Chapter

The Monk Goes Hollywood

Jane Naomi Iwamura

in Virtual Orientalism

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738601
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894604 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738601.003.0004
The Monk Goes Hollywood

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter looks at the figure of Kwai Chang Caine and his Shaolin monk teachers in the popular 1970s TV series, Kung Fu. At this moment, a fictional Monk takes his place alongside representations of historical figures, making the hyperreal effect discussed in previous chapters complete. Kung Fu also marks the rise of a new generation into cultural power, whose attempts to selectively wed their parents’ ideals with their own counter-cultural values are clearly seen in America’s first “Eastern Western.” The racial politics of the show are specifically discussed, from the casting of David Carradine as the “half-Chinese, half-American” fugitive priest to the storylines that often feature minority characters. The way in which racial minorities are scripted into each episode reveals a potent commentary on contemporary race relations in the early 1970s. Ultimately, the show individualizes the politics of race and ideally configures a spiritual approach to social oppression.

Keywords: Kung Fu; David Carradine; television; the Western; Shaolin; counterculture; hegemony; gender; China; race relations

Chapter.  18483 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.