East Asian Representation
Hollywood has had mostly an unfair portrayal of Asians and this is evident in past and contemporary films. Asian roles have often times been stereotypical and offensive characteristics. These Asian portrayals in films occur when film writers and producers feed into the belief that “there is an “authentic” Asian look and character that can be played” (Ono, Pham, 2009, pg. 53). When this does happen it supports the concept of maintaining a white dominance and Asian/Asian- American subordination (Marchetti, 1993, pg. 7).
The chapter “Media Yellowface Logistics,” in Asian Americans and the Media by Kent Ono and Vincent Pham acknowledges the claim that media representation controls and often excludes Asian and Asian American self-representation (Ono, Pham, 2009, pg. 46). Additionally, in Romance and the“Yellow Peril”: Race, sex and discursive strategies in Hollywood Film, Gina Marchetti explains common Hollywood narratives including the “yellow peril threat,” sexually available Asian woman, evil Asian male predator, and many other Hollywood stereotypes of East Asians (Marchetti, 1993, pgs. 1-9). Sadly, these roles have barely progressed and in result, audiences become more familiar and comfortable with stereotypes than with the actual people being portrayed (Ono, Pham, 2009, pg. 49). There has also been moments in Hollywood in which all the aforementioned tropes and concepts can be found in the same film, one example of this is The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006).
The movie The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) is a film set in Tokyo, Japan, surrounded by the people of Japan, and the culture of Japan. However, the main character is a White man. The Fast and The Furious films usually have a relevant connection to each other and this was the first time they had the setting in an Asian country and introduced a new storyline with new characters but even with this window of opportunity, the film still revolved around a White American man. Moreover, Asians have constantly been portrayed as being inferior and subordinate to Whites. This could be considered a form of orientalism, ” a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (Marchetti, 1993, pg. 6). Many media depictions have Asians being cast aside as irrelevant sidekicks or extras. They would usually just occupy supporting roles to the protagonists, but never take center stage. In addition to that, the main love interest was non-Asian as well and was called a “gaijin” emphasizing her as a foreigner. The film placed these two main non-Asian characters in an Asian environment and the narration of the film portrayed them as outcasts who are different from the people in Tokyo. It is possible that this narrative was meant to serve as a social dimension, created for the pleasure of white audiences in order for the white people relate to each other (Ono, Pham, 2009, pg. 49). Therefore, placing two foreigners as outcasts in Tokyo but as the main leads creates a plot device that reasserts the explicit yellow face concept, the Western’s way of discriminating between “what is Asian and “what is White” (Ono, Pham, 2009, pg. 50).
Moreover, one other important issue of racial and gender discrimination is the sexual exploitation of Asian females. The notion that Asian women should and obedient, servile, and are meant to be sexually available has been a highly used formula in many films that needs to stop (Marchetti, 1993, pg. 3). The Asian women in The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) are all scantily dressed and aren’t given any importance to the film. They basically have no reason to be in the film since there were very little lines spoken, and the first time an Asian female is seen in the film, she’s a prostitute in the scene where the main character meets his uncle. Furthermore, another relevant theme shown in the film is the “yellow peril fantasy,” reinforcing the belief of sexual danger an Asian man poses (Marchetti, 1993, pg. 3). The film, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), had a romantic plot line. The plot line included the White protagonist, who is essentially the good guy, saving the love interest, a foreigner as well, from the clutches of the Asian antagonist.
Many of the narrative patterns that Hollywood has developed have a profound influence with the way people shape their beliefs about certain people. Stereotypes are nearly becoming impossible to avoid because of how Hollywood is telling their stories. Preconceived notions of blackness, latino/as, East Asians and other people of color have been formed by the media’s representation of them. There are negative Asian stereotypes because intrinsically, there are only negative Asian themes in Hollywood.