A Vietnamese vendor paddles up to Paul and offers him a live chicken. Paul refuses politely, but the vendor is persistent. He grips one of the chickens and pushes it closer to Paul’s face as it gives a few jarring flaps. Paul, now angry, refuses again. The vendor tries one last time, now with a fatter, flappier chicken. “Get that fucking thing off of me,” Paul yells. “No, motherfucker.” The atmosphere turns and the vendor is horrified. “Motherfucker?” he retorts. “You killed my father and mother!” Paul is livid. He lunges at the vendor while his friends restrain him, and the scene descends into chaos.
Paul is not a real person, but a character in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which premiered on Netflix in 2020. Indeed, Paul (played by Delroy Lindo) could not be real because this scene is so implausible. Vietnamese market vendors don’t force live chickens on tourists; they also don’t accuse Americans of killing their parents when the sale doesn’t work out. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen churlishly puts it in his scathing analysis of the film in The New York Times, the Vietnamese are more likely to see foreigners—including Americans—as “walking wallets, not to be offended.”
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