Orientalism in U.S. cyberpunk cinema from Blade runner to the Matrix

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Park, Chi Hyun

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This dissertation looks at the role of “oriental” imagery in Hollywood through case studies of two Hollywood cyberpunk films: Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and The Matrix (Larry and Andy Wachowski, 1999). Drawing from scholarship in Asian American Studies, Film and Media Studies, Postcolonial Theory, and Cultural Studies, my work explores why the futuristic mise-en-scène of such films looks and feels so uncannily “oriental.” It considers the relationship between these East Asian-inflected settings and changing attitudes about East Asians and Asian Americans in the U. S. from the 1980s to the present. Furthermore, it situates that relationship within larger shifts in national discourses around “race” during this time period. My analyses of these films are grounded in their industrial and historical contexts: economic and aesthetic developments in Hollywood since the 1980s, the rapid growth of the Asian American community during the same period, and the recent internationalization of East Asian popular culture, particularly Hong Kong cinema and Japanese animation.