Media Influence on Stereotypes

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What you see is not always what you get

In a society highly influenced by the media, stereotypes are used sometimes in a comedic way. In Harold and Kumar go to White Castle one of the main themes the movie is poking fun at is how stereotypes affect the lives of the two main characters one being of Korean decent and the other Indian. The movie opens introducing the first character Harold. The audience sees that he is an Asian male working in a cubicle for a banking company. The scene turns to Harold’s co-workers who are both white in an office that is nicer and bigger to that of Harold, discussing how they are going to have fun and party for the weekend when one of them has much work to do, so one of them suggests having someone else do it. The scene gives the impression that the two white co-workers are the main characters of the movie as the introductory scene shows primarily the two co-workers and have the most dialogue in the brief intro; however, later the audience will notice that they are not seen again until the end of the movie. What this scene is shown to do is to make humor out of a normalized stereotype of the Asian American group. As this scene will be analyzed, the normalized stereotypes of Asians in society is highly recognizable in American culture and media, as it negatively privileges the Asian group while obscuring Americans insecurity of their own part in society.

In today’s world most people are born with an identity already established for them. Generalized perceptions or a stereotype of a single group has instigated prejudice. With cultural representations already determined by the outside world, many strive to break such representations in order to form their own identity and not what was given to them. It has increasingly more difficult for one to break such representation due to factors in society normalizing these representations with the use of the media. The media has become a powerful tool in promoting such representation of groups. Stereotypes surround the whole world we live in and are unavoidable. No matter what we do, depending on our personality, attire, or even our hairstyle everyone fits into some sort of stereotype even by a little. The definition of a stereotype is a standardized conception or idea of a group of people (Hurst). Even though most stereotypes aren’t true there is a reason why they exist and continue to thrive. Stereotypes have flourished continually as the world has become more and more globalized. Especially in the United States one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. As stereotypes exist they have consequently affected the way that a particular individual or group lives in society. One particular representation that will be analyzed is the stereotypes of Asians in popular media, the movie Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and along with my own personal experiences being in the group within Asian Stereotypes will be used to assess the topic.

Back at the beginning of this paper an introductory scene was described of the film Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Even though the scene is only about a few minutes many representations can be noted. The scene implements key normalized stereotypes seen in the public eye. The particular stereotype of Asian group has been connected to the term “Model Minority” which applies positive traits as a stereotype. The traits include qualities such as being hardworking, intelligent, studious, productive, and also inoffensive people. Also known to increase their social status through merit. The biggest opposition to the view is that it exaggerates the success of Asians. This false empowerment given by the stereotype covers up true problems that are faced by the Asian community. The belief that Asians are harder workers and thus leading to higher earning jobs has led to a more difficult level of climbing the work ladder into higher wage jobs, otherwise known as the...
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