Disney+’s highly anticipated series “American Born Chinese” has received a new poster from “Everything Everywhere All at Once” artist James Jean as it premiered at the SXSW Film Festival.
Disney+ also revealed a new poster by Jean for the upcoming eight-episode series.
Explaining the poster in a press release, Jean said his design captures Jin Wang, played by Ben Wang, carrying Sun Wukong, who has shape-shifted into his school backpack.
While his backpack alludes to the idea of cultural and emotional baggage, the flora emerging from within is a pastiche of the paintings of Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary who became a court painter in China during the Qing dynasty and revolutionized traditional silk scroll painting by combining Western rendering techniques with traditional Chinese aesthetics.
Jean further explained that the Castiglione reference in the poster represents “the idea of cross-assimilation between East and West, not only from the narrative of the show, but in my own work as well.”
The cowlick on [Jin’s] head is from my own experience growing up in New Jersey where my Italian barber was incapable of cutting Asian hair, resulting in the shorter hairs shooting straight up. On Jin’s phone, Mjölnir flies into Freddy Wong’s head, further emphasizing the clashing of cultures.
Jean also shared in the press release that Jin’s journey in “American Born Chinese” felt “so hauntingly familiar” to him, saying, “It was the pain of recognition: the ill-fitting clothes, the feeling of being on the outside, the percussive sound of parents arguing through the walls in a language not fully grasped. I had never seen my own experience of adolescence depicted on screen like this before.”
As “American Born Chinese” held its premiere in the United States, the series reportedly caused a stir in Taiwan.
The IMDb storyline of the series’ first episode indicates that Wei-Chen Sun, played by actor Jim Liu, is a student from China who was assigned to be Ben’s new student “shadow.”
The distinction of Wei-Chen’s nationality raised some eyebrows in Taiwan as the character is portrayed as Taiwanese in Yang’s graphic novel.
A 32-year-old man named Justin Lai started a Change.org petition to call out Disney and demand the studio change the character’s country of origin.
Lai, who told Taiwan News that he moved to Taiwan in 2021, referenced a part in Yang’s graphic novel in which Wei-Chun corrects his teacher when she tells his class that he is from China.
Lai’s petition has so far garnered 88 out of 100 signatures as of this writing.