Friday, April 18, 2008

a Renaissance woman she is not?

Beautiful actress Maggie Q will appear in "Deception," a new film starring Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Williams. I like to avoid spoilers, so I didn't read too much on what her role is, but it sounds like she will be playing a high-priced call girl.

Maggie's career has come a long way since she started in Hong Kong, speaking broken Cantonese et al. My earliest memories of her was when she appeared in a karaoke music video for the HK boy band Grasshoppers 草蜢 (how I wish I could locate that video for you!). Doing the math, she was probably 16 or 17 at the time, and the only reason I remember her in the video was because 1) her features were less refined then, so she actually looked very strange to me, but also 2) her exotic looks stood out in a cast of standard Chinese performers.

She obviously grew into her looks and her star has steadily risen, but now I feel like all she's ever been is the tough sexpot. Her recent arrival into Hollywood has her either vamping it up in a sexy red dress in "Mission Impossible III" or performing unbelievable martial arts in "Live Free or Die Hard." Hello, do you smell STEREOTYPE a mile away? When can she really become a first-tier actress? Can any Asian actress break through that barrier without having to stoop to obvious levels?

In "Deception," she isn't listed anywhere on the movie's poster or official site, but all press photos of her show her in lacy lingerie.

A long time ago, I did a history paper in college about the pitfalls of Asian women portrayed on-screen as either a venomous, manipulative dragon lady a la Lucy Liu (see examples in "Ally McBeal," "Charlie's Angels," or "Kill Bill" to name a few), or subservient, soft, and submissive. This trend of two divergent female types started in the 1920's starting with Anna May Wong. It's been nearly a decade since I made that observation of hope that Asian actresses would play just people in America, not polarizing symbols of sexual fantasies, but I'm sad to say that this stance doesn't seem to have changed much.

Obviously, I have not seen this movie yet, so I shouldn't jump the gun, but really, doesn't her body of work speak for itself? Is it her fault that better roles aren't up for consideration, or is Hollywood still stuck in the times? Should I just be excited for her that she's in ANY Hollywood movie?

Deception - opening April 25, 2008

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