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Reframing Masculinity through Independent Cinema: Portrayals of Asian American Masculinity in Spa Night, The Tiger Hunter, and Gook


This paper examines how the films Spa Night (2016), The Tiger Hunter (2016), and Gook (2017) showcase a burgeoning diversity of ways Asian Americans can express masculinity. More specifically, the paper will delve into the depictions of strength through marginalized masculinity in Spa Night, resistance against remasculinization narratives in The Tiger Hunter, and toughness through soft masculinity in Gook. The aforementioned films are placed in analytical conversation with academic theories within the disciplines of Asian American Studies, Gender Studies, and Film Studies to highlight how each film’s respective characters demonstrate the described forms of progressive masculinity. In doing so, the films expose how cinema has historically shaped the public’s understanding of Asian American masculinity and uncover how a recent group of independent films from the Asian American film movement has showcased the variety of ways in which masculinity can be conceptualized and represented by Asian Americans to challenge traditional conceptions of gender.

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