Week 2 Blog by Danny Truong

It is the Second week of school and I have been settling into my Asian American Studies class. I had just binged watched the first season of Fresh off the Boat and I could already notice the extremely oriental stereotypes from the first episode. I believe it might have been because O’Brien told us to watch with a critical eye, but even then, it seemed really exaggerated with the Stereotypes and I saw them right away, especially when some of the jokes could have been taken offensively.
What I noticed immediately from the first episode, was the incredibly Oriental accent of the wife, Jessica Huang. I have some Chinese Heritage, but hearing a voice like that seemed rather jarring, especially since everyone else had a pretty unexaggerated accent. If anyone had an accent, it was definitely overshadowed by Jessica’s accent. It seemed to be one of the major Stereotypes that I first noticed in the show. From my understanding, the audience needs to know that “Hey! This is a Chinese family” and seeing that she had such an accent, it would definitely give off that message. However, it could almost be taken offensive. There weren’t any jokes that made fun of her accent, but considering how exaggerated it was, it could almost be offensive. In addition to her accent, Jessica had an extremely stingy personality in the first few episodes. It was really jarring since I wasn’t sure if stinginess was another Chinese Stereotype until I looked it up. As it turned out, it was a Chinese stereotype. Another Stereotype is her very near obsession with high grades with her children. She is always expecting high grades, and it gets ridiculous to the point that when one of her sons did get good grades, she said the school was too easy and wanted to take him to a “Chinese Learning Center”. Jessica just seems to exemplify the Chinese stereotypes in media
As for Eddie Huang, he seemed to defy the Chinese stereotypes. He seemed to like the Hip-Hop style that he learned from a Cousin, rather than “Traditional” Chinese culture. Frequently speaks in gangster slang and in the first episode we saw him wanting to buy some “gangster” style clothing. He seems to be the Chinese surrogate in the school, the person that other people react to. Rather than react to his personality, they seem to react to him in terms of him being a Chinese person, rather than through his Hip-Hop personality (which really contrasts his Chinese appearance). Such as another kid believing that he had a really Chinese name. And Eddie’s food being really smelly to the other kids at the table (it was noodles with soy sauce). Rather than exemplify the Chinese stereotypes, he seems to be a victim of discrimination, just for being Chinese, which then makes him want to push even further away from his Chinese Culture.
Louis Huang is the Father of Eddie and opened his restaurant in Orlando. Louis doesn’t seem to exemplify the Chinese stereotypes all that much and seemed more like another victim of Chinese Stereotypes, not as a victim of discrimination, but because his wife. His wife is very stingy, which results in a lot of Antics in his restaurant. He thinks in a relatively “American” way (spending money to invest into something that would make more money, rather than be stingy). Such as the time he wanted to hire a white guy to be the face of the restaurant so people feel more comfortable. In general, he doesn’t seem to follow the Chinese Stereotype all that much.
Grandma Huang is the grandmother of Eddie. She is fits the Chinese stereotype relatively well but she seemed to already have non-Chinese traits to her. She has some Chinese traits to her, like only speaking in Chinese, having bound feet (traditional Chinese beauty technique), having knowledge of Chinese Rituals (she had to cleanse the mechanical bull of bad luck in one of the episodes), having a room full of Traditional Chinese Stereotypical materials (red tapestries, tassels, statues of a guardian lion, etc). However, she has been shown to like playing poker a lot, rather than mahjong. She likes Garfield (she asked for them in the Bad Luck Cleansing ritual but didn’t need them and was keeping them self herself). She is relatively okay with Eddie’s Hip-Hop habits and is even willing to play along by playing the boom-box when Eddie walks in when Eddie requests it. She definitely has her quirks and they show up when they are funny. Since she isn’t one of the main characters, they obviously couldn’t have her evolve those traits.
Overall though, despite the Exemplified traits, the family evolves over time to adapt to their new surroundings. If anything, the Chinese Stereotypes fade away as the series progresses. Jessica is less stingy after she found out that she likes being in real estate and got a job in one. She is more willing to let her children have fun rather than just have them study constantly. She is even shown to like Stephen King movies which gets her some white friends like Honey. If anything, the Chinese Stereotypes is to just to show the dramatic evolvement of the characters as the series went on. Like the difference between -2 and 10 is a bigger than the difference between 2 and 10. It is a lot easier to evolve flawed characters from the start than it is to evolve well balanced characters.
In regards to my Class on Tuesday, we predominantly discussed the definition of various words that would be frequently discussed in class. It was actually an exercise where people got a sheet of people and got into groups and write what we think the definition of a word is. This is actually a fairly important exercise, since many words can mean different things and with different interpretations. Like the difference between “Gender” and “Sex”. “Sex” is the biological gender, being a woman or a man genetically and nothing more. “Gender” being what the person identifies with, and what roles that they need to play. Like “only women can wear dresses” or “only men can like football” are examples of “gender roles”. We all participated in adding to the class definition of “Prejudice”, “Power”, “Discrimination”, and “Privilege”.

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