I am addicted to dvds. If dvds were heroin, I would have needle tracks up and down each arm, under my tongue, and wherever the hell else junkies shoot up. Friends and family would be coming up to me saying, “Chris, we think you have a problem.”
“Leave me alone!” I would growl back as I tightened the rubber hose around my arm. “I can quit anytime I want!”
It isn’t so much the movies on dvd that have me hooked, but the old television shows they are re-releasing. I think it all started with the cable tv shows such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City which would release the previous season on dvd or vhs and created a new market. This was especially advantageous because a lot of people who didn’t have HBO missed these shows when they were being broadcast but still wanted to see them. Somewhere, a light went off in someone’s head and they realized that with dvds being small and fairly cheap to produce, why not release old tv shows onto them. Bam, even half of Edison’s ideas weren’t this brilliant (Besides the electric light and the phonograph. Oh and the stock ticker was pretty cool. I guess the motion picture camera was fairly important and also pertinent to dvds. Ok ok, bad example.)
You can now go into a store and get the entire first season of almost any show that was on tv. (There are a few that I can’t find yet but they are on their way) Being a child of the 80s, I have been collecting shows ranging from Miami Vice (The show that epitomizes the 1980s unlike no other) to Macgyver. Macgyver would be the perfect example of a show I probably would have been better off remembering without actually seeing again. The production quality is bad, the acting from the extras is cheesy and the things he makes with his swiss army knife are completely unrealistic to people past the age of eight. I understand the concept of suspension of disbelief but using a chair and a coathanger to bust through a wall is more like expulsion of reality. I also don’t quite understand why Macgyver hates guns but has no problem creating a bomb with cow manure. What, explosives aren’t as deadly?
The most unrealistic tv series that I bought is Kung Fu. I have seen a few shows in reruns but it originally aired in 1972, a few years before I was born. If you don’t know the premise, it is about a half chinese, half white Shaolin Monk who is wanted in China for murder but is making his way through the American West in the 1880s searching for his half brother. In a stunning move for the time, the network cast an asian to play the lead role which would have been extremely progressive for the early 70s except when I say asian, I mean caucasian. That’s right, in a show that deals with how racist people were in the late 19th century, the network booted show co-creator Bruce Lee who didn’t really fit the part as a Chinese Shaolin Monk in favor for David Carradine. WTF? What is even more confusing is that during the show, people know as soon as they lay eyes on him that his character is chinese even though to us watching he looks as white as, well, David Carradine. Besides this rather HUGE discrepancy, I have to admit that I like the show. The philosophy behind it holds up even though the action scenes are a bit dated. Carradine is good in it even if his interpretation of an asian accent is to speak veeeeerrrrrryyyyy sloooooowwwwwwlllllyyyyyy. Bruce Lee wouldn’t have been able to do a better job because as everyone knows, his career didn’t seem to go ANYWHERE after that.
That was thirty years ago and times have changed. Hollywood is a much more diverse place. Right? I am not too sure. Off the top of my head, I can name only one Asian American actor who could be considered a household name. And he hasn’t done anything since The Karate Kid. (Pat Morita). I asked a few friends if they could name any Asian American actors other than naming a few actresses (Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh) they couldn’t name any actors other than Chow Yun Fat or Jackie Chan. But they are Chinese actors who have managed to make the jump to American movies. Surely there has to be a few contemporary Asian American actors out there and I just can’t think of them off the top of my head. Either that or perhaps we haven’t come along as far as we would like to think.