Amid the sexual allegations against Roman Polanski and many Hollywood giants, there seems to be an urgent need to separate the art from the artist, although it is quite difficult to do in this day and age. As a starting point, violence against women is used as a plot device to further the anti-capitalism agenda of depicting Noah Cross as pure evil, especially when the film reveals that he raped his daughter and that rape gave him a granddaughter and a daughter.
Furthermore, the way the film reveals this plot point is by having a misogynistic character literally slap the truth out of the victim/femme fatale. The men’s abuse of women in Chinatown is parallel to the men’s abuse of the environment, Noah Cross raped his daughter, Noah Cross also hoards water, and keeps it for the sake of profit, Noah Cross illegally strips farmers’ water for profit. Patriarchy and Capitalism go hand in hand as systems to oppress women and the environment.
Chinatown’s title is a bit misleading as one hopes the film will depict or discuss Chinatown, and its relationship to Asian Americans at the time, or depicts a more progressive view of Asian Americans especially after the years of anti-Asian sentiment in the US, or at least depict Chinatown as a real place in LA. Chinatown is merely a prop to support the infamous last line “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown” even though most of the film’s plot unfolds in LA and its surrounding areas, the climax of corruption is attributed solely to Chinatown. Furthermore, the audience might think that Jake’s joke about screwing like a Chinaman is a racist joke, but I don’t see it that way. For instance, the main stereotypes against men of Asian descent is that they are usually emasculated, desexualized characters, while the servants were presented as such, the Chinese person in the joke seems to be enjoying his sexuality, and the joke was also referring to the woman who slept with a Chinese man, and made him look like a fool. The joke might be sexist though. The film is mainly concerned with its critique of capitalism, the different layers of white social class, and sprinkles of Orientalism which are embodied by the non-speaking or barely speaking Asian characters such as the servants and the gardener. For instance, the duality of the Asian characters, they are not as they appear, the Japanese Gardner confuses glass with grass which gives Jack a new clue to solve the puzzle, or the Chinese servants of Mrs.
Mulwray who are hiding her daughter, and her secret. Furthermore, it is interesting how Polanski uses this double function of racism to divert the conversation and the character from finding the truth, this is a very similar to what Trump does when he says outrageous things in order to divert the American public, and the public America affects around the world from his actions, so that the public only comments on what he says rather than what his office does.