Have you guys seen this? Recently, Dr. Pepper launched this new type of drink called “Dr. Pepper 10” and it’s apparently “not for women.” This actually made me pretty angry. The soda is packaged with a wrapping with pictures of bullets instead of the usual bubbles. They emphasize that it’s made with real sugar and not the stuff in the diet drink. All the while Diet Dr. Pepper marketing is “women-friendly.” I just thought that this was related to M. Butterfly because of the gender roles that are applied. The men are supposed to be strong and mighty and able to intake all the real sugar and other ingredients. While the women can’t do that because they have to stay small and dainty and drink diet sodas. In M. Butterfly, the gender role of having a man be the powerful one also exists. What do you guys think of this ad? I suggest also watching the commercial, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iuG1OpnHP8
We touched upon the grouping the occurs in M. Butterfly in previous classes, such as grouping all Asians and stating that they are all demure and weak, particularly the Chinese and Japanese since Song is Chinese and portrays Butterfly, a Japanese character. Something I did notice was that the entire Asian population is grouped together, but the Chinese language, in particular, was grouped as well. In China, several dialects exist. We see Song speak in Mandarin in Act 1, Scene 10, through the written pronunciation, “Kwai-lah,” which means “fast.” However, later in scene directions and through Gallimard we see the pronunciation, “chong-sam,” which is the Cantonese pronunciation of the traditional Chinese gown. By having Gallimard say it makes it seem that he is not throughly educated about Chinese language and culture. I find this funny because in Act 1, Scene 8, Song says, “Well, education has always been undervalued in the West, hasn’t it?” Do you guys think that this is grouping? What other examples of grouping did you see in M. Butterfly?
Throughout M. Butterfly, we see Gallimard wonder in and out of his fantasies and also confuse his fantasy with reality. For example, we see Gallimard in his fantasy world by calling Song “Butterfly” and viewing her as a stereotypical submissive Asian woman. Although, as the audience, we are aware of the line between reality and Gallimard’s fantasy in the play, sometimes the line is blurred. For example, in Act 3, Scene 2, Gallimard only says, “I am transported,” to notify the audience that this is his fantasy. And in the movie, under the same name, this scene happens in reality. I think by bringing the audience along into the fantasy is another element of “breaking the fourth wall.” By confusing the audience, it allows the viewers to confuse fantasy with reality, just as Gallimard does. What do you guys think about the effect of this confusion?
Today in class we were discussing what the themes in class are for this year. In our class syllabus, there is a list of themes for this year separated by quarter!
- Women and Friendship
- Travel Narration and Colonialism
Looking back on the year, none of these themes seem to stay in their allotted quarter. We see exile in Things Fall Apart as Okonkwo is sent out to the motherland for seven year. Duality is revealed in Emma as she must make sense of imaginary relationships and reality and is the Tempest as Prospero understands his power with or without magic. Where else do we see these 4 themes break from their assigned quarter?
Right before killing himself on page 92 and 93 Act 3, Scene 3, Gallimard says, “Death with honor is better than life… life with dishonor. (He sets himself center stages, in a seppuku position) The love of a Butterfly can withstand many things–unfaithfulness, loss, even abandonment. But how can it face the one sin that implies all others? The devastating knowledge that, underneath it all, the object of her love was nothing more, nothing less than…a man.”
While this quote does most directly depict Gallimard’s transformation into Butterfly but killing himself due to, for simplicity’s sake, abandonment just as Butterfly in Madame Butterfly ends up doing, I think more than that he kills himself out of complete humiliation and loss. Rather than being so noble and living out his fantasy by killing himself, I feel like the shock of realizing his fantasy was nothing more than a fantasy instead of the reality he thought it was also drives him to kill himself. I also think we see a lot of shame from him when he says that death with honor is better than life with dishonor. He sees Song as having made a fool of out him. Today in class we discussed a lot about the idea of this moment being one of power for Gallimard because he gets to live out his fantasy and escape reality but I want to also consider the idea of this scene being one of Gallimard’s weakness. Throughout the book the woman is portrayed as being weak and submissive and in this scene I think Gallimard can be interpreted as submitting to his loss and humiliation through death as an escape. Do you guys think Gallimard’s speech before his suicide represents his strength or weakness?
So today in class I mentioned a video game called rapelay (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-30/world/japan.video.game.rape_1_game-teenage-girl-japanese-government?_s=PM:WORLD) And everyone was shocked and a bit appalled, but this video game is some interesting commentary on a mentality, the rape mentality, that is very prominent in M. Butterfly.
Over and over we see the West is greater then the East. We also see that Gallimard wants to be dominant over song due to his lack of dominance in other situations. In our society today we as Americans love to be the dominant one we scream “We are Number 1” and we feel that every other country needs our help and needs us to control them. In sports matched we root for our favorite teams to be dominant over the other. This video game is atrocious, but it also brings up the point of how we as humans like to feel superior to others in some way.
What do video games like this do for our society? Even when the mentality of dominance is already there.
InM. Butterfly, Rene Gallimard has an affair with a forward, western woman also named Renee. Her sexual habits are so modern that she instantly takes control of their relationship, immasculating him with her aggressive sexual conquests. After they have fooled around, she tells Rene that he has “a nice weenie”. Is it a compliment? Rene certaintly doesn’t think so. In class, people brought up the idea that the reason these two characters share the same name is to blur the lines between typical gender roles. While I do agree with this I also think that David Hwang chose these two names to show the reader that Renee is actually Rene’s worst fears speaking through the thing that he aims to control, a woman. Throughout the play, Rene attempts to control Song by not responding to her letters, leaving her alone for weeks at a time in order to assert his manly dominance over her; when he meets Renee he is instantly immasuculated and she is is the physical representation of his deepest and darkest fear.
I stopped going to the opera, I didn’t phone or write her. I knew this little flower was waiting for me to call, and, as I wickedly refused to do so, I felt for the first time that rush of power—the absolute power of a man. (M. Butterfly, 32)
As we have started to discover the themes of M. Butterfly, power, and the contrasting difference between the east and west. In this seen Gallimard is describing his first experience feeling power as a man. Although he feels this power over Song, the Chinese opera singer he is starting an affair with, he is also abusing her; shown when he describes his actions as wicked. He also refers to Song as a flower, portraying her as a delicate, breakable thing. This role he has given her not only makes her inferior to him, but also categorizes her into the “oriental girl,” or eastern native girl. By demonstrating his power as a strength and comparing it to the delicacy of Song as a flower, the theme of East vs. West is also brought up. The “absolute power of a man,” representing himself and the west creates a huge contrast to the “little flower,” representing Song and the East. This huge contrast illustrates the divide shown throughout the book of the Eastern and Western lifestyles.