“Brokeback’s” director was blasted for his newest-released film “Lust, Caution,” which critics say opens the door for more explicit pornographic material to enter mainstream film culture in the United States.
Rated NC-17 by the Motion Pictures Association of America, the Ang Lee film contains a graphic 30-minute sex scene where full female frontal-nudity is shown.
“We think that pornography is pornography, no matter how well you have packaged it, no matter how famous is this director, or how much money you have invested in this movie,” said
Dr. Bill Tam with the Traditional Family Coalition (TFC), a traditional family values advocacy group which boycotted the film alongside Concerned Women for America and the Values Advocacy Council.
Tam added that the film negatively portrays Asians in popular culture.
“A reporter has asked the director why there is so much sex in the movie,” he stated. “The director replied people don’t understand Asian culture.”
“So, as an Asian, I feel very humiliated and shameful for what he said.”
No stranger to controversy, Ang Lee’s previous work “Brokeback Mountain” was denounced by conservative evangelicals as promoting homosexual-promiscuity. Others, on the other hand, expressed outrage at “Brokeback’s” use of frontal nudity.
Earlier in 1993, Lee directed “Wedding Banquet,” a romantic comedy about a ‘gay wedding’ between a Chinese-American and Caucasian man.
The Taiwanese-national initially expressed annoyance that Chinese-language media had placed much emphasis on “Lust’s” sex scene, but made no attempt to push for an R-rating during his film’s limited September-release in the United States.
“Lust” is scheduled for a much wider release in China in October. The Chinese-release will have seven minutes of footages cut by the director himself to make the film more suitable for a younger audience in China, which lacks a rating system.
The film received the Golden Lion award at the most recent Venice Film Festival.
Widely-released in Hong Kong and Taiwan, “Lust” is marketed as a thriller based on a novella by author Eileen Chang. Set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II, the story focuses on a young female student revolutionary who disguises herself to seduce and kill a prominent collaborator.
Those closest to Chang have accused the director of straying far from the original storyline, which made no mention of a sex scene and only focused on male and female tensions in war-torn China.
It is widely believed that the story is loosely based on the actual assassination attempt of true-life collaborator Ding Mocun, though Lee continually maintains that the story was solely inspired by Chang’s imagination.
The 52-year-old filmmaker has touted his film as being the “first movie allowed to be made about” Japanese occupation in China because it is regarded a “shame by both the national party in Taiwan and the Communists in China,” during an interview with Canadian morning television show, Canada AM.
“Mr. Lee is a Chinese but he forgot his root,” said Rev. Thomas Wang, a prominent overseas Chinese evangelical.
“He wants to develop his career and get fame for himself, but he forgot about his identity and how to do good for the society and young people."