The movie shown on Thursday in class this week spoke to an idea that I myself as an Asian American was too afraid to believe. The lack of Asian American heroes in modern media is certainly troubling. The movie had accounts of Asian American film stars that told stories of growing up watching Bruce Lee movies. They said that those movies made them proud to be Asian Americans and allowed them to walk the streets with their heads up. I don’t know if I ever had that thought growing up.
Honestly if there were more Asian Americans seen in hero roles or at the very least the lead character then I might not feel so strongly about this. Latino and African Americans might appear in movies more than Asians but their roles always seem to be racialized and oftentimes marginalized. For second or third generation Asian Americans, our lives do not seem so different from the ones portrayed in the movies. Yet when an Asian finally gets a role in movies or TV, the character always seems to have racial overtones even if they are minor. The lack of Asian American male sex appeal in media is more apparent to me after the film and it bothers me to know that audiences do not test an Asian American man kissing a hot, sexy singer-actress positively, probably with race probably being a reason even if its deep in the subconsciousness.
I really do not think I have the same experience as the actors looking up to Bruce Lee and feeling proud to be Asian American. I just feel like the movies and TV have let me down by mostly showing Asians in a stereotyped fashion. I do agree with the movies notion that this cannot change until Asians are infiltrated into the industry itself as producers, writers, and directors. The worst part is that this goes beyond just Asians and really can apply to diversity in general. The population is getting more diverse and I can only hope that in turn American media might follow suit.