Revisited: “Brotherhood is Powerful" with Tan Hoang Nguyen

13 Mar, 2018

Revisited: “Brotherhood is Powerful" with Tan Hoang Nguyen

Tan Hoang Nguyen lecture’s “Brotherhood is Powerful: The Pornography and Video Art of Norman Yonemoto” was a treat. The event was co-sponsored with the Department of Ethnic Studies, Performance Studies Graduate Group, the Department of Film & Media

The lecture was the first time that Nguyen returned to Cal since his graduation. Although Nguyen was slated to come for an HTNM lecture “Porn Sequence,” last semester, unfortunately he had to cancel due to health concerns.

Nguyen dove into the complexities of the pornographic films and art of Japanese American artist Norman Yonemoto. In contrast to other successful ‘gay male’ pornographic films of the time, Nguyen interrogates Yonemoto’s inclusion of socio-political critique within his films. His hardcore feature film, Brothers (1973, directed under the pseudonym Jason Sato), was hailed as the "first anti-war gay porn film." Notably, in comparison to other films, Brothers, is grounded and rooted in reality. Yonemoto's inclusion of real-life elements of ongoing radio commentary on the Vietnam War, contrasts strongly with the fantasy, utopian settings of other films of the day.

Particularly, Yonemoto includes commentary on the Queer and Asian experience, such as in a lost end scene in Brothers between one of the protagonists and a gay male colleague. Nguyen also compared structure within Yonemoto’s work to highlight running similarities in form, genre and narrative that further illustrated the uniqueness of the Queer Asian perspective.