Flower Drum Song Identity

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In Flower Drum Song, Mei Li and Linda Low show the difference in Identity between orientalist culture and the younger generation pushing to fit in with the American culture. The Chinese American Identity can be explored through race, gender, and class as we explore the two characters and their different ways of living. Flower Drum Song, is a film that follows the lives of Chinese Americans living in San Francisco. Mei Li and her father illegally get to America by boat in order for a better opportunity and life. Mei Li is in search of a husband that can provide this ideal lifestyle and support. The film, along the way also follows the lives of Wang Chi-Yang and his son Wang Ta along with the rest of their family who provide initial stability…show more content…
Mei Li shows her traditional culture through a variety of ways. First, Mei Li’s appearance, She is always wearing traditional Chinese clothing that is not revealing and covers most of her body. Mei Li is always wearing long silk dresses which represents the idea of “cult of domesticity”. Along with this “cult of domesticity” idea is how Mei Li represents herself in front of male figure throughout the film. Mei Li is always respectful, soft-spoken, and obedient which makes her assimilation into the San Francisco community successful. This is best displayed through the scene in which Mei Li is introduced to Wang Chi-Yang and his family for the first time. Mei Li and her father, after brief introduction, play a traditional Chinese song for the family in gratitude for providing hospitality. She instantly impresses Wang Chi-Yang, an orientalist himself, as Wang realizes that this is the right women for his son. Mei Li doesn't have many options because she is a poor, Chinese illegal immigrant woman, that is in search of a man in order to survive in the United States. This notion of the “cult of domesticity” is underlined by four main principals: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness. Throughout the film we witness all four forms as they are portrayed by Mei Li to enhance her orientalist beliefs. First, piety we see Mei Lei use her musical…show more content…
Linda works in a San Francisco nightclub as a singer and dancer for Sammy who owns the club. Linda's appearance, unlike Mei Li, is very revealing as she wheres short skirts and revealing close in order to attract boys and fit the club performer mentality. While performing Linda Low dances around the stage and sings very provocatively catching the attention of all who have come to watch her perform. Sammy, because of Linda’s talent in beauty spoils her and buys he cars, clothes, and anything to make her happy. Linda enjoys all the attention from boys like Wang Ta and Sammy as they shower her with gifts and make her feel special. This is vividly expressed in the scene where Linda Low sings “ I enjoy being a girl”, in front of the mirror. Linda through this scene expresses the perks of being a girl through dressing pretty, a curvy body, walking provocatively, and being called cute and pretty. These ideas that make Linda Low so happy to be a girl are the opposite of what Mei Li represents herself through. Linda cares about her sexual appearance and the glamour of living a lavish lifestyle filled with being spoiled and catered to by men. Linda represents a women who is the opposite of the “cult of domesticity” through her many needs and wants as a women. Orientalist like Mei Li and Wang Chi-Yang have a much different outlook as they have been raised with the belief

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