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Hollywood is unfair and pernicious in its portrayal of Asians, the research shows time and again. Stereotypical and often contradictory characteristics are imposed on Asians. There are clear indications that such media characterizations are reinforcing misperceptions that are manifesting in real life as everything from covert discrimination to unabashed racism.
Stereotypes have very real consequences for Asians living in the West in terms of day-to-day interaction, current events and governmental legislation. Upwardly mobile Asians find themselves hitting glass ceilings and earning far less than their white counterparts due to preconceived notions about their temperament, lack of trustworthiness, innovation and poor leadership abilities.
What was the latest Hollywood blockbuster movie you saw? Chances are, it was embedded with negative Asian stereotypes. Chances are, you didn't notice.
Racism against Asians is often “unawares”—a form of racism that flies under the radar due to its widespread acceptance as the norm. Its interactive dynamic resembles that of an unwritten social contract. Asians in the West are expected to accept patronizing remarks and racist taunts so demeaning that perpetrators would think twice before dishing them out with such unwavering consistency to any other minority group, such as Latinos or African Americans. Asians who object to such treatment are typically met with befuddlement and offense at their audacity to make an issue out of it. Adverse reactions are, after all, a far cry from traditional media depictions of Asians as kowtowing in the face of denigration, such as in the character of Charlie Chan.
Although stereotypes are virtually unavoidable in any form of storytelling, the crux of the problem is not that Asian stereotypes are used or that they frequently occur, but that negative Asian stereotypes are essentially the only Asian themes ever used in Hollywood and other media.
Asian Hollywood actors have revealed that they are, as a rule, funneled into narrowly defined subservient or subversive roles. They are usually cast as foreigners and not as acculturated Americans; as strange and unfathomable beings bound by old tradition and beset with bizarre superstitions and habits. They are portrayed as sidekicks and extras, and either occupy supporting roles to Caucasian protagonists, or play the antagonist to a Caucasian protagonist. Asian characters often serve as cannon fodder or comic relief and have overplayed accents (such as with Long Duk Dong of Sixteen Candles or Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
Ten almost exclusively used Asian stereotypes in Hollywood and the media:
An Asian face or accent is used as a shorthand symbol for everything antithetical to American or Western culture. No distinctions are made between Asian Americans who are acculturated US citizens with deep roots in the country and Asian nationals who may not have any loyalty to the US. The media insinuation is that Asians (including US citizens) do not belong to and cannot be from the US or the West.
Asian males are yet to be cast in a leading Hollywood role, unless it is inseparable from their status as a foreigner with martial arts skills. Asians are cast as extras in nonspeaking roles, as foreign tourists walking about with cameras. Asian Americans are personated as having thick accents and speaking in broken English. They are rarely portrayed as assimilated citizens, but as inherently foreign and non-American.
At best, Asian-American youth are portrayed as struggling with cultural identity issues, such as in the Lane Kim character of the television series, The Gilmore Girls and the various characters of the movie, The Joy Luck Club.
Pressure by the MANAA has resulted in a very small handful of TV shows (e.g. The Mentalist) abandoning perpetual-foreigner stereotypes in favor of placing Asian Americans in minor support roles, as fluent English speakers sans accents. However, the Asian as Perpetual Foreigner remains the predominant onscreen portrayal of all main characters who are Asian.
2. Martial arts
Although the Asian martial-artist stereotype was derived from Asian actors such as Bruce Lee, Jacky Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat, these actors are/were in fact niche actors. As foreign-born actors trained in martial arts, they are/were essentially playing themselves—a point that seems to be lost among script writers, who habitually assign the kungfu-foreigner role to Asians who aren't in fact foreigners nor martial arts experts. The implication is that all Asians are foreigners by default and inherently possess at least some degree of such fighting skills.
To add insult to injury, this stereotype is usually combined with stereotype 6: Inferior and subordinate to whites. Asian pugilists with immense fighting skills are shown as being ultimately inferior to whites (or blacks), who not only can beat them at their game, but are able to win knock-down-drag-out fights through sheer endurance—a quality that Asians are portrayed as lacking. Despite their sheer ferocity, Asians are ultimately presented as being spineless losers, squealing or pleading in the face of pain or death. Examples are Lethal Weapon 4, etc.
3. Model minority
Historically, Asians in North America were granted a tentative form of citizenship. They were classed as fellow-immigrants alongside white settlers, but with far fewer rights. Legislation against Asian immigration severely restricted their numbers. High rents and special taxes were levied, and laws were enacted to bar them from property ownership and from giving testimony in court. Racial atrocities were committed against Asian Americans with impunity. With no legal recourse available, their survival depended on keeping a low profile. The media was only too happy to cooperate in this regard. Despite their immense sacrifices in helping to build vital infrastructure such as the Transcontinental Railway and agricultural irrigation systems in California, the media filtered them out from receiving any credit for their contributions. For further information, refer to Anti-Chinese USA—Racism & Discrimination from the Onset.
Hollywood reflects this long tradition of disempowerment by relegating Asians to unassuming roles in nonthreatening service professions, reinforcing the idea of faceless individuals best suited to carrying on with their lives quietly. Ethno-specific occupations stereotypically assigned to Asians include the doctor, lab assistant or restaurant worker, the Japanese businessman (usually appearing in a group at a corporate board meeting) and occasionally, the Chinese news anchorwoman reminiscent of Connie Chung. Stereotypes for older Asians include the owner of a laundry service or grocery store.
With the exception of rogue criminals who refuse to play by the rules (see Archvillain stereotype below), Asians are cast as unassertive conformists, sidekicks and assistants, but never as leaders or trendsetters. They are also often cast as being successful and prosperous due to their industriousness, or as neurotic overachievers with stunted emotional development (such as the Asian American classmate in the canceled TV sitcom, Pearl).
Asians are often portrayed as being highly proficient in math and science, embodied in the nerd, geek or scientist who is at the disposal of whites. This is epitomized in the role of a hardworking, lab assistant who dutifully goes about his/her task in serving the Caucasian protagonist in many a television series.
Asians are also portrayed as extremely uncool (to the point of bizarre, such as the street violinist in Spiderman II), as having very poor taste and the inability to grasp American culture and nuances (such as in the character Rajiv, in Big Bang Theory).
5. Gendered racism
Can you name a movie in which an Asian male consummates a relationship with a Caucasian woman? Gendered racism is the intersection of both racism and sexism. It is based on the combination of gendered and racialised identities imposed on Asians. Hollywood is replete with images of the sexual Asian female and the asexual Asian male, and it promotes sanctioned racial coupling — Asian females may couple with Caucasians, while Asian males may not. Asian men are desexualized, while Asian women are fetchized.
In Hollywood, Asian women are sexually available. They are cast as exotic, feminine, sensual and portrayed either as a submissive China Doll or a seductive Dragon Lady vixen, as in the roles of Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal and Charlie’s Angels. In either stereotype of Asian female sexuality, she is sexually available to white (and occasionally black) men and an acceptable partner to white (and occasionally black) men, although she is often illegitimate and endangers the white man’s relationship with his legitimate partner. If an Asian female is cast in a relationship with an Asian male, the Asian male is, as a rule, an abusive or incapable husband who ultimately loses her to a more deserving Caucasian. Asian women are often portrayed as subservient, compliant, industrious and eager to please.
In the Madame Butterfly stereotype, the Asian woman is involved with a white man and chooses him over an Asian man, but ultimately has her heart broken by the White man (e.g. The World of Suzie Wong, where Chinese prostitute falls in love with a white man only to lose him).
Asian males cast as “unattractive.” The US media has a long history of presenting the Asian male as a Eunuch—it is a lingering representation that has made the transition to cinematic castration. Asian men are portrayed either as asexual, sexually inferior or effeminate according to western notions of sexuality — never sexually desirable to females. There may be no more than four instances in Hollywood's entire history, where an East Asian male has been allowed to consummate a relationship with a Caucasian woman. Asian men are almost never positively paired with women of any race. Asian males are often cast as being lonely and unattractive and resorting to deceit or to breaking social protocol
in their attempt to get a Caucasian woman in bed (such as in Fargo).
Negative perceptions on the desirability of Asian men have real-life repercussions on relationships. Dating and marriage statistics indicate that in the US—considered the biggest melting pot in the world—Asian males are far less desirable than Asian females. Asian males are among the least-preferred partners of all other ethnicities in the US. 
Statistics collected on 2.4 million users of an online dating app reveal highly distinctive heterosexual patterns of racical-gender preferences in the general population. While Asian men do not generally seek Asian women, the statistics on response rates also reveal that Asian women most strongly favor advances from white men. However, the discrepancy with Asian-male-Asian-female marriage statistics below is one of several indicators that Asian men generally partner with Asian women due to a lack of acceptance by other ethnicites. (Diagram from the Daily Mail)
Married couples in the United States, 2010 (thousands)
The phenomenon is not isolable to cultural dissimilation. Follow-up studies indicate that Asian male adoptees who were brought up in Caucasian households with completely Anglo-Saxon environments encounter a lack of acceptance by Caucasian females.
6. Inferior and subordinate
In countless media depictions, Asians are shown as being inferior and subordinate to whites. They often require rescuing by a Westerner who has superior ideals of democracy and human rights, or a knight in shining armor who ultimately succeeds in convincing them to transcend their stifling culture.
Asians serve as sidekicks and extras in supporting roles to Caucasian protagonists, or play the antagonist who ultimately loses to a Caucasian protagonist. Asians are also shown as cowardly and impotent in the face of danger. In action movies, Asian characters serve as cannon fodder and are the first to die.
They often willingly sacrifice themselves so that the Caucasian protagonist may live, which is an insidious way of suggesting that Asian life is not as valuable as white life or, more cynically, of asserting that the only good Asian is a dead Asian.
In knock-down-drag-out fights they lose to whites (or blacks), who not only can do it better in terms of martial arts, but ultimately have the winning qualities that Asians supposedly lack: superior morals and endurance.
When Asians are cast as being “on the same team,” they are usually faceless, unassertive conformists—often assistants and analysts—never leaders or trendsetters.
Perhaps most malignant of all, are the countless movies in which Asians serve as mere backdrops to the “bigger” story at hand, where Asian contributions are swept aside to highlight the achievements of the “real heroes.” Pearl Habor tells the story of Doolittle's daring payback raid on Japan during WW2 and how the pilots deliberately crashlanded in China, assuming correctly that the populace would help them to safety. However, the quarter-of-a-million Chinese civilians who either unwittingly died or willingly scarificed themselves as a consequence of sheltering the few dozen American aircrews and bringing nearly all of them them to safety are never mentioned in the ending credits.
The Asian Mystic from the “mysterious Orient” is an oft-recurring theme, in which Asians are portrayed as otherworldly, mysterious and spiritual, and take the form of a mystical sage who possess ancient wisdom and mystical powers, such as Pai Mei in Kill Bill, The Golden ChildBulletproof Monk or the Chinese lady in What Women Want. However, Chinese “wisdom” is also reduced to fortune-cookie clichés.
“Asian” is often employed as a quick, convenient and exclusive explanation for the magical or supernatural. In various renditions of The
Shadow, the hero’s special powers are said to originate from “the mysterious East”—no other explanation is necessary. In Alice, an elixir purchased from an Asian herbalist carries magical powers.
Asian characters are also cast as being mysterious to the point of inscrutable and devious (see Bizarre/Unfathomable stereotype), which ties in neatly with the Asian Archivillan stereotype (see below).
The Asian Mystic stereotype is also frequently combined with the Asian Archvillain stereotype. This is epitomized in Fu Manchu, who embodies both the archvillain and mystic, and portrays the evil Asian with supernatural powers. Recent usage of this underworld stereotype includes The
Shadow, in which a Caucasian actor in yellowface embodies
the anti-American archvillain who has hypnotic eyes and uses telepathy to control minds.
