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Hollywood's Favorite Minority

 

Hollywood's Favorite Minority

Hollywood’s Favorite Minority is an illustrated look into the complex cinema industry and how it treats the Asian-American population. How do Asian-Americans work and live in an industry that has traditionally erased them? I have illustrated the content with imagery that appealing to the millennials that stand at the forefront of the issue. I believe the shift towards a diversified cinematic experience will be spearheaded by a generation that is largely minority. 

 

This is a modified version of an infographic created using Adobe Muse.

 
 
 
 

“Model minority” is an American concept of classism that stereotypes a demographic group whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average.

Hollywood loves to whitewash Asian characters.

Here’s what you should to know.

 
 
 
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The Asian American population has seen a 72% increase between 2000 and 2015. This is the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group in the United States.

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Over 16 million people in the US identify as "Asian".

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The top three countries represented in the Asian American population

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The modern immigration  wave from Asia has accounted for one-quarter of all immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. since 1965.


 

A brief tour of Hollywood

 
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Grauman's Chinese Theater

Chinese Actress Anna May Wong drove the first rivet in the steel girders. She was the first leading star of Asian descent. Today, an estimated 5 million people visit the theater per year.

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Oscars So White

Asian actors have nabbed just 1% of all Oscar nods.

#OscarsSoWhite was started by activist April Reign.

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walk of shame

  1. Philip Ahn
  2. Sessue Haya Kawa
  3. Bruce Lee
  4. Keye Luke
  5. Sabu
  6. George Takei
  7. Anna May Wong
  8. Mako
  9. Pat Morita
  10. Jackie Chan
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Behind the camera

Of the top 1,100 films from 2007-2017, only 39 were directed by Asian or Asian American directors.


 

TROPES

Merriam-Webster defines trope as a "figure of speech." For creative writers, tropes are more about conveying a concept to the audience without needing to spell out all the details. However, over generalizing a continent of people is done in poor taste. Hollywood has lumped all East Asian cultures together. In cinema, they manifest themselves as an indistinguishable ethnicity. The unwillingness to tell individuals apart is a common trend. I’m sure you’ve heard: “All Asians look the same!

 

In Hollywood, they do.

 
 

Asian and nerdy

Men are often stereotyped as math, science, or computer experts. While this stereotype may be perceived as positive, there is danger in relating someone’s ability to race. And while you’re complimenting someone’s mental ability, you’re undermining their physical abilities.  

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Super old, Super wise, Super powerful

The “old master”, exists only to dispense lessons to white characters using the wisdom of his people. He is a medicine man, martial arts master, or somehow superhuman. Somehow he is always meditating (bonus points if he mentions Buddha, Confucius, or an old tale).

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Geisha or China Doll

A way to sexualize racism, the porcelain doll stereotype is a reoccurring theme in American movies. This stereotype is harmful because it pervades the idea that Asian women are sexual objects available to western men. They are characterized as submissive and docile.

Highly controlling, Strict, and Angry

The “Tiger Mom” is a prevailing stereotype of Chinese parenting in America. Pushing their children towards controlling success, the Tiger Mom is authoritarian.  She probably makes her kids master the violin  and attend private school.

 

 

The Awards Roll Call

It’s hard to receive a wards for rolls you didn’t get because they don’t exist. The Academy has recently created 3 new seats on its board for “Diversity Governor.” The following statistics apply to winners of Asian descent. Narrowing the scope to Asian Americans nearly eliminates all awards received.

To add insult to injury, in 1983 white actress Linda Hunt received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The character was half-Asian and male.

 
No Asian American actresses have won this award

No Asian American actresses have won this award

Best Actress

Ben Kingsley - 1982

Ben Kingsley - 1982

Best Actor

No Asian American films have won this award

No Asian American films have won this award

Best picture

Miyoshi Umeki - 1957

Miyoshi Umeki - 1957

Best supporting actress

Haing S. Ngorm - 1984

Haing S. Ngorm - 1984

Best supporting actor

Ang Lee - 2005, 2012 Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi

Ang Lee - 2005, 2012 Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi

BEST DIRECTOR


Current representation

The current generation’s commitment to diversity has led to a rise in successful Asian and Asian-American representation. 

 
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THE TAKE AWAY

People of color are not a niche. For generations, Asian Americans have been defined by immigrant status.  Second and third generation Asian Americans are growing in number.

If shaming a whole system into diversity is the only way to bring attention to the issue, we should be ready to act. The internet is playing a huge role in the organization of the Asian American community.

#OscarsSoWhite

#whitewashedOUT

#StarringConstanceWu

#StarringJohnCho

Cultural socialization promotes children’s cultural and ethnic pride. Pride is not emphasized in East Asian cultures. Fewer opportunities to talk about historical or cultural figures narrows Asian American visibility.

Seeing people who look like you has a positive impact on your mental health. It validates your existence as a part of a larger cultural system. People of a given racial group suffer from “stereotype threat,” in which they become anxious about confirming perceived stereotypes.

Sources available upon request

 

Design VI - Advanced Interaction Design

University of Iowa

Spring 2018