,” which, I should add, Curzon really likes.

[10:20] Adamu: does everyone have a british accent
[10:20] Joe: yup
[10:20] Adamu: good then its authentic

5 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Geisha: If it isn’t one inauthenticity, it’s the other”

  1. Barnett was of course too ignorant to consider that the people who are really pissed about this are the Chinese, not the Japanese.

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