8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or Yellow Peril
The Asian Archvillain is an extension of the Yellow Peril and Yellow Horde themes. Asians who are not characterized as benevolent or belongning to the faceless, conformist model minority, are paradoxically depicted as ruthless criminals, triad members and unscrupulous archvillains. Chinatowns are shown as breeding grounds of crime and underworld activity.
The Predator Asian remains a popular media theme. Asian immigrants are shown as taking from the country without giving anything back. In Falling Down, the white protagonist accuses a Korean grocer of draining American resources without bothering to fit into American society, which is subsequently used as justification for the destruction of the Korean’s grocery store. In Rising Sun, Japanese businessmen are shown as taking over American industry by murder and deceit.
The ultimate Asian “underworld” stereotype incorporates both meanings of the word: 1) organized crime and 2) the mythical abode of the dead. See above section on the Asian Mystic stereotype.
By the 1970s, the civil rights era had redefined how minorities should be portrayed on film. It was considered taboo for white actors to employ blackface to play the part of African savages (as in Tarzan). However, the same sensibilities were not applied to yellowface. A major precedent was set when Warner Brothers rejected Bruce Lee in favor of Caucasian actor, David Carradine, to play the lead character in the television series Kung Fu—a story about a Chinese orphan, which Lee himself had developed and presented to the producers.
Asians continue to be depicted as cone-hatted coolies scampering about in small steps in commercials and movies such as Down with Love (2003). They are also shown to be unfathomable, inscrutable and to subscribe to bizarre traditions and superstitions. Movies based on the concept of Asian otherness and outlandishness in stark contrast to all things sensible, wholesome and American or Western, include Lost In Translation (2003), in which the Japanese are never afforded a “shred of dignity” and the entire comedic content is derived from Westerners laughing at “small, yellow people and their funny ways.”
The Asian bufoon continues to be featured in sitcoms such as 2 Broke Girls, in which the character of Han Lee is a fairly agressive portrayal of the stereotypical Asian male: a tiny, greedy, sexless man-child with infantilized speech patterns, speaking broken English with a generic Asian accent, fulfilling basically every possible ching-chong stereotype.
10. Willing/Deserving targets of open denigration
In the movies, Asians are frequently subjected to open slurs and discrimination, and either potrayed as deserving of or highly tolerant towards such treatment. These scripts and scenes are often so completely inconsequential to the storyline that the only plausible explanation for their incorporation into the final edit is that it must be of great importance that Hollywood consistently remind audiences that it's perfectly acceptable to take a dig at Asians.
It could be argued that art imitates life or that life imitates art, but many an Asian born in and/or living in West will attest to the fact their real-life day-to-day interactions are really no different, thanks to Hollywood.
Asians in the West are expected to accept patronizing remarks and racist taunts so demeaning that perpetrators would think twice before dishing them out with such unwavering consistency to any other minority group, such as Latinos or African Americans. Asians who object to such treatment are typically met with befuddlement and offense at their audacity to make an issue out of it. Adverse reactions are, after all, a far cry from traditional media depictions of Asians as kowtowing in the face of denigration, such as in the character of Charlie Chan.
Asians constitute nearly 5% of the US population—one out of every twenty US citizens is of Asian descent, many of whom are fully acculturated “Americans.” Yet, “Asian” continues to be equated with “foreign,” and associated with a range of negative stereotypes.
Hollywood scripts continue to feature open discrimination against Asians. Yellowface and caricatured portrayals are on the increase in 2013, and increasing numbers of actors are receiving accolades and prestigious nominations and awards for these demeaning performances.
Open denigration and racial slurs continue to be shown as the norm and Asians are portrayed as being accepting of such treatment.
Hollywood is yet to cast an Asian male in a lead role that is not linked to his status as a foreigner or martial artist. Although Lucy Liu was cast in a leading role in Charlie's Angels, she was portrayed as having a Caucasian father, and she continued to fulfill all the sexual stereotypes assigned to Asian females.
Asian American actors are yet to be cast in a lead role that is not related to their ethnicity—a storyline that would work regardless of their ethnicity and which does not feature an explanation about their ethnicity—Asians should not be required to justify their presence in the West.
Although there has been a slight improvement in the trend in the past two years, Hollywood and the media have a long way to go toward being reasonable in their characterization of Asians—a complete overhaul would be in order. Hollywood and the media must assume responsibility for the real-life consequences of their collective negative portrayals of Asians.
Asians in Western media do not resemble Asians in real life. The immense popularity of PSY's Gangnam Style may in part be due to the widespread acceptance of a comedic Asian male who is “buffoonish, desexualized and emasculated” in a “pop-cultural milieu where Asian men are either kung-fu fighters, Confucius-quoting clairvoyants, or the biggest geeks in high school.”
Repetitive advertising increases market share and has an impact on brand awareness in the general public. Similarly, when stereotyped themes and imagery are shown repeatedly, whether overtly or subliminally, they increase the general public's cognitive investment in the stereotype. Stereotypes are false or misleading generalizations about groups held in a manner that renders them largely, though not entirely, immune to counter-evidence. Stereotypes have a homogenizing effect and powerfully shape the perception of stereotyped groups, causing stereotypic characteristics to be “seen” even when they are not present, and the failure to see evidence to the contrary, when such evidence is present.
—Stereotypes And Stereotyping: A Moral Analysis, by Lawrence Blum, Philosophical Papers Vol. 33, No.3 (Nov. 2004): p. 251-289,
In 1995, the federal Glass Ceiling Commission found that Asian Americans make less money than whites in many occupational categories--even after controlling for educational level, immigrant status and other variables. In strict social-science terms, the data is robust: Asian Americans and whites are not treated equally and the difference can be attributed either to race or nothing at all.
A Longitudinal Test and a Qualitative Field Study of the Glass Ceiling Effect for Asian Americans—Chen, Tina T. (Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University) (May 2004)
The handful of movies and TV shows (typically not Hollywood or mainstream American productions) that are an exception to the rule, which portray an Asian male as having consummated a relationship with a Caucasian female, include:
i) The One — Directed by James Wong, the movie's main character, YuLaw (Jet Li), has a Caucasian wife, but he is not portrayed in a sexual light (no bedroom scenes) normally accorded to other Caucasian male actors.
ii) The Ballad of Little Jo  — The true story of a
society woman who attempted to escape the stigma of bearing a child out of wedlock in the late 18oos by going out West and living disguised as a man. The historical movie adheres to the truth about the secret romance that developed between her and a Chinese outcast named Tinman Wong, who figured out she was actually a woman.
iii)Mao's Last Dancer — Australian (non-Hollywood) movie based on the autobiography of the same name, written by Li Cunxin. Probably due to the author's direct influence and moral rights, ensuring strict adherence to his account of the story, the movie faithfully re-enacts his relationships with and desirability by at least two Caucasian women in his life, both of whom he eventually married.
iv) The Mentalist  — Although Detective Kimberly Cho fills the traditional role of sidekick and model-minority citizen who quietly goes about his business serving and supporting the Caucasians who lead and solve the crimes, Cho is also shown as having a relationship with a Caucasian woman, albeit one who is a messed-up hooker, and they eventually break up. Cho is also emotionally stunted to some degree and is inscrutable — still fitting neatly within stereotypes of Asians.
v) Ramen girl — the story alludes to (no actual bedroom scenes normally afforded to Caucasian actors) a Japanese man as being romantically desirable and as having consumated a relationship with a Caucasian woman living in Japan.
vi) Shanghai Kiss — One of the only US (non-Hollywood production) movies in which an Asian male is portrayed as sexually desirable and consummating a relationship with a Caucasian female—an act that is not only alluded to, but displayed onscreen. Ken Leung plays the part of an unssuccessful Chinese American actor dwelling in Los Angeles, who is sexually desirable and successful at one-night stands, but who has relationship phobias and unwittingly gets (nonsexually) involved with an underaged high school girl. Although the movie sets the tone for confronting Asian male stereotypes, it subsequently fails in these aspects, rendering its message unclear, by in fact perpetuating the stereotypes.
vii) Rising Sun — Although a Japanese man is shown as having sex with a Caucasian woman, he is a seedy character who is the epitome of the devouring Yellow Peril Yakuza Asian, and she is a professional escort a.k.a. high-end prostitute, whom the Japanese regard as “a woman of no importance.” Their sex involves autoerotic asphyxia, which initially seems to result in her death. The movie highlights the dagerous and ilicit nature of an Asian men having sexual relations with a Caucasian woman.
NOTE: Many films produced by Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa in the silent-movie era portrayd an Asian male as sexually attractive. In the early 1900s era, Hayakawa, who was tired of typecasting, borrowed US$ 1 million to a production company. He subsequently a controlled content, produced, starred in, directed, and contributed to the design, writing, and editing of the films which were highly influential in the American public's perception of Asians. Hayakawa refused to adopt negative stereotypes and abandoned Hollywood for European cinema, where he was treated equally. However, it should also be noted that Hayakawa was, at most, playing a romance object — not a sex object. Hayakawa's popularity, romantic appeal and extravagant lifestyle fed tension within segments of American society and resulted in a backlash of discriminatory stereotypes and the desexualization of Asian men in American productions—something lingers on in modern-day Hollywood.
“For Asian men, the discourse of domination focused largely on the 'feminine' East opposed to the 'masculine' West. Historic projects that have hindered Asian American family formations and excluded Asian men from the 'masculinized' labor market of the West, have simultaneously produced an image of Asian men that has both racial and gendered implications… Moreover, popular media portrayals further emasculated Asian and Asian American men until… at their best, effeminate closet queens like Charlie Chan and, at their worst, [were] homosexual menaces like Fu Manchu… Given this tendency to view Asian men through the prism of femininity.” [Geisha of a Different Kind: Gay Asian Men and the Gendering of Sexual Identity—Chong-suk Han, 2006]
"We've been portrayed as inscrutable villains and asexualized eunuchs. Even Jackie Chan in his movies rarely gets to kiss his female lead."—Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who played at least fifty roles on television and had never gotten to kiss a woman on-screen until the ABC TV series, Lost.
Social relations in post-industrial societies are both gendered and racialised, and gendered identities are negotiated as part of a larger sociocultural framework that reproduces beliefs about racism, sexism, gender roles and the relationships between genders and racial groups (Parker, 2004).
In Western societies, the intersection of race and gender inequality creates certain structures that result in racial oppression that is gendered, and gender oppression that is racialised, in a process of gendered racism by which Asian females are made available to white males while also reaffirming the dominant position of white heterosexual masculinity This process is perpetuated by the mainstream media, where the schema of gendered racism is promoted and produced. Exaggerated stereotypes of Asian females such as hypersexuality, sexual availability and submissiveness, serve to perpetuate these racialised gendered roles placed upon women of Asian descent in Western societies (Pyke, 2004).
Various dating sites deal with the subject of the difficulty of Asian males finding acceptance among Caucasians, for example: Dating 101: Dealing with the Race Factor [web archive: last accessed Feb 2010]. Other data suggests the absence of a prevailing preference by Asian females for Asian male partners. There is much to indicate that the descrepancy in intermarriage figures between Asian males and Asian females arises primarily from the lack of acceptance of Asian males, and that the high figures for Asian male-female pairing does not necessarily arise a prevaling preference of Asian females for Asian males.
21  Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable6. Inferior/Subordinate Although it is based on a true story of the MIT Blackjack Team that mainly comprised Asian Americans, including the protagonist, Jeff Ma, nearly everyone in the main cast was Caucasian. The casting of all-white actors led to a public outcry. The only Asian actors within the main cast, Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira, were negatively portrayed as a kleptomaniac and a slot-playing loser.
Asian jokes abound: about the inability of Asians to handle criticism, about their committing suicide if they get anything short of an “A,” about all Koreans being miniature in stature, etc.
