William Arenholz Performing as "Foo Ling Yu"
William Arenholz扮演“Foo Ling Yu”

08 October 2019
William Arenholz performing as “Foo Ling Yu,” at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, Courtesy of Elizabeth Ng, Museum of
Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection
William Arenholz在Barbizon Plaza扮演“Foo Ling Yu”,Elizabeth Ng捐赠,美国华人博物馆(MOCA)馆藏

William Arenholz, a New York telephone company executive, moonlighted as “Foo Ling Yu,” a sort of Oriental mystic. Donning a Chinese costume and mask made by his wife, Arenholz would performed his pantomime act in magic shows such as at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel in New York. Around 1948, Arenholz and several other magician founded a group known as the Long Island Mystics to exchange tricks and ideas. In the magic community, he is well regarded, especially for his improvements on the snake basket routine. Outside of that context, Arenholz’ yellow face act was little more than a dehumanizing appropriation of Chinese culture for the sake of profitability. Arenholz supposedly created the act as a pantomime due to his damaged hearing, but his choice to channel this performance style through a stereotypically demure, inscrutable Chinese character was dangerous and avoidable. Stereotypes such as the one Arenholz propagated during the era of Chinese exclusion were used to justify the exclusion of Chinese immigrants and racism towards Chinese Americans. In the context of today’s popular culture, the revival of the historical yellow face – white washing – continues to erase complex portrayals of Asian and Asian American characters and limit opportunities for ethnically Asian entertainers.

William Arenholz,一位纽约电话公司的高管,在夜间秘密扮演“Foo Ling Yu”,一个东方的神秘魔术师。Arenholz穿上妻子做的中国服装,戴上妻子做的面具,在魔术剧场中表演他的哑剧,比如在纽约的巴比松广场酒店(Barbizon Plaza Hotel)。1948年前后,Arenholz和其他几位魔术师成立了一个名为长岛神秘者(Long Island Mystics)的团体,用来交流魔术技巧和想法。在魔术界,他很受尊敬,尤其是他对“蛇篮(snake basket)”套路的改良。除此之外,Arenholz的黄色面孔装扮只不过是为了盈利而对中国文化的非人性化利用。据推测,Arenholz是由于听力受损而创造了这出哑剧形式的表演,但他选择将这种表演风格通过一种刻板、严肃、高深莫测的中国形象来演绎,这是危险的,也是可以避免的。在排华时期像Arenholz传播的这种刻板印象,被用来证明对中国移民的排斥和对在美华人的种族歧视。在当今流行文化的背景下,历史上的黄脸——取悦白人观众——的复兴,继续消弱对亚裔和亚裔美国人复杂个性的刻画,限制了亚裔艺人的机会。

Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

2019年是美国第一条横贯大陆铁路建成150周年,为了纪念第一批华人来美建设这条铁路所做出的巨大贡献, MOCA将其2019 TCS NYC Marathon的活动命名为 MOCA Spike 150 – Running Forward With Our Stories! 鼓励大家通过马拉松公益跑,全国线上接力,以及一天一个故事的方式讲述150个华人的历史故事,敬请大家持续关注, 讲出华人自己的故事,回顾过去,立足现在,展望未来,共同书写美国历史,使之更加充实完整。

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