A film producer e-mailed me with a serious question regarding a planned action-adventure movie for the Asian market.
He wanted to know if a romantic relationship between an African-American male and an Asian female would pose a problem for Hong Kong audiences.
It was a good question; one I took time to consider before replying. While no expert on all things Hong Kong, I have observed enough of local attitudes to have formed an opinion.
Interracial pairings are becoming more common in Hollywood films, but the closest movie to touch on the producer's idea is Romeo Must Die, where the characters of Jet Li and Aaliyah develop a romance. Yet the producers wimped out; the hero doesn't get to kiss the girl (Tak Toyoshima's brilliant Secret Asian Man nailed this one cold; click the thumbnail to see the comic).
Gender-reversal will prove less a problem as likeable, good-looking actors with chemistry will go a long way to reducing racial bias. Think about it: would you have issues if say, Denzel Washington kissed Zhang Ziyi?
Neither would I.
As for Hong Kong audiences, the younger generation is far more open-minded about interracial relationships than their parents and grandparents. However, the Hong Kong film industry hasn't turned out many films dealing with the subject; homosexuality has received more attention as a topic.
Does this mean audiences are sensitive to racial mixing, or that they just don't care? I suspect the latter among those who attend action-adventure flicks.
Provided the story is compelling and the characters aren't stereotypes, Hong Kong audiences should accept the pairing with little controversy.
I may be biased, given my interracial marriage, but I hope humanity has progressed to the point where the portrayal of attraction between the sexes feels natural, regardless of colour.