Who Killed Vincent Chin?

March 31, 2009 at 9:32 pm 1 comment

It is clear who physically killed Vincent Chin. From the beginning, Who Killed Vincent Chin? explains that Ronald Ebens and his stepson had a verbal tussle with Vincent Chin and his companions at a topless bar. Later, Ebens beat Vincent Chin with a baseball bat while his stepson held Chin down. The audience knows the basic premise but more parts of the story are developed in a “collage” fashion as the film progresses. While the film progresses relatively chronologically, the audience must constantly reconstruct the story.

When the film first retold the events of Chin’s murder and the subsequent trial, I was more furious at Ronald Ebens than at the justice system. He seemed to try to justify all of his actions. He complained about spending a night in a jail cell with an uncomfortable though. I was annoyed that this seemed to be his biggest concern after he had just beat a man to death. Ebens did not seem too concerned at all with what he had done. His wife explained that the day he was ordered to jail, he had gone to work and had even played some baseball. The film initially portrayed Ebens as ignorant and relatively carefree. Ebens expressed annoyance of the community’s uprising against his light punishment saying that it was “selfish, a way for Asian-Americans to get ahead, overcome their alleged plight, alleged because I know very few Asians, very few.”

As the film progressed, I definitely directed more anger towards the justice system rather than Ebens. Ebens became more of a symbol of what was wrong with the courts. This feeling began to develop with the interview of the first judge that gave Ebens probation and a $3000 fine for the murder. The judge avoided the direct subject of the sentence and was instead complaining about the number of sentences he had to give out daily. Others also argued that the courts didn’t have enough money for more involved (hence, more fair) trials. In the end, the Ebens sentence did not make sense. How could so many people call attention to the case and how could Ebens, a murderer, walk away free? I suppose that one of the values of the film is that it makes sure that the case never truly dies.

–Michelle Fong

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HOLLYWOOD CHINESE Screening – Wednesday, April 1, 7pm, Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College YOURS TRULY, MISS CHINATOWN Screening – Wednesday, April 8, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Tommy Meyer  |  April 5, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Michelle, I really like this post. I feel that the aspect of this case that is most overlooked is the fact that a murder took place here. Regardless of race, Vincent Chin was murdered by Ronald Ebens. I mean, his life was taken from him. Yes, this is, in my opinion, a violation of Civil Rights, but still, Chin was murdered. Ebens openly admits to murdering this man, yet he only gets a slap on the wrist for his crime. That alone should warrant more than a $3000 fine and probation, but as you mentioned, there are serve problems with the justice system. I truly hated Ebens for his arrogance and black heart, but by the end of the film I hated the justice system even more. Was that something Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena were going for?

    As I watched this film, I could not help but think of the O.J. Simpson case. I truly feel that Ebens was not convicted because of regional differences and the amount of media attention in Detroit. The media distorts images of the real picture, but I saw a fairly accurate picture being painted in the movie. Still, the media hurt Chin’s case, and unfortunately, our justice system was not able to correct this error. I agree that the case never truly dies.

    – Tommy

    Reply

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