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Chinese Pioneers Railroaded...again....? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-10-28 10:31:46 |Display all floors
Here we go again! Hollywood at its worst!
If the Chinese aren't demeaned in their movies they are deliberately ignored. It's been going on since the 1930's and in this day and age (2011) it still hasn't stopped. The message to Chinese-Americans is clear; if you think nice, quiet and civilised is going to earn you respect then you're wrong! It doesn't work that way, especially in the US of A...

Source: Wall Street Journal
26 October, 2011

Do Chinese Pioneers Get Railroaded in AMC’s ‘Hell on Wheels’?

By Jeff Yang

The tale of the building of the transcontinental railroad, the steel band that wed the metropolitan East to the frontier West, is among the greatest in American history.

“It was the moon launch of its time,” says Chuck Vollan, assistant professor of history at South Dakota State University — an epic feat of engineering, human effort and national resolve. William G. Thomas, history professor at University of Nebraska and author of the new book “The Iron Way,” concurs, but adds that if anything, its impact was even more immediate and dramatic. “In a few short years, the railroad transformed society in ways that people of the time could never have imagined,” Thomas says. “It completely revolutionized communications and commerce. For people of that era, the railroad was the Internet.”

That’s why the announcement by AMC — the cable channel responsible for “Mad Men” and the breakout zom-drom hit “The Walking Dead” — that its next big original series, titled “Hell on Wheels,” would be set against the backdrop of the railroad’s construction triggered a surge of interest and hope in the Asian-American community. AMC at first indicated that the stories of Chinese Americans would not be part of the series. But in a statement sent to Speakeasy, the creators of the series now say they may broaden the show in coming seasons.

This was a chapter of America in which Asians loomed large, after all. Nine of 10 workers responsible for the laying of the rail from the nation’s Western edge in Sacramento through the perilous Sierra Nevadas were Chinese, and these so-called “coolie” workers proved their worth by extending the track East at a record-setting pace.

Charles Crocker, a leader of the Central Pacific railroad in the late 19th Century, marveled over their fearlessness and industry, noting that they worked twice as hard as Irish and German laborers for half the pay, while taking on the deadliest jobs on the line. They went deep underground and lowered themselves down sheer mountain cliffs to set blasting charges, and frequently died when the crude explosives went off too soon. (Their shocking casualty rate — during the winter of 1865, an estimated 1200 of the 3000 Chinese workers employed to push the rail through the mountains perished — became the source of the expression “Chinaman’s chance.”)

Theirs is a story of wrenching sacrifice and terrible risk in a hostile alien land. It seemed natural for this new series to tap into that dramatic potential. So when the show’s cast of characters was revealed this August, Asian Americans were understandably shocked to find that there wasn’t a single Chinese among them....

(Maybe they were shocked. But I wonder if they were surprised at all?)

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