Skewed Villainy: The Problematic Image of the Eastern Antagonist (or, Dr. No Was a Monkey)

By Abraham Kawa.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 4, 2014 $US5.00

The Eastern villain, already a longtime stereotype of genre entertainment, has gradually been compromised by both real-life terrorism and a growing disbelief in its Manichaean simplicity. This paper explores the process of this evolution, as well as the sociopolitical reasons behind it. Using villains from the classic James Bond series, the Dark Knight Trilogy, the film “Star Trek into Darkness”, and the Iron Man triptych as case studies, the paper posits them as cultural manifestations of such theoretical tenets as the Other, the simulacrum, and the postmodernist pastiche. The decline of the stereotype is connected to the use of these tenets in the representation of the Eastern villain, as well as to the uncomfortable co-existence of the stereotype with real-life terrorism and the changing political views on it. These findings point to a shift in the Western world’s collective fantasies, not just of the East, but of itself: fantasy stereotypes, traditionally ineffectual when contrasted with their real-world analogues, are mitigated by introspective metaphor, which turns them into studies of contemporary Western values, or parody, which turns them into self-conscious jokes, further distancing them from whatever political relevance they might have had.

Keywords: Cinema, Interpretation, Propaganda

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 4, August 2014, pp.51-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 256.668KB)).

Dr. Abraham Kawa

Independent Researcher, Cultural Studies Theorist, and Author of Genre Fiction, ndependent Researcher, Cultural Studies Theorist, and Author of Genre Fiction, Volos, Greece