In one episode, an Asian male web designer is shown as sexually attractive and speaking without an accent. Although he consummates a sexual relationship with the Caroline character, he is ultimately a geek and unsuitable boyfriend material for the white Caroline--totally in line with unsanctioned Asian-male-white-female relationships. On the other hand, in season 4 episode 8, a Caucasian at a bar casually says he’s “into Asian chicks,” which is shown as acceptable (in fact the response is, “Yeah, who isn’t? Except for Asian guys.”) -- totally in line with sanctioned Caucasian-male-Asian-female relationships. (Refer to gendered-racism stereotype)
Tim Goodman of Hollywood Reporter probably put it best: “Every time Han gets to say something on 2 Broke Girls, the undercurrent is that it’s funny because it’s broken English. Plus he’s really short and geeky and non-sexual... What CBS is doing every Monday night is trotting out one of the most regressive and stunning racist devices a network has produced in five or more seasons.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Jon Turteltaub ... Cast: Michael Treanor, Max Elliot Slade, Chad Power, Victor Wong ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts4. Nerd/Geek7. Mystic9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Three white kids, born of a white mother and father, spend their summers with their stereotypically crotchety old Japanese grandfather who teaches them martial arts. Audiences are expected to believe that “Tum Tum” is a real ninja name.
After MASH  Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling Klinger’s wife Soon-Lee plays the Asian War Bride, the ideal companion to white American males who prefer “traditional” women untainted by such quaint notions as gender equality. Like its predecessor, MASH, After MASH exploits the historical experience of Asians caught in the vise of American militarism by implying that their lives have actually been bettered by the invasion, occupation and destruction of their native countries.
Alias (TV series)  Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate In Season One, a recurring character, the “Taiwanese Torturer” played by Ric Young, ends up crying like a baby, while a younger white female (Sydney) is shown to have a higher tolerance for pain.
Cast: Magaret Cho ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The series is an extremely Orientalized portrayal of an Asian American family. One of the clearest examples is the voice of Margaret’s mother, Katherine Kim. Jodi Long, the actress who plays Mrs. Kim, has no accent of her own, yet in the show, her “Asian” accent is exaggerated to the point of coming across as a farce. The script furthered a stereotypical view of Asian Americans, such as Grandma Kim’s (Amy Hill) pet cricket, the family’s favorite restaurant, the “Happy Lucky Golden Dragon,” and lines such as “May you have the joy that comes from serving your husband” and “[We are] bound together by the vine of community.” The stereotype of the Asian American model minority is perpetuated in Margaret’s older brother, Stuart, the overachiever whose life comes crumbling down as he anticipates the disappointment he has caused his parents after his blunder at work.
The All-American Girl series was an attempt to celebrate the Americanization of Asians by utilizing the fact that the majority of Americans still find humor in people of Asian descent having American mannerisms. The jokes and gags were spun from this concept, with the title itself supporting the “irony” that Asians could be all-American at all. However, the fact that the concept of Americanized Asians is considered ludicrous implies that it is not socially accepted. As a result, audiences did not really invest in the characters, because they were not derived from accepted social constructs. All-American Girl went off the air after one season of poor ratings.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Marc Webb, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci ... Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner A small scene embedded in the movie shows an older Asian man and his daughter thanking Spiderman for rescuing them from being pummeled by a bus in Chinese. Just a small reminder to audiences that the Chinese are non-American and don’t speak English. Completely inconsequential to the storyline, of course.
American Shaolin Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate An American named Drew (Reese Madigan) loses to his nemesis Trevor (Trent Bushey) in a martial art tournament in America. Drew’s teacher later tells him that he really wasn’t a genuine Shaolin monk, so he hadn’t really taught him any “real martial arts.” Drew journeys to China to become a bona fide Shaolin monk. Miraculously, he is let inside the Shaolin monastery with the help of his future teacher, Kim Chan, and a pretty Chinese girl, Alice Zhang. Drew eventually goes to a tournament with his buddy Gao (Daniel Dae Kim), where he meets up with his nemesis, Trevor, once again. Trevor severely wounds Gao. Drew is forced to “avenge” his friend, Gao, who was incapable of winning. Drew wins the fight over Trevor, proving that white Americans are ultimately better than the Chinese at using ancient Chinese combat training, including those who’ve had a lifetime of training in it.
American Virgin Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate Ed Curtzman to Virgin: “You little bitch. I’m gonna take those videos, and this time tomorrow, you’re gonna be all over the world. Young teenage boys are gonna wake up in the morning and see your boobies. Little boys in Taiwan are gonna be lookin’ at them and they’re gonna be doing this to it.” [Makes mock Chinese face and grunting mock “Chinese” words while making masturbation movements with hand]. “They’re gonna use you as their screen saver.” The premise is that the worst imaginable thing that will happen to her is that Chinese boys, of all people, are masturbating to her.
Cast: Viggo Mortensen ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek An FBI agent (Viggo Mortensen) infiltrates the Japanese Yakuza. After a minor “test,” they let him into their circle and he goes through an initiation ceremony to become “Yakuza.” Later, one of his friends discovers that he has taken a liking to the Yakuza lifestyle and wonders how he had let the evil Japanese pull the wool over his eyes. The Japanese mob is at war with the Italian mob, which culminates in a major battle that leaves every single Japanese gangster dead, including Viggo’s Japanese love interest. Viggo survives the whole incident and the Italian mob comes out on top.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Tommy Flanagan ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The Huns, an ethnic group traditionally known by majority scientific and historical accounts to have looked physically mongoloid were portrayed as Caucasian in the miniseries except for Bleda (Attila’s brother) where his portrayer used yellowface makeup to appear East Asian. Attila the Hun, is played by a white actor to make the character more palatable for western audiences. In contrast to the Huns being Asians with little body hair, actor Gerard Butler is a brown-haired Caucasian with gray eyes and body hair. Attila as a boy, is portrayed as a Nordic blond with gray eyes, with whom women fall in love at first sight.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Adam Shankman ... Cast: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner In the movie’s only scene featuring an Asian woman with a speaking role, she is, as usual, required to put on an accent to reinforce the idea that Asians are perpetual foreigners or fresh-off-the-boat immigrants, never fully acculturated or rightful US-born Americans.
Sheldon is convinced that a Chinese restaurant he patronizes is passing off oranges for tangerines in their recipe and learns Mandarin in order to confront the owner (who has already said in another episode that he is from San Francisco). Leonard tells him he should be more concerned about what they are passing off as chicken. Whether or not the insinuation is that Chinese restaurants serve dog meat, the unmistakable implication is that Chinese restaurants are deceitful. Later on, Sheldon walks into a cafeteria and sees two East Asian students at a table and speaks to them in Mandarin, assuming it is their language (and not Korean/Japanese/etc.), assuming that they will understand it and appreciate his patronization. Asians are portrayed as foreigners by default and the assumption is that English cannot possibly be their mother tongue.
Sheldon’s mother says about the smiley she carved into his grilled cheese sandwich: “His eyes came out a little thin but you can just pretend he’s Chinese.”
Sheldon remarks about ordering a pizza by phone from a certain Luigi’s Pizzeria, that “Luigi” sounds suspiciously like a Chinese man: “On Thursdays, everybody comes over here and has pizza—or a reasonable facsimile prepared by someone claiming to be Luigi but who sounds suspiciously like Jacky Chan.” The authenticity of the pizza is called into question, the implication being that the Chinese are deceitful fakers/imitators who are incapable of making genuine pizzas (which can only be made by Italians), who habitually try to pass themselves off as Westerners; furthermore, they are usurpers who would lose business if they were ever found out. The point is hammered home when Sheldon later comments about Raj having cooked a Tex-Mex meal: “Indians and Tex-Mex?! We might as well have Chinese pizza!”
An older Asian man in dance hall cops a feel of Penny’s ass while dancing.
Leonard has a relationship with an Asian girl, who turns out to be a North Korean spy who was trying to steal information about a top secret project he was assigned to.
Sheldon: “Try this one for an ice breaker: Despite popular lore, there is no place in the continental US or Alaska or Hawaii, from which one can dig straight through the center of the earth and come up in China.” The vastness and diversity of Asia is reduced to China: “Amy’s taking me to a memorial service. It’s for one of her colleagues who’s of Asian descent. My planned conversational gambit is to casually remark that no matter how deep they dig his grave, he’ll never make his way back to China.”
Sheldon: In the words of my mother, “The Asians are an inscrutable folk.”
Leonard makes up an excuse for Penny using the DVR to record: “Maybe we were hacked. You know, the Chinese have been hacking everything lately.” Sheldon’s reply is to ask with incredulity, “Why would the Chinese make our DVR record [an all-American show]?”
In Season 8 episode 12, the closing scene shows Sheldon making a cone hat out of straw and calling it a Chinese war helmet from the 1600s and wearing it proudly.
In season eight, the character of Raj plays up on the Asian martial arts stereotype. He asserts that it’s never good to pick a fight with an Asian (overlooking the fact that he is in fact a fellow-Asian from India), because they probably all know karate. He also claims that when “the bullies at Bruce Lee’s school thought [that he didn’t have such an ability], then Bam! Karate!” The script writer (Chuck Lorre) must have enjoyed muddling kungfu (Bruce Lee’s Chinese art) with karate (traditionally a Japanese art and not Bruce Lee’s), reducing the vastness and diversity of Asia into a homogeneous and generic entity.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Frank R. Capra, Grace Zaring Stone, Edward E. Paramore Jr. ... Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The movie was a flop, which the film’s female star, Barbara Stanwyck, blamed on a “racist backlash”. “The women’s clubs came out very strongly against it” The generally sympathetic portrayal of miscegenation proved to be particularly unpalatable at the time. The sexuality is palpably conveyed, with Stanwyck appearing in several costumes that were quite revealing for the time. In one scene, she is dreaming and succumbs to Yen, who she first imagines as a Fu Manchu-type rapist with long tapering nails, but who then transforms into a gentle, courtly suitor. The New York Times described the film as “barely plausible.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Kenya Barris ... Cast: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration An Asian girl is asked about the corporal punishment of children in China and she explains that she grew up in the US but is Korean. Once again, the Asian is made to explain that he/she is not from America, but from somewhere else. No one else in the room is made to explain that they are in fact African or Italian, etc. However, the Asian is expected to. If this is an attempt at confronting the idiocy of assumptions made about Asians, it fails miserably. All it accomplishes is to perpetuate the pattern of “you Asians all look alike” jokes and Asians aren’t American. The punch line of the scene is that she is still referenced to as being from China after explaining that she is “Korean,” because nobody really cares.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Hart Hanson ... Cast: Michaela Conlin ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The usual Asian female lab assistant (Michaela Conlin is of Irish-Chinese descent) in a relationship with a Caucasian male. How about featuring an Asian male consummating a relationship with a white female for a change? Throw in some body contact and bedroom scenes normally afforded white males while you’re at it.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Ramaa Mosley ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority7. Mystic9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable A Chinese man shows up claiming to be the guardian of a mysterious magical teapot. No explanation is needed for how or why he inherited guardianship of the teapot, which has an extensive and traceable history of existence throughout Europe. The fact that he is Chinese suffices as an explanation for his claim to wisdom and mysticism. Naturally, he is also a foreigner who speaks poor English. The movie further rubs home the inherent foreignness of the Chinese with a closing scene, where cone-hatted coolies walk about on a ship.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Blake Edwards ... Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Epsen, Martin Balsam, Mickey Rooney, Alan Reed ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Mickey Rooney wore makeup and prosthetics to change his features to a caricatured approximation of a Japanese person, to portray the character of Mr. Yunioshi, Holly’s bucktoothed, bumbling, annoying, stereotyped Japanese neighbor. The character of Mr. Yunioshi is inconsequential to the plot, but is included to serve no other purpose than to portray a negative stereotype.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: D.W. Griffith, Thomas Burke, ... Cast: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate If you find the title offensive, it’s worth noting that the Thomas Burke Limehouse Nights short story on which it is based, is titled The Chink and the Child. The main Chinese male character who is only ever referred to as the “Yellow Man,” leaves his native China to spread the gentle message of Buddha to Anglo-Saxon lands, which results in his opening a shop in Limehouse (Liverpool, England) and smoking opium when he’s depressed. The only other noteworthy Chinese character is given the moniker, Evil Eye, and played by a Caucasian in yellowface. The script includes lines such as, “What makes you so good to me, Chinky?”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Walter Hill, Alessandro Camon (screenplay), Alexis Nolent ... Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The character of Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) takes continual racial digs at detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang). When Bobo patronizes Kwon about admiring his “samurai” heroics, Kwon explains that he is Korean, not Japanese. If the intention of the script was to highlight and confront the foolishness of stereotypes, all it accomplished was miss the point entirely. All it demonstrated, was that it is perfectly acceptable for the white protagonist (Stallone) to act racist and that the Asian is to be tolerant and appeasing at all times, and explain that he is in fact Korean. In case you missed it, the Asian was made to gracefully explain himself as being something else other than American--why is Bobo’s (Stallone) Americanness unquestioned and why is he not made to explain admit that he is in fact Italian?
