TV Portrayal of Chinatown is Downright Criminal

November 21, 2009

The CBS plot synopsis reveals that the episode will feature lead detective Lilly Rush as she investigates a 1983 case of a slain youth, somehow mixed up in gangs and love, in Philadelphia's Chinatown.

Everything (predictably) gets more complicated when some sort of conspiracy or cover-up is unearthed, suspicious Chinese people don't trust the police, and so forth.

Sure, it could be worse (Without a Trace). Alright, at least some Asian actors and actresses, some of whom are not feigning an accent, are getting television exposure.

Doubtless, the tragedy of the Golden Dragon Massacre in San Francisco's Chinatown that made national headlines makes excellent screenwriting fodder. Add to that some foreign mystique, exotic beauties, the underworld of gang culture, maybe a youth struggling between becoming a model minority and a gangster, and you've got yet another formulaic, uninspired television episode.

Sigh. I would have expected better from Cold Case, which has tackled issues of sexual identity and race in the pasts, including a decent episode that featured a moving glimpse into the Japanese internment.

But judging by the episode trailer, we'll have to wait until Sunday to see just how much more Chinatown, Anywhere, USA, can be smeared by Hollywood stereotyping.

I can only hope for something different. My fingers are crossed, in accordance with an ancient, mysterious ritual of the fabled Western world.




Given the racial stuff Asian (including/ especially Southeast Asian) kids are facing in the school systems in Philly these days, lack of cultural insight in this setting is especially egregious. Is it wrong to act according to the lyrics of an old Alphaville fave: "Hoping for the best but expecting the worst- are they gonna drop the bomb or not?" Except maybe it should be "gong" instead of "bomb"...
Looks like the trailer is down.I saw what you did there with that last line though. nice.
Thanks for the comments.dex, I think that the trailers are only up the week prior to the episode--strangely, even on YouTube.There are some ripped versions out there if you search around: