Lucy Liu defends Kill Bill from criticism for racist stereotypes

Nowadays, many analysts and critics of entertainment culture have their eye on characters who, over the years, have become iconic, but who somehow reproduce racist, misogynistic or other discriminatory stereotypes. In a recent article in Teen Vogue magazine, the writer India Roby Defined O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill: Revenge, Volume 1 – 85% as a contemporary Dragon Lady, a type of character that reproduces racist stereotypes of Asian culture.

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However, for Lucy Liu (The Trouble with Bliss – 29%, Kung Fu Panda 2 – 81%), actress who plays Ishii in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films (The 8 Most Hated – 75%, Django No Chains – 87%), her character is far from being a Dragon Lady and being rated that way has to do with her being of Asian descent (via IndieWire).

In this way, in her most recent opinion piece in The Washington Post (via IndieWire), the 52-year-old actress rejected the opinion of the Teen Vogue article titled “Hollywood played a role in the hypersexualization of Asian women” and made it clear that O-Ren Ishii is not a recent example of the harmful Asian stereotype of the Hollywood Dragon Lady.

In her Teen Vogue caption, Roby defined the Dragon Lady as ‘cunning and deceptive’ and a character who ‘uses her sexuality as a powerful manipulative tool, but is often emotionally, sexually cold, and threatens masculinity.’ Later, the journalist said that the character of Tarantino played by Liu is a contemporary example of Lady Dragon.

However, for Liu, qualifying her character this way makes no sense, as Tarantino filled much of the Kill Bill tapes with like-minded killers, only not being of Asian origin, they are not cataloged in this way.

Why not call Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, or Daryl Hannah a dragon lady? I can only conclude that it is because they are not Asian, I could have been wearing a tuxedo and blonde wig, but I would still have been labeled a dragon lady due to my ethnicity. If I can’t play certain roles because mainstream Americans still see me as Other, and I don’t want to be cast only in ‘typically Asian’ roles because they reinforce stereotypes, I start to feel the walls of the metaphorical box in which they are cast. AAPI women we are.

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The actress also highlighted that she feels lucky to have moved the needle for Asian and Asian American actresses in Hollywood, considering that some of her iconic characters such as Alex Munday from Charlie’s Angels – 67% helped to normalize Asian identity in film productions and television.

Hollywood often imagines a world more progressive than our reality; it’s one of the reasons Charlie’s Angels was so important to me. As part of something so iconic, my Alex Munday character normalized Asian identity for a mainstream audience and made an American piece a bit more inclusive.

Liu also pointed out that there is still much to do, adding that it is not easy to get rid of almost 200 years of reductive and patronizing images, since progress in advancing perceptions of race in the United States – and in the world – does not it is linear.

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