Director Quentin Tarantino has been busy promoting his new Once Upon a Time in Hollywood novel, which has stirred up an old controversy from when the film was first released in 2019. Tarantino was accused of reducing legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee, to a racist caricature. When the movie was initially released, Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, said Tarantino should shut up or apologize for the way he portrayed her father. During a recent interview with The Joe Rogan Experience, Tarantino was asked about the criticism and he replied, "I can understand his daughter having a problem with it. It's her f*cking father ... Everybody else: go suck a d*ck." In response to Tarantino's latest comments, Shannon Lee wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter titled, "Does Quentin Tarantino Hate Bruce Lee? Or Does It Just Help Sell Books?"
"You can imagine by now that I am used to people only seeing one facet of my father and blowing that up into a caricature. That has been happening since shortly after he passed. But usually, somewhere in that caricature is some sort of nugget of love for the man and his work. Not so with Mr. Tarantino," Lee writes.
She added, "As you already know, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Mr. Tarantino, in my opinion, was inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least. (Please let's not blame actor Mike Moh. He did what he could with what he was given.) And while I am grateful that Mr. Tarantino has so generously acknowledged to Joe Rogan that I may have my feelings about his portrayal of my father, I am also grateful for the opportunity to express this: I'm really f*cking tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was."
"I'm tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an asshole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and '70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color," Lee continues. "I'm tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion, and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and his contributions. I'm tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them."
"At a time when Asian Americans are being physically attacked, told to 'go home' because they are seen as not American, and demonized for something that has nothing to do with them, I feel moved to suggest that Mr. Tarantino's continued attacks, mischaracterizations and misrepresentations of a trailblazing and innovative member of our Asian American community, right now, are not welcome," Lee added. "Mr. Tarantino, you don't have to like Bruce Lee. I really don't care if you like him or not. You made your movie and now, clearly, you're promoting a book. But in the interest of respecting other cultures and experiences you may not understand, I would encourage you to take a pass on commenting further about Bruce Lee and reconsider the impact of your words in a world that doesn't need more conflict and fewer cultural heroes." You can read Lee's full column here.
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