As usual, the Asian is nothing more than a sidekick who tries to do good but just doesn’t get it right and is always a step behind. He needs rescuing by the white man who, despite being a hired killer, knows more about right and wrong and the ways of the world than the naive Asian. In fact, in a conversation in the car, the Asian compensates for his lacks by blowing his own trumpet about his own abilities, right up to the point he is called out on his bragging by the white man, who is far superior at everything.
At the end of the movie, Kwon is alluded to having developed a relationship with Bobo’s Caucasian daughter. It’s unclear whether he really gets the girl and absolutely nothing sexual is implied about the relationship. In fact, any Caucasian or even African American actor in the same role would typically be shown at least kissing or waking up in bed with the girl--just not the Asian. If the script was intended or touted as some kind of reversal of the stereotypes imposed on an Asian characters, that would be quite laughable.
Cast: Kim Bassinger ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable A mother (Kim Basinger) and her son are kidnapped, and the mother manages to contact someone randomly using a broken phone. During her conversation with her would-be savior, one of their phones randomly dials to a public phone, where an Asian guy (Dat Phan) picks it up and speaks in broken English. The Asian has a hair-trigger temper and responds hysterically to everything said due to his all-round poor comprehension of basic English. The scene has no relevance to the plot other than for cheap laughs.
In an earlier scene, the would-be savior is on the way to try to pick up the woman’s son from his school before he is kidnapped, but is slowed down on the highway by an Asian couple driving too slowly while looking at a map—the Asian tourist stereotype. Both of these scenes are completely irrelevant to the storyline.
Cast: Freja Beha, Baptiste Giabiconi ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Karl Lagerfeld Opened His Pre-Fall Show in Shanghai With a Film That Included Yellow Face. Lagerfeld defended this as a “homage to Europeans trying to look Chinese.” “Like in ‘The Good Earth,’ the people in the movie liked the idea that they had to look like Chinese. Or like actors in ‘Madame Butterfly.’ People around the world like to dress up as different nationalities.” “It is about the idea of China, not the reality.” Chinese persons played the maid, a courtesan and background characters.
Cast: Peter Ustinov ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril7. Mystic In 1980, Jerry Shylock proposed a multi-million dollar comedy film, to be called “Charlie Chan and the Dragon Lady.” A group calling itself C.A.N. (Coalition of Asians to Nix) was formed, protesting the fact that two white actors, Peter Ustinov and Angie Dickinson, had been cast in the primary roles. Others protested that the film itself contained a number of stereotypes; Shylock responded that the film was not a documentary. The film was released the following year as Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and was an “abysmal failure.” It was replete with yellowface, subservient and appeasing Charlie Chan speaking broken English. More successful was Wayne Wang’s Chan is Missing (1982), which was a spoof of the older Chan films. An updated film version of the character was planned in the 1990s by Miramax; this new Charlie Chan was to be “hip, slim, cerebral, sexy and ... a martial-arts master,” but the film did not come to fruition.
Cast: Arnold Schwazenneger ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The character Subotai is a ‘Hyrkanian’ who in the mythos of Conan the Barbarian are the ancestors of Asians and further the character is named after Subotai one of the general so Genghis Khan, but the character however is played by the white actor Gerry Lopez.
The movie also takes considerable liberties on historical fact and is highly inaccurate, reinforcing and capitalizing on the yellow peril theme. Ironic, as “yellow peril” and “yellow menace” are terms that were coined in reference to the Mongolian invasion of Europe.
The (historically inaccurate) plot revolves around (the young Genghis Khan) Temujin’s obsession with Bortai, a Tartar princess whom he captures from a Merkit warlord and humiliates, then slays. Bortai was in fact the name of Temujin’s real-life wife, but she was a Mongol and they were betrothed aged 9 and 10. However, in this (historically inaccurate) story, he abducts her and manhandles her roughly whilst declaring “Woman, I take you for wife”. She professes hatred for him but quivers and swoons every time he comes near her, succumbs to his roughhouse seduction techniques and later decides she loves him so much she betrays her father and her own people to him. At one point, when she briefly resists him he even gives her a smack in the face.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Simon Barry ... Cast: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril6. Inferior/Subordinate Although none of the Asians are assigned bad-English and foreigner-by-default roles, the very first Asian actor to appear fulfills the Archvillain and cannon-fodder stereotypes -- a psychopathic killer with military training and pugilistic skills. Although he belongs to the bad-guy team, even the bad guys don’t know where they really have him. He ultimately betrays them in an attempt to seize leadership of the criminal gang, but as usual, being Asian and despite his immense fighting skills, is defeated and killed early on in the series, by a Caucasian protagonist who utilizes sheer endurance to win a knock-down-drag-out fight. The next Asian with a major role to appear in the series is a corporate man, who masquerades as a faithful employee, only to betray his CEO. Once again, the Asian is the Archvillain, only this time, he is the inscrutable and expertly deceitful corporate crook who sells out his own CEO.
The recurring character of Betty, is an Asian-looking (Japanese-English in real life) computer hacker (read “nerd”) who is attracted to the Caucasian Carlos. She dutifully assists the protagonists (fulfilling the side-kick and lab assistant stereotypes) and turns out to be traitorous and secretly affiliated with the enemy.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Jon Amiel ... Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The movie invests several scenes that last several minutes just to show a police station overflowing with non-English-speaking Chinese immigrants and/or illegals. None of the Asians happen to be acculturated Americans -- they are all foreigners and/or criminals. And they are all in a frenzy and causing pandemonium in the station with their incessant blabbering and yelling Chinese. One of them ends up holding a police officer hostage and killing him. Featuring the Chinese as troublemakers is reminiscent of yellow peril and completely nonessential to the plot.
Cast: Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Hollywood never fails to slip in the digs, to reinforce the Asian as foreigner, usurper, the one with less than solid credentials to be an all American. The character of Simon (played by Robin Williams) refers to two different people called Brad in a single sentence, as “Brad and Asian Brad,” insinuating once again that the Asian is the outsider. The default “Brad” cannot be Asian, but rather the Asian is the “other.” Why not say, “Brad and Caucasian Brad?” Or imagine the uproar that would have ensued among African Americans, had it been, “Brad and black Brad.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Scott Derrickson, David Scarpa, Edmund H. North ... Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, James Hong ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Two aliens, played by Keanu Reeves and James Hong, have a chat in a restaurant in Chinese. In case you missed it, Chinese = aliens. And if you think this is reading too far into the insinuation, think again. It isn't the first time that aliens/Chinese have been interchangeable in Hollywood. In Men in Black, for example, the port for all the bizarre aliens coming and going from planet earth has airport-style announcements in the background -- in Chinese. You'll find many more such example of Chinese = aliens in Hollywood.
Rachel Grant, a Filipino-born English actress with some Caucasian features, is passed off as a Chinese agent by the name of Peaceful Fountains of Desire, fulfilling the stereotype of sexually available Asian females.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Spike Lee ... Cast: Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Although the movie is supposedly about exposing racial tensions and making a point about racism between various groups -- Italian Americans vs. Black Americans vs. Hispanic Americans vs. Asian Americans, etc., the Asian-blooded actor, Steven Parks is cast as a blatant caricature, unlike all the other characters in the plot. Although he speaks perfect English in real life, he had to put on a strong non-English-speaker accent for the role. It is a crying shame that even when a movie is trying to make a point about racism, director Spike Lee made the actor sound like a fresh-of-the-boat immigrant, as a way of reinforcing the “inassimilable Asian” stereotype. It’s no wonder that Asians in the western hemisphere suffer from perpetual-foreigner syndrome.
Down With Love Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable In the only scene where Asians are depicted, two women scamper in little steps towards each other in front of a huge portrait of Mao, and clandestinely exchange a book, which they pull out of their huge rattan cone hats, which incidentally, are decorative items that even Chinese farmers would never wear.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: James Wong ... Cast: Justin Chatwin, Emmy Rossum, Chow Yun-fat, Jamie Chung, James Marsters, Joon Park, Ernie Hudson ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Although the original Dragon Ball series originated in Japan, the main cast was almost entirely Caucasian, which led to an outcry. The only Asian actors in the film were secondary characters. The original creator of the Dragon Ball series, Akira Toriyama, was shocked. Luke Thompson of E! Online referred to the film as a “surreal mess” and questioned the use of a Caucasian in the main role and felt Chow Yun-Fat was “overacting like never before.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Danny Leiner, Philip Stark ... Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration A small scene features the two main characters trying to order Chinese food via a drive-in booth, as they are served by someone with a thick Asian accent who doesn’t comprehend their English and keeps asking, “And then?” when they’ve explained that their order is complete. The frustrated pair smash the intercom system. Again, the scene is inconsequential to the storyline and serves only to highlight insurmountable language obstacles with the Chinese, who are supposedly either incapable of being fully acculturated English speakers, or fake the language barrier just to trick people into spending more of their money.
Reminiscent of Sixteen Candles, a gong sounds whenever the sign for a Chinese takeaway appears onscreen.
The main characters also speak in mock Japanese and mock bowing Japanese customs while a gong sounds in the background.
There is also a scene where the duo stands on a sidewalk and are tricked into coming entering a store run by a shady Chinese tailor who speaks with English with an accent, and who when angry, yells in Chinese.
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate In the movie’s only depiction of an Asian, he is a lab assistant who dutifully carries out his orders to execute a technical assignment that will kill the protagonist, Matt Damon. He is also weak and quickly divulges information when knocked about just a little, in comparison with the violence perpetrated on other Caucasians, who seem to have an immense tolerance for pain.
Expatriate, The Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate The female lab assistant Mei Ling is of Asian descent, speaks poor English, is later killed and is the first body to be examined at the morgue. Although the movie features several French-speaking lines/roles by Caucasians and Arabs and takes place mostly in Brussels, Mei Ling is not portrayed as being a fluent French or English speaker of Asian descent, but is used to represent the model-minority foreigner-by-default stereotype, because apparently, people of Asian descent cannot possibly be acculturated Europeans.
Eyes Wide Shut Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate6. Inferior/Subordinate Two Asian men are caught with the Rainbow Fashions store owner’s daughter. When one of them is found hiding in a wardrobe, he giggles like a woman and like a child, says he “can explain everything.” The father yells that his daughter is underage. Both Asians are bizarrely covered in white powder, wearing makeup and a wig. They don’t understand it when the father is outraged, saying it is “preposterous” (a favorite “big” word that Asians are frequently scripted to use in Hollywood) and justify their right to be there, insisting that the young lady had invited them (despite her being underage) They shrink submissively as the father yells and smacks with the garments lying around. The girl is saved from the Asian men, who are rendered helpless and impotent from being locked in a room with glass walls.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Fred Schepisi, Robert Young, John Cleese, Iain Johnstone ... Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration References are made to cheap Chinese goods and “Japs.”
