Butterfly Trouble Take Two
In the 1980s, a minor French diplomat, Bernard Boursicot, was arrested in Paris for espionage for the People’s Republic of China. Boursicot claimed he had begun doing it to keep his relationship with Shi Pei Pu, a Beijing opera singer he had originally met while stationed in the diplomatic corps in Beijing in the 1960s. At the trial, it was revealed that Shi Pei Pu was male, and his lover, a facto Boursicot insisted he was completely ignorant of, in spite of their sexual relations for the past twenty years.
David Henry Hwang wrote M. Butterfly based on this case and as an ironic dialogue with the pernicious sexualized imperialism celebrated in „Madame Butterfly.“
David Cronenberg directed the film version of the play, which stars Jeremy Irons as the French diplomat, and John Lone as the Beijing Opera Star.
For a sample overview of the obsessive romance between the West and a suicidal decorative Asian woman, click HERE .
See my take on the sex/gender politics of the West’s engagement with East Asia, by clicking THERE.