The film Saving Face ideally addresses the theme of “coming out” in one’s community through Ma and Wil sexual liberation that challenges the Chinese traditions ethnic. In the movie, Wil is reluctant to reveal her relationship with Vivian to her mother and society due to the fear of being different from the collective identity in the Chinese community. She lives a life of pretense in the city as she tries to find a balance between her life as a lesbian and a responsible daughter in the Chinese society in Flushing. Wil, however, alters the normative heterosexuality articulation in the Chinese community when she opens up to her mother about her lesbian sexuality. She moreover embraces her sexuality when she publicly dances with Vivian after her return from Paris without ethnic shame.
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On the other hand, Wil’s grandfather wanted to marry off Gao, Wil’s mother, to Old Yu to restore his honor after his daughter’s disgrace of unmarried pregnancy. Due to the disgrace against the Chinese traditions, Gao had been willing to marry the older man. Little Yu, however, interrupts the wedding by confessing his love to Gao regardless of their age gap. This leads to a public and permanent relationship between the two. Gao more so breaks the normative concepts of the Chinese community when she deliberately dances with Young Yu without shame in the presence of her father and Old Yu.
Gao’s relationship with Young Yu is also addressed by Alvin Wong’s revolutionizing cross-generational sexual perversion argument. Alvin points out that Gao’s courageous move of dancing with Young Yu in front of her father and old Yu was an action that evoked change in the Chinese tradition. Alvin’s argument thus depicts the theme of coming out in one’s community through Gao embracing her cross-generation sexual relationship with Young Yu regardless of their age gap. She finally reveals her relationship to the public without ethic shame because she had become more sexually liberated.
Walters, James. “Saving Face: Inflections of Character role-play in Shameless.” Journal of British Cinema and Television vol. 3, no. 1. 2006. pp. 95-106.