Cast: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling Although the story is based on the life of a second-generation Taiwanese immigrant, Eddie Huang, and although the setting is progressive in terms of presenting Asian American children born in the US as acculturated, Fresh Off The Boat still caters to the demand by mainstream America that Asians justify their origins. Full explanations are offered regarding their background, and links and references to their immigration status are presented in every episode. The parents, chasing the American dream, are shown as speaking with accents, despite having moved to the US for decades. The Chinese are shown as adhering to old incontestable superstitions. Another stereotypical depiction is that of an Asian man safely paired with an Asian woman (and not a Caucasian, for example). They are shown as model-minority citizens, neurotic achievers, socially awkward, science geeks and so forth.
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling2. Martial arts9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate In this long-running series featuring an all-white middle-class group of life-long friends, the only Asian to make a recurring appearance on the TV show is Lauren Tom, who plays the character of Ross’ girlfriend, Julie, whom he meets in China. The allusion and unspoken explanation for her existence in America is that she is Chinese and “not really American.” She is not, for example, presented as an all-American girl who hails from New York like most of the other supporting characters in the series. As usual, Asian females are coupled with Caucasian males, but never Caucasian females with Asian males. For example, no Asian male is shown as coupling with any of the female characters: Rachel, Monica or Phoebe.
In another episode, Monica’s boyfriend Pete Becker is trained in ultimate street fighting by an Asian trainer with pugilistic skills, who speaks in heavily accented English, using stereotypical terms associated with Asians, such as “boom-boom” in reference to sex. The same episode also features a model-minority Asian office colleague to Chandler, who is envious of the slaps on the butt that Chandler frequently gets, as the boss’ favorite.
From Paris with Love Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate The movie employs a range stereotypes defined by cultural oversimplifications. Asians are nameless, disposable gunmen. Eastern Europeans have monopolized the sex-trafficking business. Every Arab immigrant is a secret terrorist and no black Parisian appears outside the city’s slums. The Chinese are gangsters and restaurant workers, with a low tolerance for pain. Even Asians who supposedly can’t speak Chinese have a heavy Chinese accent when speaking.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Jon M. Chu ... Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Jonathan Pryce, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner2. Martial arts7. Mystic8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril6. Inferior/Subordinate Asian males are, as usual, inseparable from martial arts and are foreigners by default. On the other hand, Westerner heroes have superior morals in comparison with the Chinese, who are untrustworthy. Nevertheless, they find a temporary ally in a Chinese counterpart, “Storm Shadow,” the emphasis being on temporary, with the option of future confrontation due to their fundamental differences. The North Korean leaders are eager to nuke the West and reluctant to self-destruct the missiles after they are launched.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Joe Dante ... Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The film’s stars, which spawn from a mystical Asian creature called a mogwai, are loud, break-dancing little monsters who devour fried chicken at an unprecedented pace, destroy and devalue property, and even kill good white folks.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Ron Howard ... Cast: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, John Turturro, Mimi Rogers ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Zany Japanese (including one played by Gedde Watanabe of “Long Duk Dong” infamy) take over an American auto-manufacturing plant and bewilder blue-collar Yanks with their zany Japanese ways--funny accents, chopsticks, public bathing. In the end, the Americans learn how to be über-efficient and the Japanese presumably learn how not to run a billion-dollar industry into the ground.
Hangover, The Flagged for the following stereotypes: 10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek7. Mystic8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Three Caucasians on a Las Vegas trip drive off in a Mercedes and discover size-6 men’s shoes in the car belonging to a Chinese man, which they mistake for being women’s shoes--perpetuating the stereotype that all Asian men are tiny and effeminate. Stopping the car, they hear someone banging in the trunk. On opening it, the Asian man jumps out naked and attacks them, knocking two of them down with a crow bar that he waves about like it’s a martial-arts weapon. He yells in horrendous English at the remaining Caucasian, who pleads in desperation, “No! I’m on your side. I hate Godzilla! I hate him! He destroys cities! Please!” Godzilla is Japanese mythology, so the implication is that Japanese and Chinese are all the same. The Asian man throws the crow bar at his face and runs off naked.
Later in the movie, the Asian man reappears and rams their stolen Mercedes with a SUV. He steps out wearing a pair of small, shiny feminine shoes and is evidently a gangster. He orders his Asian goons to pull the three Caucasians out of the car through the windows. Amazingly, the Asian man (played by an Asian American) no longer speaks in horrendous English, but just plain bad English, when he demands, “I want my purse back!” One of his goons even speaks in flawless American English. They argue about whether the purse is a purse or satchel, with the Asian gangster insisting it’s his “purse.” The Asian laughs at one of the Caucasians because he’s fat. The Asian gangster then continues with a display of infantile speech patterns and makes bizarre “Asian” noises.
In yet a later scene, the Asian man keeps laughing at one of the Caucasians for being fat. During an argument, he agrees to do something for them on the condition, “right after you suck on these little Chinese nuts,” which he utters while making masturbation movements and “ejaculation noises.” The Asian, who is the most stereotyped “gay” in the movie then yells, “So long, gay boys!” as he leaves.
Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration The intentions of the producers and script writers is unclear. While at face value, the movie appears to confront the issues of stereotypes and discrimination, most of the scenes utilize discriminatory Asian jokes or comedic effect. Stereotypes are employed to make fun of Asians, rather than to highlight the fact that they are undeserved and ludicrous. Stereotypical jokes are rehashed for comedy, rather than to confront the issue. Alongside the fact that Asians are shown as being more than meets the eye (of the stereotype-biased), the movie portrays the East Asian as being nerdier and sexually inferior compared with the South Asian (Indian) character, and East Asians are shown as being school-geeks belonging to nerd clubs. If the general idea was to confront stereotypes and drive a change of perception, this movie has probably failed--it has served only to perpetuate the stereotypes. That Harald falls in love with a Latina is also a play on the fact that Latinas are far more open than white women to dating Asian men (refer to chart under the section, Gendered Racism on this page).
Hawaii Five-O Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The show does a great job at casting locally, but Asians, who represent 40% of the population of Hawaii, are usually limited to non-speaking roles. The Hawaii Five-O task force, an elite police force that takes down criminals and keeps Hawaii safe, has two Asian Americans on their team: Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) and Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park). Although these two actors, with their starring roles, provide huge strides for the presence of Asian Americans in the media, they play second fiddle to the real heroes on the show. Kono fulfills the obligatory Asian geek/nerd role by doing all the high-tech work to catch the criminal but Steve and Danno get to arrest the criminal. The Chin Ho character is a local guy (although his Pidgin is atrocious), but he gets one-upped by some short Haole that just moved to Hawaii from New Jersey. Hawaii Five-O: Helping or Hurting Asian Americans
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Jerry Ciccoritti, Ann Gunder, Michael Vickerman ... Cast: Jennie Garth, Cameron Mathison, Kristin Booth ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable In a short scene completely inconsequential to the storyline, a Chinese couple wanders into the house asking for directions in Mandarin, staring at a map. The Chinese are foreigners by default, the epitome of everything non-American and foreign and unfathomable. However, the main character of the story, a white woman, casually replies in (really badly spoken) Mandarin to the delight of the Chinese couple. In between the lines is the idea that she, an all-American girl, happens to speak such an obscure, bizarre and difficult language.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Sean Anders, John Morris, Jonathan M. Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Markowitz ... Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration The movie features at least two scenes with stereotypical portrayals, where the Asians are foreigners by default, ready to do the bidding of their American masters/counterparts. In one, Asian businessmen are shown as unscrupulous conspirators, ready and waiting to undercut American the economy by outsourcing the production of American inventions to China. In another, a Suzy Nakamura plays Kim Song, a hardworking, appeasing, subservient, vulnerable, downtrodden and disempowered housekeeper, who not only speaks very poor English and is subjected to verbal abuse and racist comments (called “Mrs. Miyagi”; spoken to in mock-Asian-accent: “You fi-yah! You roose you job.”) and physical harassment. Initial assumptions made by other characters are that she has to be the wife of the villain, a Caucasian -- for no other explanation than she being Asian. She subsequently exacts her revenge on her employer by using his toothbrush on her anus, showing that her loyalty was just a sham.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Tom Brady ... Cast: Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams, Anna Faris, Rachel McAdams ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration An Asian-African American girl who wants to be regarded by her peers as a black girl is told that she is ashamed of who she really is. The implication is that the ridiculous One Drop Rule (the US Supreme Court ruling that anybody with as little as 1/32 African blood is officially an “African American”) is even more stringently applied to Asians than to blacks. In other words, she cannot qualify for being truly African American since she has Asian blood. On the other hand, the girl’s mother, who is obviously Asian and speaks horrendous English, tries so hard to be “black” that she is an embarrassing caricature and epitome of the uncool, un-American gook. However, the mother credited with at least admitting she is Asian, unlike her “fake black,” “fake American” daughter, who is in denial of who she “truly” is.
House (TV) Flagged for the following stereotypes: 4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate Features a nerdy, uneasy, bespectacled female Asian doctor who has trouble grasping basic American cultural concepts of dating, attraction, etc.
Script lines to perpetuate the model-minority and over-achieving stereotype include:
”You wanna be a rebel? Stop being cool. Wear a pocket protector like he does and get a haircut. Like the Asian kids who won’t leave the library for a 20-hour stretch. They’re the ones who don’t care what you think. Sayonara!”
”So, should I go through all the resumes looking for Asian names?
”Actually, the Asian kids are probably just responding to parental pressure, but my point is still valid.”
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate The Tsunami of 2004 killed at least 227,898 people. However, The Impossible concentrates, “not on the plight of the indigenous victims, but on the less harrowing experiences of privileged white visitors.” “The film’s winsomely western family experiences little more than separation anxiety and survivable injury before jetting safely homeward.” Nonwhites are “patronized with background roles as saintly ciphers” They are not given “mainstream parts as three-dimensional protagonists in what is, after all, their story.”
Cast: Steven Seagal ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril6. Inferior/Subordinate2. Martial arts5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The movie opens with Rambo rip-offs of Southeast-Asian bad guys murdering villagers, an intervention by the good American guys, who escape on a helicopter, completely reminiscent of the Vietnam War. And if you happen to be of the opinion that the Americans had no business fighting in the jungles of Indochina: the FBI is called in to investigate the murder of a Japanese politician in... Japan! Que??? Steven Seagal speaks Japanese and does martial arts better than they do and gets to bed the Asian girl, all while fighting off the evil yellow-horde Chinese Tongs. He’s also friends with the Yakuza, whose head is called a “Godfather” and who are culturally confused with Italian Mafiosi.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Michael Bay ... Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate In the only two minor appearances of Asian male actors in the movie, one is a “cock blocker,” while the other is either impotent or infertile (or simply in an “unfruitful” relationship with a Caucasian woman). One character is that of a guard who dutifully does his job to block the fraternization and romance developing between Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). The other is that of a husband, whose wife resorts to using a clone of herself, who was developed solely for the purpose of acting as surrogate for her baby and who was thus murdered after the delivery of the baby. Although it is never indicated whether the couple are unable to have a baby due to medical conditions on the part of the wife or the husband, or the combination of both, it is unfortunate that in one of the extremely rare occasions that Hollywood depicts an Asian-male-Caucasian-female couple, they are a “faulty” match and a murderous combination.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Oliver Parker ... Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration7. Mystic Her Majesty’s special agent Johnny English battles a highly skilled martial artist and wins simply by virtue of his being “brighter”--despite demonstrating repeatedly that he really isn’t the brightest bulb around. He also speaks mock-Chinese and claims to have knowledge of China that is quite nonsensical, but the comedic content is derived from the Chinese being bizarre, different and unfathomable. He is pursued by an old Chinese lady assassin who is accompanied by patronizing ching-chong music whenever she appears onscreen. Drugged by a powerful mind-control drug, Johnny English is able to stop himself from carrying out an assassination through previous training by an old Chinese sage on the mastery of the mind and body.
