Bruce Lee: Counterpower as Citizenship
“Bruce Lee made me feel like I could enter the lunch room.”
Dominican man, age 41, who grew up in Chicago’s South Side.
Bruce Lee is an internationally beloved figure who unites underdogs around the world and throughout history. His most important films came out in the early 70s when America was getting their butt kicked in Vietnam and anti-war sentiments were peaking. So in 1972, Asians, Latinos, Blacks, and White cinema-goers together cheered Bruce’s victory over the Western Chuck Norris, allegorizing a victory over hegemony. Lee also captured the imagination of hip hop in the 1990s via the Wu-Tang Clan; an ethnically divided community in Bosnia-Herzegovina who erected a statue to Lee—the only person they could agree upon; and a homegrown kung fu and film club in Uganda. In fact, small “video halls” in rural Uganda indicate that they are open for business by simply placing an image (poster, mural) of Bruce Lee outside their venue.
Bruce Lee himself was ¼ Caucasian and, against the orders of his Chinese contemporaries, chose to teach Westerners his craft. Thus, leaping, bounding, and flying through the air, Bruce Lee—diasporic ambassador on screen and in real life—transcends time and geography with his message of counterpower.
Marisa Morán Jahn
An artist of Ecuadorian and Chinese descent, Marisa Morán Jahn is the founder of Studio REV- whose public art and creative media have been showcased at The White House, PBS, MoMA, worker centers, and international media. A grantee of Creative Capital, Sundance, and Tribeca Film Institute, Jahn teaches at MIT. studiorev.org | @marisa_jahn