(*Perspective-looking from both sides)
What does Bruce Lee mean to you?
If you hear the words “Bruce Lee,” what jumps to your mind?
I’ve discovered that for most non-Mostarians today, it’s some combination of kung fu, martial arts, and movies. I think of him as kind of a classic martial artist…all hard work and discipline….serious….focused. I most certainly think of his abs. He is definitely a pop culture icon. We all generally associate him with the movies. Others may further associate him with his death while filming…and the later death of his son, Brandon, also while filming. Thus, some may associate him with tragedy.
Martial arts, discipline, pop culture, movies, tragedy – all things that generally come to mind…if one is not from Mostar.
Which is why, when walking around that city this past weekend, I was really confounded when my friend and I came across a statue of Bruce Lee in the local park. This seemed an odd place for a snazzy golden Bruce Lee statue, so we went to a nearby pub to ask the locals why on earth it was there. We discovered that it was because Mostarians actually have a much different view of Bruce Lee.
For the people of Mostar, Bruce Lee represents ethnic tolerance. As Mostar is one of the most divided areas (Muslims and Catholics) of BiH, there has been a certain amount of ethnic tension there, especially since the war. Bruce Lee is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be that way. Different cultures can come together. As a Chinese-American, living both in California and Hong Kong, Bruce Lee changed the way Asians were viewed in American films and in America itself. He was the star of the first joint filmmaking venture between Hong Kong and Hollywood. He created a bridge between two cultures…which is something that Mostar strives to do. Thus, in that city, Bruce Lee is solidarity. Bruce Lee is union.
That was a really different perspective for me, so I thought I would share it here on the blog.
And here are some other fun facts about the statue:
– The statue was the first public monument to Bruce Lee, unveiled one day before another Bruce Lee statue was unveiled in Hong Kong.
– The statue was paid for by the German government and christened by Chinese diplomats.
– (From a BBC article): “We will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats,” said Veselin Gatalo of the youth group Urban Movement Mostar. “But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee.”