Cast: Michael Douglas ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner The film begins with Charlie (Michael Douglas) leaving a mental institution and laughing out of the blue at something out he found bizarre—naked Chinese men swimming naked and “washing ashore all over Southern California’s beaches.” It ends with the very same subject—Chinese boat refugees swimming ashore. However, the Chinese illegals have absolutely nothing to do with the story line. The only context given for the Chinese is that they are entering the US as illegals, and that it was so off-the-wall that even such a quixotic man found it bizarre.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Gary Fleder ... Cast: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable In the movie’s only scene involving Asians, a Chinese mother and sister of an injured woman at a hospital whimper and speak in Chinese in response to an English-speaking doctor’s news. The mother understanding no English at all and requires translations. The portrayal of a non-English-speaking Chinese family in the waiting room was completely nonessential to the storyline--a Greek non-English-speaking family could have been used, or even a Polish family speaking fluent English. Why was it necessary to portray the Chinese as foreigners who can’t speak English? What did it bring to the story? Nothing at all. As usual, the Chinese are depicted as being foreigners by default.
Cast: David Carradine ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The story was originally created by Bruce Lee, who had intended to star in the series, but he was rejected in favor of casting a Caucasian actor. David Carradine wore yellowface makeup/prosthetics to look more East Asian.
In the Siamese Cat Song in Disney’s Lady & The Tramp, the two cats (Si & Am) are shown with obviously slanted eyes, emphasized in every way possible for racist comic effect. Their use of the English language is terrible—skewed horrifically towards the obvious stereotypes. And, of course, the cats are malicious, conniving and horrible creatures.
Cast: The main cast was almost entirrly Caucasian. The original critically acclaimed series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was set in a world which was influenced by Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Indian and Inuit cultures. The live-action film, on the other hand, had a cast that consisted almost completely of Caucasian actors, with Asian actors being either secondary or villainous characters. Jackson Rathborne, who portrayed Sokka in the film, said in an interview with MTV: “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.” Reception of the casting decision was negative; the Hollywood Reporter said the lack of correct casting caused the film to lose substantial credibility in regard to its source material. ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable A commentary about this item may be added at a later date.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Edward Zwick ... Cast: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Shin Koyamada, Tony Goldwyn, Masato Harada ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts3. Model minority5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The last samurai not only happens to be white, but is a white savior who helps preserve the native culture that his people are destroying. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is a washed-up ex-military American drunk in Japan with no apparent purpose in life until he’s taken in by a clan and lays his life on the line to preserve the Samurai way of life. He gets to bed the Japanese wife of an enemy he kills, because she is simply commanded to house him under her roof. Like the Shogun television series on the 80s, not only does a white man become accepted as samurai and master incredible skills after a short stay with the Japanese. He proves to be able to do it better and survives a merciless onslaught in the battlefield, manages to storm into the emperor’s innermost chambers without getting decapitated, and lingers on to reconnect the young emperor with his own roots -- the “real” Japanese way of life.
Limitless Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The protagonist’s landlord’s Asian wife confronts the protagonist and begins lecturing him about paying the rent, eventually yelling hysterically in Cantonese. The protagonist is under the influence of a brain-enhancing drug called NZT and begins to see through her temper tantrum as being due to some other underlying issue. He is able to race circles around her typical womanly hysteria and suss her out as a law student who is under pressure, and impress her so much with his high-paced smooth talk that he ends up having her in bed. She is a sexual object, there for him to conquer and, in his words, is “no match” for him while on NZT. The Asian woman is thus used to represent the hardworking model-minority law-student dragon-lady stereotype, who ultimately proves to be inferior/subordinate and sexually available to any smart Caucasian who can talk his way into her pants--a highly compact scene that utilizes gendered racialization.
At a dinner table conversation, the realtor husband of Sarah (Kate Winslet) says, “I have these clients who come to me when they have a new product they want to sell, like [laughs] these guys, they were in a couple of weeks ago. They’re trying to open this chain of Chinese restaurants, right? They’re talking to me and I look down at the table and I realize that none of these guys were Chinese!”
”Where were they from?” Brad (Patrick Wilson) asks.
”They’re a bunch of fat cats from Tennessee who think they can start up a chain of Chinese restaurants good enough to fool the average American.”
At one point in the conversation, “Chinese” refers to culture (and the ability to produce authentic Chinese cuisine) and at another, it refers to nationality (they are not Chinese because they are from Tennessee). Although ethnicity, culture and nationality are separable issues, they are ultimately muddled and presented as inseparable. The assertion is that Chinese restaurants should only be operated by genuine foreign (non-US) Chinese and that the Tennessee clients were being deceitful, because apparently a) there is apparently no such thing as a Chinese Tennessean or Chinese American, and b) all Chinese restaurants are run by Chinese foreigners.
Cast: Harold Huber, June Duprez, Richard Loo ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable6. Inferior/Subordinate In its day, Little Tokyo, USA exemplified yellowface at its most pernicious. While other works had used Asian make-up to ridicule or vilify Asian features, this B movie used yellowface directly to deny a group of Asian Americans their civil rights. Twentieth Century Fox seized on one of the most controversial aspects of the home front, the roundup and internment of people of Japanese descent on the West Coast. Little Tokyo basically developed the theme that anyone of Japanese descent, including American citizens, was loyal to the emperor of Japan and a potential traitor to America. The movie employed a quasi-documentary style of filming. Twentieth Century sent its cameramen to the Japanese quarter of Los Angeles to shoot the actual evacuation. However, after the evacuation, night shots were difficult in the deserted “Little Tokyo.” Night scenes were filmed in Chinatown, instead—who would notice that the street signs had Chinese instead of Japanese characters? This assumption carried over to casting: Chinese actor Richard Loo played one of the lead Japanese roles in the film. The movie argues that all Japanese and Japanese Americans were secret traitors wishing to betray the United States.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, Damon Lindelof ... Cast: Jorge Garcia, Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The series features a Korean couple. The husband is mockingly called everything from “Miyagi” to “Cato” to “Chinese.” He plays the part of a non-English speaking, unfathomable, noncommunicative foreigner -- far more foreign than an Iraqi former Republican Guard. The Korean husband also comes replete with a mafia/triad background and gets insanely violent over a matter of “family honor.” An African American says about him, “Back home, people like us don’t like people like them.” The African American threatens him with an ax to make him learn his place and return to his docile self. In classic gendered-racism, the Korean wife is considered desirable and attractive, and far more assimilable than the Korean husband, who doesn’t speak or understand English. The husband is regarded as an abusive husband and his fearful wife planned to leave him by secretly learning English in preparation for escaping incognito to a new life. In fact, he is so undeserving of her that she resorted to cheating on him with another Korean man, who dies as a result. Several episodes are spent playing on the attraction and sexual tension that builds up between her and the African American, the implication being that they would have gotten it on if the bad Korean husband hadn’t been in the way. The conflict arising from the wife’s desire for Western freedoms vs. the husband’s controlling ways are also heavily featured -- all attributable to his having a different culture, of course. It is important to note that while there are plays on other forms of “political incorrectness” in the series, the racial and gendered-racial concepts of Asians are never rectified at any point.
In season three, an episode is dedicated to showing the mysticism, bizarreness of Thais and Asia. Once again, the fact that something is bizarre or mystical is simply attributable to having Asia/Thai origins -- no other explanation is offered or needed. Mock Asian is spoken by characters such as Isabel, pretending to be an expert who reads and speaks a variety of “Asian” languages. In the classic lumping of all things Asian into a generic/homogenous mass, Thai culture is freely mixed with Chinese, etc. A Chinese actress, Bai Ling, plays the part of a Thai woman and completely gets it wrong on everything about important Thai customs.
In season 5, the chaotic-Asia theme is played upon. In one episode, a woman says to an American man: “You may have Richard fooled, but you can’t really expect me to believe that you, a British woman and a Chinese man are all members of the United States military.” The “Chinese man” to whom she is referring, is played by actor Ken Leung, who has, in the course of several episodes, proven to be an all-American male with no trace whatsoever of being culturally Chinese. This remark in the script reinforces the lingering concept of Manifest Destiny, that those who are Chinese by blood, cannot possibly be American, regardless of how assimilated they are. After all, she didn’t refer to him as “your fellow American.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Mike Newell ... Cast: Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril A Chinese winner of the annual Golden Orchid award for poetry, Wing Wu Peng, is booed and pelted with missiles for being undeserving of the award. Although no explanation is given, the understanding is that he was a usurper who had no claims to such a prize by his simple virtue of being a foreigner/Chinese:
”And the winner of this year’s Golden Orchid is... Wing Wu Peng.” “What?!” “It’s a scandal!” “What was the name?” “It sounded Chinese.” “It’s impossible.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Woody Allen ... Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable7. Mystic The main character of Stanley, played by Collin Firth, is a magician who specializes in utilizing the default, inherent mysticism that comes with the Far East to create the atmosphere for his shows, where he adorns yellow-face to dress up as a Chinese magician.
”It’s so bad it’s an insult to China. This movie was offensive to China’s culture and people. It was really that bad.
Russell Crowe is in yellow face and says ‘I Rike it.’“
The Man With The Iron Fists is an Asian fetishist’s wet-dream... not surprising, considering it is the end result of empowering Hollywood’s two leading Asian fetishists — Quentin Tarentino, Hollywood’s foremost rip-off artist and RZA, member of the Wu Tang Clan — with $20 million dollars [...] and a mission to make an Asian martial arts “homage” film. “In fact, The Man with The Iron Fists isn’t really a movie. It’s porn: kungfu-porn, action-porn, Orientalist-porn, gore-porn, and just porn-porn... Basically, it’s RZA’s porn starring RZA.”
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The movie milks as much as it can on the theme of muddling Chinese with illegal aliens, with the underlying idea that Chinese are illegal aliens or aliens, period. A restaurant owner, who is in fact an alien, has a severely overplayed Chinese accent. The Chinese restaurants serve all kinds of strange food and are deceitful about it, calling outrageously bizarre food that is unfit for consumption as something “common in China.” At the secret MIB HQ which serves as an alien transit terminal, airport-like announcements in English are followed by Chinese—the language of the aliens.
Mentalist, The (TV) Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic Major strides forward, but still far to go in shattering Asian stereotypes. The Asian character of Kimball Cho was shown as having consummated a relationship with a Caucasian woman, which shatters the desexualized Asian male stereotype. However, his girlfriend is a mess-up and unreliable prostitute and Kimball is cast as being an emotionless, often expressionless and robotic person, who simply does his duty and at most, plays second fiddle to Teresa Lisbon in the team.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration During a tense gun-duel conversation, the protagonist refers to Chinese railroad workers as “our friends from the Far East, who have come here to help us build our railroads...” The implication is that the Chinese are not regarded as fellow settlers nor citizens. Rather, they are present only to serve the purposes of the white settlers. In another conversation, a man reassures his self-conscious girlfriend that her eyes aren’t too big, by saying, “they’re so small that you’re practically Chinese!” It is noteworthy that while the movie features other instances of “politically incorrect” humor against blacks, for example, the black man gets to have his payback at the end of the movie.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: John Pasquin ... Cast: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, William Shatner, Dolly Parton ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek Apart from Asians, the diversity of ethnicities of the main characters and support extras are all portrayed as acculturated and all-American. When it comes to Asians, the only ones to appear in the movie are a couple of speaking extras with a two-word sentence. A stereotyped old Asian tourist couple with matching hat, T-shirt and fanny pack and a big camera snap a picture of celebrity, “Gracie Hart.”
