Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boy Am I Glad I Wasn't Raised In An Orphanage Training Me For A Life In the Chinese Opera

...Unlike Jackie Chan, whose autobiography I read, which is I Am Jackie Chan: My Life In Action by Jackie Chan with Jeff Yang (Ballentine Books), 1998.
Action hero Jackie Chan is known for being a guy who does his own stunts in his movies. I like that he has a hilarious kinesthetic sense of humor, and I can see how he claims that he was influenced by Buster Keaton, who also did a lot of his own stunts. (Full disclosure: I have only seen a few snippets of Buster Keaton, so it's not like I can make some sort of cultured observation. But -- from the very little that I know of Buster Keaton I would venture to say that Jackie Chan has been influenced by him.)
Jackie Chan had it hard growing up. His parents were so poor that they basically sold him into indentured servitude to this school that taught students how to perform in the Chinese opera. That’s a type of traditional theater that incorporates among other things, acrobatics and martial arts. At this school he was tortured with corporeal punishment, starvation and various other unbelievable things, all this the whole time he was growing up. It was hard to read because it was an abusive orphanage. I should have read this when I was growing up and I would have been at least happier knowing that no matter how long I was grounded for, at least I wasn't undergoing what Jackie Chan went through. 
This book is more heartbreaking than egotistical but I would have liked it much more if he was preposterous. I find that MORE compelling. Maybe the fact that I tend to enjoy salaciously egotistic celebrity autobiographies the most is that I am a disgraceful person.

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