Our new experimental short film “Far East of Eden” features legendary performance artist Karen Finley, directed by video artist Bruce Yonemoto, and is narrated by actor and activist George Takei. The film links Donald Trump to a long American history of racial exclusion. “Far East of Eden” launches today on YouTube.
The 2016 election has been volatile with many American citizens taken aback by the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has served as the foundation of Donald Trump’s run for President. But if Trump’s promises of building a wall or banning Muslims from the United States sound unique or new, they’re not. America has seen politicians like Trump before, and their words and policies have had dire consequences.
Karen Finley delivers a raw and transgressive performance and wickedly parodies Donald J. Trump. She mashes Senator James D. Phelan’s racist rhetoric and Woody Guthrie’s classic lyrics “This land is your land. This land is my land. Let’s make sure it’s not their land.”
The film shares George Takei’s personal story as a child recounting his family being taken away to the Japanese American internment camps during World War II. “We were ordered out of our home,” Takei says in the film. “They couldn’t even call us citizens then. We were enemy non-aliens…. We were taken to the horse stables. Thinking back now, I can’t imagine how humiliating and degrading it must have been for my parents.”
“Far East of Eden” traces a course from the rhetoric of Senator Phelan, an outspoken opponent of Asian immigration at the turn of the last century, through the internment of Japanese-American families during World War II, to Trump’s flamboyant promises to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Phelan, himself the son of an Irish immigrant, was a vocal opponent of immigration from China and Japan who campaigned for office under the slogan, “Keep California White.”