Cast: Peter Sellers ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Peter Sellers plays Inspector Sidney Wang, based on Charlie Chan and appropriately accompanied by his adopted, Japanese son Willie (Richard Narita). Wang wears elaborate Chinese costumes, and his grammar is frequently criticized by the annoyed host. It could be argued that Sellers’ role is in itself a parody of yellowface casting in earlier films.
Cast: Samm Levine ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration2. Martial arts1. Perpetual foreigner A parody of racist stereotypes in teen films, most notably Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. One of the male Caucasian characters walks around school dressed in yellow-face and wearing a bandana reminiscent of Karate Kid, talking in a mock Asian accent, using bad grammar and mixing Rs with Ls in his pronunciation. Towards the end of the movie he is joined by another Caucasian female who also speaks in a mock Asian accent. Two Asians who are offended resort to using a martial arts kick to knock out the above-mentioned male Caucasian character.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Steven Soderbergh, George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell ... Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable The character of the Amazing Yen, played by Shaobo Qin, fulfills stereotypes of the tiny, subservient, useful sidekick Asian guy who’s an unfathomable foreigner and doesn’t speak a word of English. He’s also a contortionist, a “circus freak” of sorts, which is a presentation that goes back in history to the early 1800s in the US (refer to Anti-Chinese USA article on this site).
Cast: Gerard Butler, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Another blockbuster yellow-peril movie [in which] Asians and Asian American [are cast as] evil, foreign invaders. Asian American actor Rick Rune plays the “sociopathic monster,” Kang, a “North Korean posing as a South Korean ministerial aide.” “The plot hangs on the fact that the inscrutable villains disguise themselves as Good Asian Allies — but surprise! Of course, [they were] evil all along.” — Phil Yu. Yune (Asian American) puts on a terrible accent to sound foreign, while Butler (Caucasian, Scottish) does his best to sound “American,” because Americans are supposedly whites, while Asians are, by default, foreigners. “There are no substantive or patriotic Asian American characters in the film, just the sneaky villains [posing as] nice Asians, [who turn} out to be evil.” “Rick Yune was born in Washington DC. Yet, he is playing a terrorist invader trying to destroy Washington DC, rather than the American patriot trying to save it. The privilege of playing that American hero goes to a white actor — because Hollywood’s institutional culture posits that any white actor is still more [of an] ‘American patriot’ than an Asian American actor.” (Olympus Has Fallen and racial nativism)
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Michael Oblowitz ... Cast: Steven Seagal, Michelle Goh, Corey Johnson ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril7. Mystic Yet another Steven Seagal movie featuring mysterious sword fights and hand-to-hand combat with highly skilled martial artists, who are all inferior to the white man who can do it far better than they can. Not forgetting: hordes of bizarre, unfathomable, deceitful, inscrutable, villainous and idiotic Asians, all deserving of denigration, humiliation and death, but of course with the exception of Asian girls and wise, harmless old mystics and sages who are all there to serve (service) the white man; Asian archvillains; the bad-English Asians; the Asians in the US who are never acculturated and all foreigners by default; the Asian underworld; the mix up of Asian languages (Japanese? Chinese? Cantonese? Mandarin? Same-same!) and mix up of cultures (Yakuza? Triad? Same-same!).
Pearl Harbor Flagged for the following stereotypes: 8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril An interesting note: The movie tells the little-known story of Doolittle and his daring April 1942 raid on Tokyo. Omitted is the part about the 250,000 Chinese civilians killed in retaliation for aiding the handful of American pilots who deliberately crash-landed in China, assuming correctly that the Chinese populace would sacrifice themselves to help them escape to safety. While the ending credits detail the aftermath and impact of the raid, the quarter of a million Chinese who died in support of the military operation are not so much as given an honorable mention.
Cast: Tony Shalhoub ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Playing Fred Kwan/Tech Sergeant Chen, Shalhoub (an American of Arab descent) plays an actor with a Korean family name; Shalhoub wears makeup which makes him look more East Asian.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi ... Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, James Hong, Kevin Bacon ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Hollywood scripts continue to embed small little digs at the Chinese at every opportunity. First comes the Protagonist’s shock at being given, of all things, the body of “an old Chinese man” when he returns to earth to assume the role of an undercover “spirit” cop. Actor James Hong, actually towers above the actress Mary-Louise Parker when standing face-to-face with her, yet she later refers to him as the “little Chinese guy.” There may not have been any major overt racial insults, but the subtle insults are there, nonetheless.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Jerry Zucker ... Cast: Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Although various ethnicities are portrayed, in movie’s one and only scene involving an Asian (on a “I Love Lucy” convention bus) and in her one and only spoken line, she utters bad generic Asian-style “Engrish”. Although various stereotypes are employed in this comedy, the only portrayal of an Asian is that of an unassimilated, unacculturated foreigner.
Cast: Harrison Ford ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner In the movie’s only scene with Asians in it, four Japanese business men are shown in an office bowing to a Caucasian who has to speak Japanese in order to communicate with them.
Cast: Henry Silva ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Nowhere in the film is it even mentioned that Moto is Japanese. He is referred to as an “oriental” and, oddly, in the trailer, Moto is referred to as a “swinging Chinese cat.” It is only when he is disguised as a Japanese oil representative, Mr. Takura, that a more stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese businessman is given.
Although a Japanese man is shown as having sex with a Caucasian woman, the movie highlights the dangerous and illicit nature of such relationships: He is a seedy character who is the epitome of the devouring Yellow Peril Yakuza-type Asian, while she is a professional escort a.k.a. high-end prostitute, whom the Japanese regard as “a woman of no importance.” Their sex involves autoerotic asphyxia, which initially seems to result in her death. A Caucasian American detective describes his sexual activities with Caucasian women as “plundering our natural resources.”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Andrezj Bartkowiak ... Cast: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Russell Wong ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling Shakespeare’s timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet is updated for the hip-hop generation. Except that the couple do not so much as share a kiss on screen, making the “love story” a joke. The movie had originally ended with a kiss, but producers cut the scene at the last minute because it didn’t “test well” with audiences.
Scorpion King 3 Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration2. Martial arts6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable Ramusen, the leader of a nation reminiscent of Malayo, Cham and Khmer peoples, is played by New Zealander, Temuera Morrison, who is of Maori, Scottish, and Irish descent. Despite his yellowface make-up, he is noticeably a Caucasian ruler who speaks perfect English while everyone else in his kingdom looks Asian and speaks poor English. Ramusen’s nation is rescued from an entire invading army by only two Caucasian heroes. Ramusen promises one of them his daughter, Silda, as a bride—once again the ever-available Asian girl for the Caucasian protagonist. Silda turns out to be a leader of a small army of highly skilled ninja-type fighters, who despite their sheer numbers and high level of fighting skills, are easily beaten back by the two Caucasian protagonists in an initial confrontation. Silda is played by Krystal Vee, who is of one-quarter Portuguese descent and has some European features and, like Ramusen, speaks perfect English and is in charge of Asian-looking troops, all of whom speak little or no English. In this movie, all the characters with Asian appearances serve as cannon fodder and are ultimately the losers, subservient and inferior.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Emily Kapnek ... Cast: Karen Gillan, John Cho, Allyn Rachel ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Selfie is a relatively progressive television series in terms of presenting an Asian American in a major role. Henry Higgs, played by John Cho, speaks fluent English, is not made to put on a bad accent, and he is successful, acculturated and so forth. However, references constantly made about Asian males being regarded as effeminate or sexually ambiguous (his boss kisses him on the mouth, says he smells good, etc). He is weak and appeasing and unable to stand up to his boss. He is shown as a stiff, achievement-obsessed workaholic who has sacrificed personal relationships in the name of his job. He never makes a move on the main character of Eliza Dooley, played by Karen Gillan, despite the mounting sexual tension. He remains the safe eunuch Asian male, as opposed to a number of his Caucasian office counterparts who wither hook up for sex or are in relationships. His interest in the main Caucasian character never takes off, because he doesn’t have what it takes to consummate one. He is even set up to pair with an Asian woman instead.
Seraphim Falls Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate3. Model minority10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration1. Perpetual foreigner Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) approaches an enclosure of horses guarded by a dozen Chinese railroad-construction workers. He demands that they open the gate. Knowing that he has no business being there, they refuse. He promptly strikes one of them. Then, without so much as a word of protest or any adverse reactions whatsoever, they immediately open the gate for him so that he is able to steal a horse that doesn’t belong to him. Historically, while it is true that the Chinese would have met with trouble if they had confronted a Caucasian, they are portrayed as impotent and submissive.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate7. Mystic10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration In this dark comedy set in the late 1960s, the only two Asian characters are a South Korean student and his father. The student is portrayed as socially awkward, devious and obstinate, and wears a surgical mask when cycling (despite the fact that Asians only began wearing face masks in the past decade or two due to increased city-pollution levels and/or fears of spreading or being infected with avian viruses, etc). Although supposedly Korean, the student speaks very poor English with, what more of a Japanese accent than a Korean one. His father is even more unfathomable, shifty and belligerent, and in a roundabout manner, pushes the protagonist, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, not to question the appearance of some money on his desk (a bribe), to “embrace the mystery” or be sued for defamation if he reports the son. Later, the protagonists asks whether some anonymous letters critical of him were written in idiomatic English, because he has a disgruntled Korean student. The answer he receives is that the letters were written by a native English speaker, not possibly by a Korean. So the Korean father and son are used to fill the perpetual-foreigner stereotype--Asians are automatically understood to be non-American, non-native-English speakers, socially maladapted, etc.
Shanghai Kiss Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate One of the only US movies in which an Asian male is portrayed as sexually desirable and consummates a relationship with a Caucasian female—an act that is not lightly alluded to, but with on-screen bedroom scenes featured. However, the movies message is unclear -- is it intended to confront or perpetuate Asian male stereotypes? Although it sets the tone for confronting stereotypes and proving them fallacious, it subsequently fails to hit the mark in this very respect.
- Protagonist: “Every time I [turn up for a role,] it’s always for some kungfu deli-store computer Chinese...” Reply by Caucasian best friend: “You are a little Chinese guy. So you’re gonna go out for roles for little Chinese guys!”
- The protagonist is a talkative all-American of Chinese descent, who “finds himself” upon returning to China and decides to move “back” to where he belongs--MESSAGE: the Chinese will never fit in the US and should go home to China, where they belong.
- The witty protagonist meets a Chinese girl in Shanghai who renders him speechless by asserting that he is not American, but Chinese, because he “looks Chinese” and doesn’t “look like an American”--MESSAGE: Americans must be white, or black at most, but definitely not “yellow.”
- She further accuses him of not knowing “his own culture,” because he doesn’t speak Chinese--MESSAGE: The Nazi-era concept of eugenics remains applicable in current-day thinking, because genetics is still synonymous with from culture and ability.
