North American media has done it again! The under representation, misrepresentation, and erasures of Asian Americans in American media have been occurring throughout history and remain to this day. Looking back on one of the firstAsian American actresses, Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American woman to make her way to Hollywood. She had gained international recognition but, her roles tended to work towards the stereotypical “dragon lady” role. Where do these stereotypes come from? The “dragon lady” stereotype is an example of a racial caricature and is only a small example of how Asians are portrayed in media. It’s almost impossible to find the line between “good” representation and “bad” representation, but it is important to address these representations due to the impact they have on how the cultures are viewed.
A lot of these misrepresentations have began from the “Model Minority” myth. The “Model Minority” myth is the idea that Asians have been able to thrive in the United States by their hard work. This phrase was actually used to criticize African Americans for not succeeding as well as Asians in the United States, while ignoring the oppressions that they both experience. Ideas that stemmed from the “model minority” myth are that Asians are naturally intelligent, and hard workers. These may be positive stereotypes but harness negative effects. This page provides detailed examples of how stereotypes are represented and challenged throughout television shows such as Fresh off the Boat.
When the media isn’t misrepresenting Asian Americans, they are erasing them completely. Casting white people in Asian roles has been becoming more common these days. This occurrence is commonly known as “white washing”. Most recently, Scarlett Johansson has been casted in the American adaptation of the Japanese film Ghost in the Shell. White washing not only happens in films, but in modeling as well. White model, Karlie Kloss was involved in an advertisement that required her to wear traditional Japanese clothing. The photoshoot’s results were incredibly distasteful and disrespectful. Portrayal of Asians in media don’t end with television and films. There’s also an interesting case study on how the the population of Asian Americans affect how they are presented in newspapers.
Our goal for this project is not only to address the issues that have been constantly ignored, but to give voice to the Asian Americans who have been overlooked throughout history.
Recommended sources about the “Model Minority” myth in relation to Media: