By Chris Ip
In today’s technology you can see it regularly revolving around social media and media in general. With people continuously on their phones watching video clips and looking at images that are on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, images and concepts begin to influence the viewer. A big problem with media and their representation on different races are very similar to their stereotype counterparts. Very common in media you see the representations of Asians being portrayed as the typical stereotypes seen in movies and pictures. Often you see Asians males in different areas of media such as TV, movies and advertisements, represented as nerdy, feminine, illiterate in English, academically smart, master of kung fu or socially awkward to name a few, which is not true with all Asians. With these constant enforcement of these stereotypes seen daily in media, it only further encourages these negative views towards Asians.
If you take look at a recently new show called Fresh Off The Boat, each character has their own unique personality outside of the media stereotype but i wanted to focus on the main character Eddie Huang. This show is based off of Eddie Huang’s actual life growing up in Orlando, Florida and how he faced new issues being the only Asian kid in his school/area at the time. The show jokes around positively and negatively with Asian culture and tradition bringing these viewed stereotypes to the surface. Eddie plays an outgoing, hip hop loving, sports fanatic and stylish asian boy who is smooth with the ladies and is the total opposite of the stereotypes represented in current media. This is the total opposite of what Qin would describe media representation on Asians. Usually viewed as “culturally ignorant, effeminate, asexual, isolated, and subservient martial artists or cunning villains .” (Qin, 2010) Some other stereotypes Qin mentions are the stereotypes that have not changed through time such as Asians are “ inassimilable foreigners, who are never American, speak poor English, and lack appropriate social skills” If you compare Eddie to these views, he is not culturally ignorant, in fact he’s very culturally aware and aware with hip hop culture, hes not asexual or isolated and has many friends on the show, he doesn’t know martial arts, he’s american, has good English and social skills, which is nothing close to media’s representation on Asians.
In clip this you can see how Eddie isn’t your typical Asian character in most TV shows, let alone the main character of the show. In the Flux’s reading, Battling with Stereotypes, she discusses how this Australian show Maximum Choppage pushes the views on Asians with a dominated Asian cast and a main character who is Asian. Simon Chang plays the main character in Maximum Choppage, his character carries the entire story/message of the show just like Eddie on Fresh Off the Boat, they are both “very much center stage as leads and not just nominal day-player roles.”(FLUX, 2015) During the show Eddie shares stories of his childhood as the viewers listen and follows for the adventure instead of most shows which are centered around Caucasian characters. Eddie is the total opposite of media’s representation of Asians. He is not an A student, he’s into hip hop music and sports, he speaks good English, is not foreign and a ladies man. Another concept Eddie’s personality steers away from is the Model Minority. The Model Minority which makes Asians the leading example for other races for how they should behave or act. Asians, usually known for their handwork and good work ethics, the model minority would be centered around these concepts. Eddie does not have these features very often during the show.
Looking at other Asian actors in other popular TV shows i wanted to analyze and compare Eddie Huang with Hiro from the show Heroes. Hiro plays a nerdy office guy who discovers he has the ability to manipulate time. Often lonely and not around friends he plays a the media stereotype of Asians. Along with his Asian accent he also has a Japanese name compared to Eddie which is American. Hiro is seen as foreign and sometimes oblivious while Eddie is not foreign and is seen as a hip cool guy. Eddie’s style is also different in that he wears baggy clothes and and has a hip hop, sporty sense of fashion.
Media representation of Asians in places such as shows and advertisements haven’t changed much through time, often seen in negative ways, similar to stereotypes about Asians. But with the help of new shows like Fresh off the Boat and Maximum Choppage they are changing the way media and people are viewing Asians and Asian culture. If more shows like these were produced, not just for Asians but with other races as the main character and dominant cast, then it could be possible to change the way media is presenting different races and help the media’s view on different perspectives.
- FLUX, ELIZABETH. “BATTLING with STEREOTYPES Maximum Choppage and Asian Representation.” Metro, no. 185, Winter2015, pp. 46-51. EBSCOhost, offcampus.lib.washington.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=108800244&site=ehost-live.
- Zhang, Qin. “Asian Americans beyond the Model Minority Stereotype: The Nerdy and the Left out.” Journal of International & Intercultural Communication, vol. 3, no. 1, Feb. 2010, pp. 20-37. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/17513050903428109.