- The protagonist decries stereotypes, but takes a stab at mock-Swahili, replete with fake clicking noises, etc.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: François Girard ... Cast: Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley, Alfred Molina, Kôji Yakusho, Sei Ashina ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The concubine of a Japanese Baron is instantly sexually available for a Caucasian traveler upon exchanging a few glances.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: John Hughes ... Cast: Molly Ringwald, Justin Henry, Michael Schoefflinf, Anthony Michael Hall, Gedde Watanabe, Haviland Morris, Paul Dooley ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner4. Nerd/Geek6. Inferior/Subordinate9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable One of the worst depictions of Asians by an actor in yellow face. Extensive use stereotypes and negative portrayals. The mention of Long Duc Dong’s name is accompanied by the sound of gongs, etc. Racist comments include: “I just hope you burn the sheets and mattresses after he leaves.” In the words of critic: “Played by Japanese-American actor Gedde Watanabe, the comic relief role had an entire generation of asshole white kids rolling in the aisles thanks to his drunken school dance antics, emasculating romance, and absurd bastardizations of the English language. We feel sorry for all the Asian kids who got called “Donger” for a decade after this movie came out. *Gong*”
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Brian Levant ... Cast: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Billy Ray Cyrus ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner2. Martial arts3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable While this movie is touted by fans of Jackie Chan as a positive portrayal of the Chinese (“Hey look, we’re featuring Chinese as the good guys and he even gets the girl!”), in reality, it does not deviate from the usual martial-arts and foreigner stereotypes imposed on the Chinese in America. In this case, Chan is yet another a Chinese man who speaks poor English and has no idea what one of the most American of traditions, Halloween, is. He may be living in the suburbs and working for the CIA, but he is as “un-American” or unacculturated as it gets. He neatly fulfills the nerd-geek stereotype, is a caricature of a Chinaman scampering about in small steps and overly appeasing to his Caucasian bosses, one of whom forgives him for a misunderstanding with “Let’s chalk it up to the language barrier.” He may get to kiss the girl, but any other Caucasian actor would have featured far racier scenes, even in a movie made for children. Why are most Americans so approving of this movie? Probably because they are only comfortable with Asians being nerdy-geeky foreigners who do not challenge their notions of Asians not possibly being assimilated or entitled to act and call themselves American.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: George Lucas ... Cast: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration George Lucas’ imagination deteriorated to the point he began basing his alien races on stereotypes. These include the ultra-capitalistic greedy alien with a Middle Eastern accent, Wato; the robe-wearing “sand people” brutes who live out in the desert; the clumsy simple-minded Jamaican-like Jar Jar Binks with the appearance of dreadlocks... and the Neimoidians, humanoids with slanted eyes and noseless faces, are bosses of the Trade Federation who conspire to undermine freedoms and the Republic. They wear Imperial hats and Chinese Emperor garb, and speak with funny accents, mixing up their “R” and “L” sounds. Their colony planets have Japanese sounding names, such as Cato, Deko and Koru. The are evil schemers, unlike the white races in the series. Thankfully, Lucas did not have any of them fight Anakin one-on-one only to get beaten despite their immense kungfu skills.
Stealth Flagged for the following stereotypes: 10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration6. Inferior/Subordinate5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling While on RNR in Thailand, Afro-American pilot, Henry (played by Jamie Foxx), approaches a local woman with cheesy pick-up lines. Later, they sit together at a table with the rest of his team. Foxx says to a female pilot, “Well I know I’m not moral. As a matter of fact, I should be arrested for the thoughts I have right now.” Then he turns to Thai woman and utters, “Hwa la wah na ta” in a patronizing manner, mocking her language. She responds by smiling bashfully yet appreciatively. When walking in a field with her, he begins to confess his bombing missions “in exotic places” like her country, then he turns and asks, “you don’t understand anything I’m saying, do you?” She shakes her head and says she doesn’t understand, but it all seems fine with her anyway and they kiss.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Christine Jeffs, Megan Holley ... Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The movie opens with a daydreaming Caucasian waitress having orders barked at her by a very brusque Chinese woman. She proceeds to trip and drop her tray of food and is screamed all the way out the door by the very confrontational Chinese owner of the hamburger/Chinese food joint. Featuring the Chinese as aggressive and unpleasant is completely non-essential to the storyline. It hints of yellow peril -- perpetual-foreigner Asians taking over American businesses and ruining the lives of nice Caucasian girls.
Tomb Raider II, Lara Croft: Cradle of Life Flagged for the following stereotypes: 3. Model minority6. Inferior/Subordinate Lara Croft rudely nudges a door open and walks into a Chinese houseboat in Hong Kong, where a Chinese family is having dinner with the television on. She speaks in supposedly perfect Mandarin (well, good-effort Mandarin) and asks to borrow their television, explaining that it’s important. They readily agree to it without question and quietly and humbly watch on, without so much as a whisper or even rising from their seats, and moves the set around, connecting various cables, gadgets and even a satellite dish to it. At one point, she even asks a little girl for the chewing gum in her mouth, which she takes and sticks onto the TV set. The parents have an infantilized look on their faces as look on in wonderment as she does something seemingly magical with a glowing orb. The ultra meekness and subservience is as divorced from reality as it gets. It is highly unlikely any Chinese household would obediently let a stranger into their house without question, while a complete stranger fiddles with the television. The houseboat people spoke Mandarin, while they would likely have spoken Cantonese, the prevalent dialect of Hong Kong’s houseboat population.
Treme (TV series) [2010-????] Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable In one episode, an Asian guitarist auditions for a gig, who can barely speak English and is barely understandable. In a back and forth argument about who will have the honor, the African American singer comments, “What’s up with these Japanese guys? You all have to have the last word.” The actor speaks with a Chinese accent and is probably Chinese. Despite his promises to the band, he turns out to be unreliable when they need him for a second gig.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Michael Knowles ... Cast: Michael C. Hall, Peter Fonda, Lucy Liu ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The movie features an Asian male shopkeeper who speaks broken English and is dishonest about money, running a shop that never has any change for customers. It also features an Asian female (Lucy Liu) who speaks in a highly sexually suggestive manner. Despite being married, she is sexually available to her neighbor who lives in the same building and throws herself at him.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Kevin Donovan, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi ... Cast: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 1. Perpetual foreigner2. Martial arts3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration Actor Jackie Chan plays New York cab driver Jimmy Tong, who is very much an acculturated foreigner. He puts on, for all intents and purposes, a magic tuxedo that transforms him into an acrobatic martial-arts fighter. He also selects a program on the suit, which then modifies his vocal chords and makes him dance. It is only essentially when he is not himself that he becomes sexually attractive to an extremely shallow “bimbo” type woman. No sex scenes normally afforded Caucasian actors though! To reaffirm that he is in fact sexually unattractive, in case audiences should forget, he is shown trying to pick up an Asian woman of his dreams, but can’t even score with her. To sum it up: the little inferior Asian nerd is only attractive when he’s not himself.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Tony Plana ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling3. Model minority8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril The only Asian males in the series are cast as effiminate, castrated, flamboyant homosexuals (not that this is right or wrong in itself, but while there are sexualized heterosexual whites and Latinos, all threats of Asian male heterosexuality is removed). To add to the insult, the principal Asian character is a vicious gossiper who turns out to be living a heterosexual life in actuality, but deceitfully masquerading as a homosexual in order to be “hip” and keep his high-profile job.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Steven Brill ... Cast: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 6. Inferior/Subordinate10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration1. Perpetual foreigner9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling3. Model minority When Caucasian protagonist Meghan learns that she has lost a job to an Asian, one of her Caucasian friends explains that she feel so bad because it was a “diversity hire,” meaning that the Asian was hired due to a quota and not due to her being more qualified. In other scenes, an Asian police officer at the station is shown as being socially awkward and annoying to his peers, and he is unable to pronounce the name of a synagogue. In another part of the story, Meghan escapes from the police and runs into an Asian massage parlor where there is much more than massage going on, which is apparent when the Mamasan tries to tell the police who stumble in there that she’s already paid off their boss. One of the regular patrons also routinely asks for a “happy ending” to his massage. Meghan puts on a fake Asian accent to pretend she is one of the Asian massage girls.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 5. Gendered racism: sexualized female/asexual male/sanctioned coupling The character of Jamarcus describes his fantasy of an Asian woman sucking his “balls” for no reason other than his showing up at her house as part of the neighborhood watch. His dreams come true when he shows up at a house full of partying individuals some engaged in mid-orgy. An Asian girl instantly offers to suck his balls on seeing him. Although other Caucasian women are shown in various stages of nudity and debauchedness is implied, the Asian girl is the only girl who explicitly offers to and engages in a sexual act. As usual, The Asian female is portrayed as sexually available, particularly for pairing with Caucasian males.
Cast: Chris Lilley ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable1. Perpetual foreigner3. Model minority4. Nerd/Geek Australian actor Chris Lilley plays Ricky Wong, a 23-year-old Chinese physics student who lives in the suburb of Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, Victoria. He is often exuberant and tells his colleagues that “Physics is Phun” and that they are in the “Wong” laboratory. This character is largely a vehicle for parodying the stereotypical “Chinese overachiever,” or model migrant.
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, John Travolta, William H. Macy ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 2. Martial arts8. Archvillain, Dragon Lady or yellow peril6. Inferior/Subordinate The movie has a final fight scene where a biker gang includes an unlikely member who strips down to reveal himself to be a Chinese martial artist. However, despite his immense fighting skills, is easily defeated by the sheer will power of an African American man, who, later on, when explaining the situation to his wife, mentions that his nose was broken “by a Chinese guy” to highlight his otherness. (If he had had his nose broken by a white or black person, the script would simply have read, I had my nose broken “by a biker guy.”)
Earlier on, the movie also shows an Asian man at a fair having beer poured over his head without any hint of protest.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer, David Hayter ... Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable10. Willing/Deserving target of open denigration The movie includes a small scene where a glass tipping jar is shown sitting on a bar, with a sign in it saying, “Tipping is not a city in China.” Well, if it’s open season on making fun of “ethnic” names, then it’s no surprise that the name of the person responsible for the screenplay is David Hater.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Peter Weir ... Cast: Linda Hunt, Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable6. Inferior/Subordinate3. Model minority Caucasian female actress Linda Hunt plays an Asian male, Billy Kwan, highlighting general Western notions that an Asian male is either a sexless or androgynous man-child, or effeminate and equivalent to a female -- a concept that Linda Hunt emphasizes well through her acting, which is not exactly “male.” Yellowface is sanctioned by the Hollywood movie industry and Linda Hunt wins an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The storyline portrays the character of Billy Kwan as the good Asian boy who embraces superior Western ideals of democracy. He serves as a backdrop and enabler to the bigger story at hand -- the love story between two Western journalists exposing the evils of Asian political conflicts, who ultimately escape to the safety of Western civilization.
Director/Writer/Screenplay: Lewis Gilbert ... Cast: Sean Connery, Mie Hama, Donald Pleasance, Akiko Wakabayashi ...Flagged for the following stereotypes: 9. Carricature, yellowface, bizarre or unfathomable James Bond gets to marry an Asian girl in drag—and by drag, as in having his eyes taped back so he can pass as an Asian man.
EXCERPT FROM My Life as a Squint-eyed Chink, by Zak Keith.
“And talking about Hollywood,” she added, “Chinese actors tend to serve as sidekicks and extras, as cannon fodder. African Americans broke barriers with the Cosby Show. They even had their sarcastic ‘revenge’ on old Hollywood stereotypes through blaxploitation movies. But the Chinese don’t get to have a voice of their own.”
Everyone at the table grinned knowingly. We all seemed to share the lifelong frustration of never being fully accepted in the West, of the stereotypical perceptions of who we are, due to the media.
Hollywood’s narrow portrayal of the Chinese as either as subservient or subversive, as traditionally strange, unfathomable, almost bizarre beings, perpetuated the notion that Asians are inherently foreign—immigrants, but never citizens.
Asian males are never cast in leading roles, unless it is one inseparable from their status as a foreigner or an immigrant with martial arts skills.
Asian females are always sexually available, while Chinese males are sexually inferior and never allowed to consummate a relationship with a Caucasian woman.
Not that it had ever stopped me. I had never thought of myself as Chinese to start with. Despite the occasional teasing as a child for looking “different,” somehow I just hadn’t really been aware of race. Patronizing, reductive depictions of the Chinese had never bothered me, because the shoe simply hadn’t fit. Neither did it bother me to watch the subservient Hop Sing in Bonanza or Inspector Clouseau’s treatment of his idiotic Chinese house servant, Cato, in The Pink Panther. Not only had I been unaware they were Chinese, I grew up laughing at Chinese jokes as much as I did Irish ones.
Somewhere along the line however, racial stereotyping eventually caught up with me and I lost my innocence. I realized that the misconceptions about who I was as a human being were borne of the steady diet of misinformation in the media at large and that Hollywood was to blame for most of it.