A Brief Analysis on the Film King of Masks

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The film King of Masks deals with and challenges the feudal idea that men are superior to women; this ideology, as the film portrays, results in alienation, tragedy and bitterness for girls in Chinese society and particularly the protagonist Doggie. In contrast, out of darkness, corruption, and poverty, the goodness of humanity and the human love sprung up from the master-apprentice relationship between Wang and Doggie will ultimately reign over narrow and backward traditional notions. Evidence that everyone desires a boy can be found throughout the film. In fact, preference for boys over girls is not just a fad but rather deep-rooted in Chinese society. Feudal ideas that men superior to women is embedded and prevails in Chinese culture as early as the end of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) during which Confucian teachings advocates and fosters gender inequality (Jiang 229). Under influence of Confucianism, women are given low status and expected to be obedient to husband. This produces a sequence of expectations for men and women: men are expected to work outside and support family living while women only stays home and take care of family and household. This is also the reality in King of Masks, in which almost every man has a job: Wang is a street performer; Master Liang is an opera performer; Wang’s friend is a liquor dealer. However, the occupation of women is not clearly revealed. Notable examples are the crowds of women joining the parade and women from TianCi’s family whose main role is taking care of the child. It is worth noting that Master Liang plays as a female impersonator. Despite its name, a female impersonator is played by a male in traditional Chinese opera because women are believed to corrupt men on stage and thus banned from performing (Johnson 380). The storyline of the film is triggered by Wang’s quest for a male heir to pass on his secret ancestral art of BianLian or its literally meaning of changing faces. In Wang’s...
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