30. Red Dust (1932)

Directed by Victor Fleming
Written by John Lee Mahin and Wilson Collison
Starring Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and Mary Astor
CW: Anti-Asian racism

Poor Clark Gable and his #masculinitysofragile. It’s not enough to have a gruff voice and chiseled jaw and dozens of Indochinese workers to exploit. The only two women on the rubber plantation are both desperate to fuck him. Still, Gable needs a manservant to boss around. Unlike the other natives, Willie Fung’s Hoy is obedient, effeminate, and fat. A sullen, cheese-loving Jean Harlow treats him like one might an eight-year-old child. To cheer her up, Hoy holds a pair of panties over his crotch and sways his hips. The girly savage and his doltish laugh. At least Ching, Spencer Tracy’s butler in Libeled Lady, didn’t have enough screen time to embarrass himself. Little Filipino Sasha got it good in school, believe me. His white classmates showed him what might well have been a Fung impression: slant eyes and broken English, lips curled to reveal weird teeth. Those kids didn’t learn until sixth grade Geography class that Asia comprised more than just China and Japan. It’s hard to be charitable to Fung when he paved the way for Long Duk Dong. I know: folks gotta eat. Should I have abstained from playing the racist and homophobic mandolin parts in Legally Blonde: The Musical? A third of my pay was going toward gas, anyway. It’s weird to get hung up on Asian masculinity when it’s doubtful (cis)manhood can be redeemed. Better to grow up to be a good, old-fashioned queer. Whole Foods, like warm weather, can often be a dysphoria trigger. Don’t get me started on those oatmeal sandwich cookies. I call bullshit on the ones in the Fairmount store. So skimpy with the creme. In the penultimate scene, Mary Astor shoots Clark Gable after she finds him and Jean Harlow hooking up. While Gable bleeds in his chair, Hoy weeps over him like a woman. As if we didn’t know who the real man was.