Week 3 by Danny Truong

Week 3 of my Asian American Studies class and from the looks of it, we are studying Asian Americans in the Media. It should have been a given considering that one of the text books is literally called “Asian Americans and the Media” by Kent A Ono. In particular, quite a few topics of interesting that I would like to discuss in this blog, starting with the in class discussing of Fresh Off the Boat.
My previous analysis of the show was actually rather flawed after discussing it in class. Previously, I thought of the stereotypes depicted in the show as an opportunity for character development. Eddie was already breaking a few stereotypes by being into Hip-Hop, a closely American thing. However, when it was brought up in class, this character trait has a more tragic meaning. I didn’t really catch it, but Eddie in general identifies with Hip-Hop as being “real”. At first, I thought, “well, maybe he just likes Hip-Hop so much that it is fun and ‘real’ is just a term for it being enjoyable.” However, Hip-Hop has been used as an outlet for minorities (like African Americans) to express themselves. It is a kind of expression that allows the minorities to break away from the Dominant White Culture; a form of resistance. With this interpretation, it takes on a new meaning of sorts. He doesn’t want to seem to assimilate into white culture. Since Hip-Hop is the outlet of minorities, it seems like a way to non-White American Cultures. Louis (Eddie’s father), however, seems to try to Assimilate into White Culture. He owns a very American Restaurant (it is a western style restaurant) in which he actually stole some ideas from a competing restaurant in episode 7. In short, he feels like American Culture is worth assimilating into and the fact that he owns a restaurant starts the plot of the whole series. In the first episode, he says that he doesn’t want to be stuck selling furniture for the rest of his life, so he chose to do this of his own free will, rather than feeling pressured to do so.
As for the many circumstances surrounding the show itself, rather than the show’s plot itself, Fresh Off the Boat is quite an important show to come out in regards to Asian American depictions in media. http://www.asamnews.com/2015/01/31/fresh-off-the-boats-11-year-old-star-learns-why-his-show-is-a-big-deal/. The last show with mostly Asian American Cast was shown over 20 years ago. Asian Americans just have not been getting a lot of representation in the media compared to the Dominant group. Even worse, Asian Americans have been depicted as villains in movies. In “Asian Americans and the Media”, the book mentioned that in the “The Fast and the Furious”, one of the antagonists is a group of Asian American gangsters that represent the Yellow Peril, which is basically the fear of Asian Americans(40-41). The book goes into a lot of detail of the Yellow Peril and how it got started.
Asian Americans in the media also have some rather unfair depictions in the media. In class, the Dominant culture is the Rich, White Male. Rich, Hetero, White Males are praised as being the ultimate culture in America, even if a tiny minority are actually part of it. The culture of this Dominant class is omnipresent in America. Because of this Omnipresence, media usually has to bend around to appeal to this culture, since it is the Dominant one after all. Because of this, it tends to be that the depictions of minorities is done in a stereotypical way. It is because of a combination of trying to say “this is the Asian/Black guy/Latino guy” and trying to appeal to the dominant audience. And this has feed-back loop effect. Since it would be unlikely to for a minority to go pay money to watch a piece of media (film, tv show, etc) to watch their ethnicity be depicted in such an offending way, then it means that even fewer minorities go and watch the films that appeal to the dominant culture. While I do acknowledge that there are many shows that can be there to appeal to the minority groups, the fact that the shows that the dominant culture watches can get potentially more and more offensive to minorities means that it kind of becomes the norm and can spread outside the media itself.
The last topic of interest is the concept of Diaspora. Diaspora in the Context of the Asian American Studies class is the migration of people from a “peripheral” area to a “core” area. What peripheral and core mean can vary depending on the context. Like how people from Europe in the 1880s migrated to the US to escape poverty. Europe was the “peripheral” and the US was the “Core”. In the “peripheral”, there are push factors that encourage people to leave the area. Such push factors include: war, poverty, famine, etc. In the “core”, there are pull factors that encourage people to move to that location. Such pull factors include: Job opportunities, safety, liberation from oppression etc. Now, there is usually some sort of trade between the peripheral and core areas. The peripheral provides labor and raw resources to work with like minerals, gems, rubber, oil, etc. The core provides investments into factories in the peripheral areas, material goods, etc. There is usually some sort of trade agreement between the Core and Peripheral, establishing that they are trade partners. Now, because of the lack of regulations in the peripheral areas, outsourcing the job there is common. Because of the lack of regulation, less money can go into paying the workers and safety standards, the finished goods can be made for much cheaper. Environmental regulations are also nearly non-existent so the environment around degrades as well. All of this combined can actually CREATE the push factors that push people from the peripheral areas and into the core areas. Diaspora is a self-sustaining loop. People leave peripheral area, the core finds more peripheral areas to work. It is a continuous cycle.


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