The 3 stars of Body Issues answer the series’ biggest question: Would you press a button?

One thing that confuses me after reading Cixin Liu Three body problem and watch its Netflix adaptation it’s a simple button.

Spoilers for 3 Body problem track.

I still can’t understand why Ye Wenjie, faced with the choice of whether to respond or ignore messages from the San Ti, an alien race, decided to answer. Throughout human history, first contact events rarely go well and go even worse when both sides are technologically unbalanced. So why did a supposedly superintelligent woman place her hopes in a race of beings who had already made their hostile designs clear on Earth?

In an interview with Yeh’s actresses Rosalind Chao and Zing Tseng, who play the character at different stages of her life in the Netflix series, I decided to ask what they thought of Yeh’s actions and what they would do if faced with her choice to push the button.

“Naivety is what led to her fatal act,” Chao said. Before making her choice, Ye faced incredible trauma. She watched as her father, a distinguished physicist and college professor, was beaten to death during one of Mao’s infamous sessions of the Cultural Revolution. That same revolution has left Ye, herself a physicist, with no future as China turns into a country where her expertise in science is seen as subversive—a threat to Mao’s repressive, anti-intellectual regime. She falls into a trap, forced to serve as a research scientist for the government that killed her father. “She thinks the whole world is going through what she is going through, and she has the opportunity to make it better,” Chao said.

But what does “better” mean in this context?

Zing Zeng as Ye Wenjie in her new life at the Red Beach base.
Image: Ed Miller/Netflix

A sympathetic man, San Ti, warned Ye that continued communication would encourage the entire race to invade. Knowing this, she presses the button anyway. I asked Chao and Tseng whether Ye’s desire to make the world a “better place” was born out of the hope of salvation or the anger of wanting to see the world that had hurt her destroyed.

“There is anger and there is hope,” Tseng replied. Although E inevitably presses the button, she pauses before doing so. “I felt there was hope [contained in] hesitation.” Chao considers the Great Button Press to be a more neutral action. “[Pushing the button] has a flavor of malice,” she said. “But it pushes her forward.”

Understanding Ye’s actions means understanding who was indelibly shaped. on the events of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. According to Tseng, Ye survived that period thanks to her strength. “She is one of the strongest people of that time,” Tseng said. “She’s been through so many life-threatening events, but she’s alive.”

Tseng said Ye’s ability to survive is what appeals to her most about the character. For Chao, it’s Ye’s ability to adapt. “She adapts to circumstances according to what serves her and what she perceives as service to humanity,” Chao said.

Ye’s choice has dire consequences for both humanity and herself. Due to the transfer to San Ti, she loses everything and everyone she hoped to save, including her own life. It is difficult to feel sympathy for someone who suffers the consequences of their choices when those consequences have been at least hinted at, if not clearly stated up front. But Chao feels this is where she learned her greatest lesson. 3 Body problem lie. “What I Really Learned” 3 Body problem “It’s a certain kind of empathy,” Chao said. “There are so many shades of gray and you never know what causes someone to take an action that might be perceived as wrong or wrong.”

Rosalind Chao as Elder Ye Wenjie.
Image: Netflix

Chao said that when she read Three body problem, she came away with an understanding of E as a character. But it was only through her portrayal that she was able to develop empathy for this doomed woman. “It opened up my way of thinking,” Chao said.

Her answer amazed me. I can’t seem to have the same feelings for Ye, but I was wondering if empathizing with her would lead her actresses to make the same decision.

Tseng responded matter-of-factly, refusing to press the button. “I take advice,” she said. “Because they said, ‘Don’t answer.’ Chao, however, disagreed. “If I had gone through everything Ye went through,” Chao said, “how could I not press the button?”

Although I still can’t understand Ye Wenjie and her choices, as well as the choices of many other characters in 3 Body problemNow I understand better why.

“If someone tells me not to do it,” Chao said with a laugh, “I want to do it even more.”

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