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Beyond Bruce LeeChasing the Dragon Through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture$
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Paul Bowman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165297

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165297.001.0001

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Bruce Lee Between Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

Bruce Lee Between Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

(p.42) Chapter Two Bruce Lee Between Popular Culture and Cultural Politics
Beyond Bruce Lee

Paul Bowman

Columbia University Press

This chapter assesses the discourses on Bruce Lee found in fields concerned with cultural politics, such as cultural studies, media studies, film studies, and ethnic identity studies. In these fields, Bruce Lee ought to be regarded as culturally-politically significant, particularly in terms of his contributions to Asian-American identity politics, diasporic Chinese cultural identity, the deconstruction of white Eurocentric hegemony in Hollywood film and notions of masculinity, his kinetic, symbolic and affective associations with civil rights movements and decolonization struggles, and so on. The chapter clarifies the ways in which all of these assessments of Lee's contribution, intervention, or significance imply one or another relation between culture, media, and politics, with film playing a constitutive articulating role. It indicates the extent to which many such studies of Lee's significance for cultural politics offer celebratory narratives which are slightly problematic in being utopian. It also draws on a Slavoj Žižek's argument about the “strange exchange” between “Asia and Europe”—an exchange which is exemplified in the case of Bruce Lee. It explores the Žižekian critique of the kinds of protests, aims, objects, and achievements implied by those who champion Bruce Lee.

Keywords:   Bruce Lee, actors, martial arts films, artists, Slavoj Žižek, cultural politics

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