These four chapters are about the perception of Asians. Chapter four is entitled, “Senator Sir, Welcome to the World of Orientalism,” and is about how popular media depicts Asians. The author discusses the perception of Asian men in Hollywood as they have been closely associated with martial arts and in particular, stereotyping them as violent and members of gangs. Asian women have been overall sexualized in Hollywood as exotic and desirable. Going back to movies from the 1960s, it was also not uncommon for American actresses to portray Asian women by using eye makeup and darkening their skin. A fake accent was also part of the portrayal.
There have been television shows and films since then that are more sensitive to Asian culture and history. However, it is still common to see Asians portrayed as nerds or geeks who excel at math, science and computer technology. Some Asians, especially men, have been portrayed as “clueless,” sincere and honest. None of these stereotypical portrayals capture the complexities of different Asian cultures. In other words, Asians have been lumped into one category with little considerations of how different; for example, Korean culture is from Japanese culture. This chapter also discusses how Asians are portrayed and viewed as compliant with the law and good, abiding citizens who do not get into trouble.
Chapter 9, “Framing Asian Americans,” is specific to the challenges Asian Americans face, as victims of hate crimes, and how the media and general public perceive them. Orientalism is the perception that all Asians look alike and share similar traits. There have been geographical restrictions also as to where certain groups of Asians could live with San Francisco and its large Chinese population as an example. This is why in some cities you can find Chinatown.
As previously mentioned, white actors often portrayed Asians in movies to avoid the film codes forbidding interracial relationships. If a white actor was portraying an Asian in a relationship with another white actor not portraying an Asian, it was the same (in the eyes of the studio) as two white actors in a relationship. There is now a media watchdog organization that monitors negative portrayals of Asians.
Chapter 14 is entitled, “Asian Americans and the Black-White Paradigms.” This chapter covers the perception that Asians are more motivated and successful than other populations of color. The authors claim there is a definite connection between perception of success and skin color. There are also sections of Asian American communities that rely on and need welfare support because of discrimination or lack of education.
Asian American communities are also very supportive of each other and of causes because of shared experiences. However, the incidences of Asian American-Black conflict, citing the shooting of a young black girl by a Korean American store owner, is an example of increased tension between these two communities. Political power struggles, particularly in California, heightened this tension. This chapter also makes an interesting observation that Asian Americans tend to be less aware of the history of the civil rights movement because they do not relate to its meaning as to them, it had little impact on their community.
Chapter 19 is entitled, “Improper Perceptions of Asian Crimes and Asian Americans.” The author claims that Asians have had a difficult time assimilating in the United States which as resoled in discriminatory immigration practices, leading to prostitution and crime among Asian communities. He also says that immigration laws have contributed to negative stereotypes against Asian Americans. He writes that two types of stereotypes exist in American pop culture” bad Asians depicted in films and on television and good – those that are smart and do not cause trouble. Racial tension between Asian Americans and those who do not welcome them into the community has caused bias in legal criminal cases as well.
Organized crime in the Asian American community is more likely to involve illegal trading, gambling and prostitution. There is also a high rate of illegal immigration within organized crime groups (alien smuggling groups). Tongs, small groups of immigrants, were involved in various illegal dealings including drug trafficking, bringing in large sums of revenue. Other illegal activities include the trafficking of young women to marry American men.
While Asian Americans are, as a whole, law abiding citizens, they are still segregated from the majority of mainstream America and there remains a level of suspicion and discrimination against many Asian American communities. Reflecting on the Asian Americans I have seen on television and on film, they are often portrayed as funny, self-deprecating. They also go out of their way to make a point of the differences between Asian cultures. The television show, “Fresh Off the Boat,” is an example of how an Asian American family tries to assimilate in America while retaining their cultural identify. The show is primarily about the difficulties and challenges they face while joking about their differences and how America perceives them.
Because it is so rare to see Asian families on television or movies, more shows like this are needed so other cultures can have an appreciation of the various Asian cultures and understand they are not all the same.
There is definitely an Asian stereotype that I have observed. People associate Asian children with success in music, math and science and think all Asian parents are strict. Asian restaurants give the appearance of people who are hard working, so there are a lot of positive images associated with Asian Americans. I have not noticed as much the depiction of Asian Americans as gang members, but I did learn about this from these chapters.