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In furious essay, Bruce Lee’s daughter says she’s ‘really f***ing tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was’

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

Shannon Lee, daughter of martial arts icon and actor Bruce Lee, says that it's high time for "white men in Hollywood" to stop "trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was."

What's a brief history here?

She made the remarks in response to Hollywood power player Quentin Tarantino's remarks that the late martial arts guru was arrogant. Tarantino in his 2019 film, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," portrayed Bruce as such, and recently told Joe Rogan that he believed Bruce had "nothing but disrespect for stuntmen."

In the film, Lee — portrayed by actor Mike Moh — challenges fictional stuntman Cliff Booth — portrayed by actor Brad Pitt — to a fight and loses. At the time, Shannon said that Tarantino portrayed her father as an "arrogant a**hole who was full of hot air."

"I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character the super badass who could beat up Bruce Lee," she said following the film's release, "but they didn't need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive."

In his recent discussion with Rogan, Tarantino said that Bruce was "kind of an arrogant guy" and "was always hitting [stuntmen] with his feet," and "tagging," a move Tarantino explains as "when you hit a stuntman for real."

"And it got to be the point where, 'I refuse to work with him,'" Tarantino insisted.

What has Shannon said?

In a column published in the Hollywood Reporter, Shannon insisted that she is "really f***ing tired of white men in Hollywood" — such as Tarantino — "trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was."

She continued, "I'm tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an a**hole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and '70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color. I'm tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion, and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and his contributions."

"I'm tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them," Shannon continued, noting that her father — who "lived and breathed martial arts" — was the leader in his industry at the time and made an incredible impact on the action film genre with his groundbreaking fight choreography.

"I'm tired of white men in Hollywood barely footnoting the impact he had on the action film genre and fight choreography, or the proliferation of and interest in martial arts he sparked globally ... while casually downplaying how his accomplishments have lifted spirits and become a source of pride for Asian-Americans, communities of color, and people around the world," she added.

The martial arts icon died in 1973 at the age of 32 — and at the height of his career — after suffering brain edema, which was possibly caused by a reaction to a prescription painkiller.

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