Asians in Hollywood = Martial Arts, Geishas and Mr Miyagi

Who is to blame?

That is of course if there is anyone to blame. The subject of this rAnt as hinted to in the previous one haha I say this as if you are a regular reader, is the portrayal of Asians, if at all present, in Western media.

I agree that there is usually certain characteristics present in Asian characters. These can be broken down to are 3 main ‘types’ that incite the ire of commenters.

Martial Arts: A majority of Asian main and supporting characters have at least one martial arts related scene in the movie.

Geishas: This deals with the point of view that Asian women are objectified, sexually.

Mr Miyagi: If you do not recognize the name, shame on you! Or your maybe under 21 or so, in that case… Mr. Miyagi, played by the great Pat Morita, was a character in the Karate Kid series. The character was an old man full of Confusianesque wisdom and calmness who mentors an unruly Gaijin.(non Japanese person, in this case some Caucasian named Daniel)

I was going to use two posts from the “Dirty Sexy Money” Message board on IMDb but an administrator really f’ed up this rAnt by deleting one of my responses under a post titled “Where are the Mainstream Asian-American Characters.” The deletion however does show how heated the subject gets. Here is a non deleted entry that was a direct complaint on the geisha portrayal, followed by my response.

The title of the post was “Hollywood stop objectifying Asian Women.”

Do we really need to incite even more perverted, rabid asiaphiles and indecent behavior/attitudes towards asian women in an already ‘yellow fever’ plagued society? htm 

Dragonlady Lucy Liu has made a living playing the hypersexualized skank woman, never once objecting to these constant degrading portrayals of Asian women. Not only that, she welcomes these roles with open arms, eagerly perpetuating these notorious stereotypes that set Asians back decades. 

A bit off topic but not to mention get this, even requesting asian characters be rewritten as non-asian (see Charlie’s Angels 2). This woman clearly has issues but this does not justify writing the same stereotypical crap for these asian actresses. I can understand at some point what choice do they have, so ultimately they are not to blame. 

Its been 20+ years and the ‘me so horny’ Asian girl is still chasing after the American Joe. What progress we have made!

This was my response:

The fact that you have expressed that you feel society objectifies Asian women, should be your answer. Hollywood makes money, So if they think people want horny sexy Asian women then that’s what they will give them. If they feel that people like acting like they are ghetto, then you have people walking around saying bling-bling. The problem is not Hollywood it is society. In the USA the Asian population is the lowest by a decent margin of the big 3 minority groups. Of those groups they hail from another social divide of the western vs eastern world. Then take how sexually charged society and media is. Then of course Asian women would be perceived as a sort of rare pleasure. I mean even numerically there are just not that many of them, in the USA, and western society (so from seeing one in the media it may be more appealing than seeing some lady that looks like all the boring ladies you already know. In the World there are over 4 billion. If you are Asian-American and you have had the chance to see Asians in many different roles and ways then it is understanding to be frustrated, but if you have not seen an Asian woman as a mother, as a sister, as a friend, a classmate, peer, teacher, nurse. Then it is rather easy to objectify them as a woman*, which is her sex, leading to the sexual depiction of Asian women. Also It is hard to deny the beauty of an Asian woman. That last sentence probably angered you.

The complaint was a general one made of ‘Hollywood,’ but the specific show is called Dirty Sexy Money, and it is a show that one can judge accurately by it’s name. Also Lucy Liu, Liu can't tell me this is not beautylook at her, a vision. Enough of my cliche lurve of Asian women, this is about the blame game

I referred to Asians being the lowest percentage of the 3 major minority groups in USA, comprising of 4.4% (read more here). So to tackle the question of there not being enough Asians in Mainstream media, there are not that many Asians in the mainstream general. If one wanted complete equality then for every 100 shows or movies, only 4 or 5 should have Asians. This is far from the case and the 4.4% counts a large percent that is not even in the target audience of most of the television shows. I wonder what the percentages of non Asian characters are in Bollywood, Hong Kong Cinema and the other respective Asian equivalents. Chances are they are highly skewed to demographics of their major audience while the minorities when present are portrayed in a manner that would be familiar to that sames audiences generalizations, even if the generalizations may be offensive to some members of those minorities. Generalizations, pertaining to the west, that may come from viewing Raids of Massage parlors for their ‘happy endings’ on the news, or from seeing local Martial Arts Gyms (i am not sure if they refer to them otherwise.)

I say some members, since we are now beyond the days of black-face type practices, for these ‘offenses’ to be carried out members of said race usually have to be willing enough to portray the characters. Or at least not as offended by them as they are pleased with the salaries. So in some cases the complaints are directed towards the actors themselves instead of the industry as a whole, but it is not always the white man making the Asian one yell HIYA!! (although martial arts is seems to be the action of choice in most of the  Asian media i have seen so this may not even be a valid issue)

I could delve deeper into the subject but will just say if there is blame to be placed, there is no one specific place to put it. We should stop viewing the Entertainment industry as fact and more as business. There may also not be enough Asian actresses/actors with the right skill set to portray other types of characters to western audiences. I have seen dubbed versions of Asian comedies and dramas, Animes that do not have the same old cliches but they are just that. Asian Media, and not Western media.

That’s it for the time being, as I have to research characters for my animation class in 2 hours

  • *wonder when to use female instead of woman, I did too and went here for help : Grammar Girl Woman Versus Female
  • Want to see who may be the most magnificent looking woman in the world, well at least in my top 3 then
  • The eyes, the lips, the hair, the Chiaki. I even forgive her sometimes sickly waifness and young appearance too. More chiaki

She was in Kill Bill as GoGo Yubari but I first saw her in the classic “Battle Royale“. I plan on putting myself in this class picture

Class 3-B, Graduating number of students, two..ehh one..oh, none.

Class 3-B, Graduating number of students, two..ehh one..oh, none.


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One response to “Asians in Hollywood = Martial Arts, Geishas and Mr Miyagi

  1. Pingback: Battle Angel Alita Trailer | Links I Like | Rant A. Tonne·

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