Yellow Danger Is a Metaphor for the Xenophobic Theory of Colonialism

“The Yellow Peril is a racist color-metaphor that is integral to the xenophobic theory of colonialism: that the peoples of East Asia are a danger to the Western world.” (Wikipedia). Yellow peril created fear of yellow-skinned people among Westerns, or whites, for historical reasons at the first place. They saw Asian as uncivilized, barbarous, treacherous, unruly, and unteachable. The Yellow Peril is a racist theory formed in the 19th century. The theory advocates that the yellow race is a threat to white people, and those white people should unite to deal with the yellow race.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the yellow peril was very rampant, and the spearhead was aimed at countries such as China and Japan. After years of development and precipitation, the stereotype has entered the subconscious of mainstream American society, which appears in many artworks, songs and film and television works. As a famous movie, “Kill Bill” is loved by many Americans, and the movie is also influenced by the yellow peril.

The movie “Kill Bill” is divided into two parts. The first part released on October 10, 2003 and the second part released on April 8, 2004. The director is Quentin Tarantino and the producer is Lawrence Bender. A former assassin, known simply as the bride, was assassinated by her ex-lover Bill at her wedding day. Fortunately, the bride did not die, but she was shot in the head and woke up four years later. She experienced a variety of high-intensity martial arts training for revenge, and then she began a revenge plan to find people around the world who have brought disasters.

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Of course, she also encountered many obstacles in the process of revenge. Both Chinese and Japanese are included in the yellow peril, however, Chinese and Japanese have different images in American movies for historical reasons.

Due to the political stance, the image of Asians, whose ethnic group is relatively vague, was gradually clarified in the early American films, while the images of Japanese and Chinese were separated in the film kill bill. The image of the Japanese in the movie, Hattori Hanzo, is very enthusiastic and kindly. When the bride first came to his sushi restaurant, he used English to care about what the bride was doing in Japan and chat with her. When the bride asked Hanzo to cast a samurai sword and told him that the samurai sword was used to kill his former apprentice Bill, Hanzo had a distressed look, but still agreed to the bride’s request. This shows that he does not agree with the things Bill did, and therefore he is willing to break the oath that he no longer casts a samurai sword. These use a positive image to describe the Japanese, and at the end of the handover of the samurai sword, the grand and ceremonial feeling is very strong.

Someone said:the racist ideology of the Yellow Peril is a ‘core imagery of apes, lesser men, primitives, children, madmen, and beings who possessed special powers’. The image of another Chinese Pai Mei, he was as the saying goes, a stubborn, conservative and demanding man. When Bill first started sending the bride to study the kung fu, he told the bride that she must listen to Pai Mei and not be against him. And tell the bride that Pai Mei is a very powerful character, he is skilled in martial arts and no one can beat him, even Bill has some fear of him. Pai Mei was very self-righteous and spoke badly. As soon as Pai Mei appears in the movie, he mocks the bride for her poor Chinese and sounds harsh, like a donkey. Also, he said to the bride that she should not speak when he did not ask her to. If the bride doesn’t understand he will treat her like a dog.

Pai Mei hates the Japanese so much that he thinks they are stupid. The image of Pai Mei is very old-fashioned. This is like the Americans seeing the Japanese. Because the political ideology is the same, the two countries have been working closely for many years. The Americans have already understood the Japanese and have a good impression of the Japanese. The Chinese are still mysterious, old, stubborn, and self-righteous in the eyes of most Americans. This is in line with the image of the Pai Mei. Americans may not be 100% resistant to China or Asians, but the setting of the film plot makes people feel hostile and ridiculous towards China. For example, they are interested in Chinese kung fu but they are afraid of it. In revenge, the way the bride escaped from the coffin after being buried alive, until the final killing of Bill, she used Chinese Kung Fu. It is probably that Americans can only think of Chinese traditional Kung Fu when they mention China.

In conclusion, Yellow peril still exists in the American consciousness at the beginning of the 21st century. Perhaps it is because the director’s character, expression technique, and story content have blurred the true feelings of yellow peril in dealing with Chinese. But such consciousness does exist. At least in this movie, such a different image of China and Japan makes it difficult to say that the director just borrowed a nation to tell a story without the emotion left by yellow peril.

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Yellow Danger Is a Metaphor for the Xenophobic Theory of Colonialism. (2022, Apr 25). Retrieved from

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