The Hamlet and representation

I thought it was interesting, and the narrator pointed this out, that while the nameless extras could be played by Vietnamese people, as they all scream “AIEYAAHHH!!!” (157) but for the Vietnamese characters within the movieĀ The Hamlet that “we could not represent ourselves; we must be represented, in this case by other Asians” (158). I thought this was an interesting parallel to the narrator, as he is a spy and therefore cannot represent his actual feelings, even in the course of the movie, and that people perceive him by the representations of others. It’s said that the Asian actors cast do not even look like who they are supposed to be portraying, and the excuse for acting is just that: an excuse. They would not hire the Vietnamese amateur actors and claimed the professional ones overacted, but the actors like Danny Boy were both amateurs and later commented as having overacted, so they could have easily chosen the Vietnamese actors instead but didn’t. The narrator signed up for the film because he wanted to add his voice but they wouldn’t let him, and denying these actors opportunities is another way in making sure their perspective is not heard.

1 Comment

  1. I agree that the narrator’s time working on the movie set was largely dominated by his preoccupations with representation and the ways in which it is inaccurate. I particularly found his beliefs regarding Hollywood to be interesting, as he mentions that the industry “owned the means of production, and therefore the means of representation” (179). To me, this particular passage reflected what Zunshine was saying regarding the intersection of socio-political context and “mind-reading”. As you said, the narrator is keenly aware of the ways in which the war and the Vietnamese people are being misrepresented, but he lacks the authority during this time-period to employ his own, more-accurate representation.

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