Portrayal of Asian Americans

Topics: Asian American, Race and Ethnicity, Stereotype Pages: 11 (3456 words) Published: June 15, 2005
My research focused on the coverage of Asian Americans in contemporary mass media. The following types of media were researched: ·Music
I gave several examples where Asian Americans were used to play very simple characters. These roles were defined by stereotypes that exist in America. I also researched instances on counter actions taken by Asian Americans to protest against these negative images. My research also has examples of Asians that have succeeded in breaking through the racial barriers in the media. The results show that even though racial stereotyping still exists in various forms of mass media, there are signs that show noticeable improvement on allowing a more balanced image of Asian Americans.

Statement of the Problem

There are close to 12 million Asian Americans living in the United States (U.S. Asian, 2000). Asian Americans are considered one of the fastest growing minorities (Pimentel, 2001). Between 1990 and 1999, the Asian population rose 43% (Census, 2000). However, Asian Americans are still portrayed in a simplistic manner by the American media, which in turn, promotes stereotyping. I have researched various types of mass media in the United States, such as: music, films, television and magazines. I will focus on several examples where Asian Americans are portrayed in a negative way. Furthermore, I will give examples of musicians, and independent films that prove Asian Americans have potential on what they can contribute to in the American media. Finally, I will recommend different ways to rid the stereotype put on Asian Americans by actions that can be taken, not only pertaining to Asians, but to other ethnicities that face stereotypes on their culture. Background History

Music in every country has a history going back hundreds of years. It is an excellent type of entertainment that any person can enjoy. America being such a diverse country, any person regardless of race or gender needs to be given a fair shot in an opportunity to showcase his or her talent. However, there is a lack of Asians Americans represented in America. Asian Americans must go above and beyond on what is expected in the industry, compared to white and black Americans who seem to have it much easier. "Always, it is the Asian who assimilates, who must explain his or her presence and professionalism, who must earn the right to exist and speak, who must prove his or her authority and credibility" (Agtarap, 1994, p.267). Also, it seems like the blueprint for Asian Americans to succeed in the music business is if Asians play to the role of the stereotypes that exist in this country. The media needs to stop portraying these simple-minded images of Asian Americans, and display equality on what they project to the American public.

Recently, William Hung has reached star status in American pop culture. Born of Hong Kong decent, and a current student at University of California in Berkley, he made his debut on the auditions of a show called American Idol (Chi, 2004). One would believe that William Hung is a very talented singer to reach stardom. He is a household name for those who follow pop music in America. Unfortunately, he is not very talented. He has reached his status by making a mockery of himself. He sings in a horrible off key voice, cannot dance, and does not look the part of many entertainers in the music industry. In the media, Asians are always portrayed as being very sexually active or completely asexual (Fong, 1998). William Hung would fit the latter. He has become popular by playing the part of the general Asian stereotype. He does not care that he is laughed at by millions of Americans. Even if he ultimately made the decision to embarrass himself, it is unfortunate that Koch Records gave him a record deal, when there are far more superior Asian American musicians who just need a chance to prove themselves in the music industry....

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