A Conversation for The Films of the Coen Brothers

Significance of Mike Kanagita in Fargo

Post 1

Tashalls, Muse of Flights of Fancy (Losing Weight at A858170)

I was wondering whether anyone had more information of the use of Mike Kanagita (or Yanagita) in Fargo. He is the old classmate of Marge's and makes a pass at her, while she desperately tries to be friendly and save him the embarrassment. He is later revealed to have lied about marrying a mutual high school acquaintance, and is thus portrayed as a sad figure as well as a liar.

I have seen several theories about why this character is introduced into the film, as he does not seem to have any plot-driving function:

1. He is the "buffer" between Marge's two interviews with Jerry Lunderguard. In this way, his lies spark some kind of connection in Marge's mind as to Jerry's own lies to her about his involvement in the case, and this is what leads her to visit him again and further press him.

2. Mike is there to provide more depth to Marge's character, in how she handles embarrassing situaions with dipomacy, again highlighting the differences between her and the shady characters in the film.

3. This theory is from numerous articles I have read on how Asian-Americans are portrayed on film - that Mike is simply a stereotype in order to provide some comic relief. That Marge could find him attractive is ludicrous, and allows the viewer some "downtime" from the violent acts and issues of the rest of the film.

4. No reason - this is the Coen Brothers, after all!

Of all these theories, I would like to believe Number 1 the most, as it seems to provide a more plot-driven reason behind the scene. However, I was interested as to whether other people have their own theories or have read articles in which the Coen Brothers themselves explain their motives behind including this character in Fargo.

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