Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Celebrating Year of the Dragon in 2012

By the Asian zodiacs, Year of the Dragon arrives around February or April, depending on your particular tradition.

For student groups, non-profit organizations and others with the Asian American community, what are some fun and innovative ways to celebrate without descending into kitschy stereotypes and hackneyed cliches? What would be really bold choices?

From a literary standpoint, I think there are some really magnificent possibilities. The Chinese American poet Arthur Sze uses the metaphor of the Silk Dragon to describe poetry.  Planning at least one poetry or short story reading dedicated to Asian and Asian American poetry and/or dragons would be fun.

Especially during dragon boat races, which were originally inspired by villagers who were trying to find a beloved poet who'd fallen in the river (and trying to distract the dragons from eating him.)

From a cinematic point of view? An edgier choice is presenting Frank Chin's Year of the Dragon with George Takei and Pat Suzuki. (NOT to be confused with Mickey Rourke's Year of the Dragon although the background Chinese dialogue in it is hilariously raunchy.)

Dock yourself points if you think a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would count. The same goes for How To Train Your Dragon and to a lesser degree Mulan. Sorry, Mushu.


But, given the interesting history of Godzilla as a modern day perspective on society and the role of science, technology and nuclear weapons, I would personally consider a mini-festival of his better films a fun approach. (But beware. He does have some real stinkers.)

If you had the cash to spare and could secure the right venue for him, Masanari Kawahara's short play, Gojira 1954, is really an amazing experience. He recreates the story of the original film using puppets, and heretical as it sounds, it's really more fun than the movie.

I wish Toho Studios' film Orochi, the 8 Headed Dragon based on the classic Japanese tale "Yamata no Orochi" hadn't been such a snooze-fest or I'd recommend it.  It will always baffle me how you could screw that story up. But hey, you could do a live re-telling of "Orochi, the 8-headed Dragon!"

DON'T get yourself a dragon tattoo in 2012. That's just cheesy. Nor would I upgrade your wardrobe to look like that fellow from the beer commercial. Or at least, don't overdo it.

What are some ways you want to celebrate the arrival of Year of the Dragon in 2012?

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