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An Analysis of Rosa Fong’s film Deconstructing Zoe (2018)


This writing assignment asks you to write a short paper analyzing Rosa Fong’s film,
Deconstructing Zoe (2018) by answering ONE of the following of prompt questions below. In
addition, please draw upon materials from assigned reading and in-class discussion. For this
assignment, you must write a three-page (maximum four-page) essay answering one of the
prompt questions below. Your essay should be neatly typed, double-spaced (with one-inch
margins and 12 points font; be sure to number your pages). More important, please structure
your essay around a thesis statement, and organize your visual analysis and discussion of two
specific scenes from the film into a cohesive argument.

This writing assignment requires no research beyond reading David L. Eng’s Introduction to
Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America.
Also when appropriate, please reference Eng’s article in proper footnotes (or endnotes) in MLA
style. There are many different styles of footnotes and endnotes. Please use the Chicago Style of
footnotes and endnotes

Prompt Questions:

Note: Please keep the following questions in mind as you answer one of the prompt questions
below: Who are Zoe/Chowee and Ivan Heng? What nationality are they? Where were they born?
What is their ethnicity? What are their respective professions?

1) Discuss the metaphors of the orchid flower and bonsai that are used by the actors in the film,
namely Zoe/Chowee and Ivan Heng, to represent racial, sexual and gender stereotypes. Do you think these are apt metaphors? Do you find their internalization of these stereotypes empowering
or self-victimization? If so, why and if not, why?

2) How do Zoe/Chowee Loew and Ebonknee/John identify their respective gender and sexual
orientations? Why, according to Zoe and perhaps Ebonknee, the more femme one becomes do
“straight” men expect one to be the more phallically dominant? How does Zoe define
“transgender”? Why do “straight” men love transgender women? Do you think these “straight”
men’s love for transgender women, especially Asian and black transgender women, are sincere?
Or, is this part of another racial and sexual fetish?

3) Discuss how effective the multigenre (i.e., plays, folktales, interviews) approach is to
storytelling and how it contributes to the multivocality and perspectives on gender, race and
sexuality in the in the film. Note: please be specific in your answer by pointing to specific scenes
and voices.

4) How are Asian men represented sexually in the West? Why, according to Zoe, are Asian men
marginalized by white gay men? Why, according to Zoe, is being a transgender Asian man more
empowering and provide more acceptance than being an Asian man in a white world? How does
living in an increasingly “gender queer” or transgender tolerant society help to ameliorate this
intolerance and marginalized situation?

5) This question is an opportunity for you to frame your own argument and interpretation of
Rosa Fong’s film. What do you think are some of the shortcomings of the film?

Note: If you choose to answer question #5, please be sure you have a clear and strong argument
and be able to substantiate your argument with specific scenes, voices, and characters from the

See attachment for detailed instruction and class reading

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