Bruce Lee's message to the world today | Racism | COVID-19
Some of you might be wondering why Bruce Lee has been trending since yesterday. No, it's not his birthday or Remembrance Day. ESPN just aired a documentary on Bruce Lee just when Asia sees a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and a national reckoning with racism in America. Directed by Bao Nguyen, Be Water follows Lee’s story via the voices of those who knew him, as well as film critics. The documentary featured passages from Bruce’s diaries are read by his daughter, Shannon Lee. Bruce wanted to become an Asian leading man at a time when pretty much all stars in Hollywood were white, he loved the camera, and it loved him back but he still found himself running up against the racism of the film industry and the society at large. He refused to take roles that he considered demeaning to Asians.
One inch punch pic.twitter.com/ZWwXwdJ6Wd— Roscoebiscoe (@Roscoebiscoe1) June 8, 2020
Actor and rapper Ice Cube felt “Hollywood should’ve made more with Bruce Lee. They wasted years of his talent. A lot of bullshit movies were made while he was active. Kareem always the man. MARVEL is cool. But give me Bruce Lee. Real-life superhero.”
In an after-show interview on ESPN, director Be Water’s director Bao Nguyen spoke on Bruce Lee’s message for the world today. “I came in a later generation, I was born 10 years after Enter the Dragon came out, so I wasn’t going to see his movies on movie theatres. I used to watch his movies on Saturday night television, at the time I didn’t know who he was but I just remember as a little kid, I thought that I saw a hero that looked like me with all his energy and on-screen charisma. I just wanted to dig deeper on how Bruce turned into Bruce Lee, and that’s why I wanted to make this film.
A lot of issues discussed in the film are relevant today, not just about what’s going on with George Floyd’s issue but also with COVID-19. Our interaction with society is through the television and films that we watch from home. That’s why how we see our self on those images, on those screens are really very important because they are authentic, they represent a multi-cultural community like Asian Americans. If you kind of watch the news and to walk outside, as an Asian American, I am kind of scared sometimes. When COVID-19 was really bad, people who just start harassing me, it just creates a division based on where you came from. I think about Bruce and everyone who was around him, his first student was an African American and he learnt Martial Arts because he was a victim of Police Brutality. I think those type of experiences forms who Bruce Lee would become as a person. He would meet people based on who they were instead of what they look like and where they came from.”
Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon took to her Twitter space to share a few words after the show - “Thank you to all who watched ‘Be Water’ (if you missed it, it will be airing again). Thank you @baomnguyen- beautifully done and @30for30 @espn. ‘Be Water, My Friends’ - Bruce Lee”
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