But what if I’m in the middle of the spectrum?

I wonder if that is what a lot of Asian-American actors/actresses think of their characters when being casted. While this is posted under femininity, I plan on discussing a little bit of both male and female Asian Americans in the media because for both sexes, there are such limiting roles, in which they are either FAR TOO FEMINIZED or extremely “masculine,” or dangerous/scary/threatening etc. That was clearly seen in the documentaries, clips, and readings from class this past week. It really made me think to myself, not only are Asian-Americans not often seen in the media, but when they are/have been, it has been in these very detailed, artificial, and extreme end of the spectrum roles. How frustrating must that be as an actor? And more importantly, how frustrating must that be as an Asian-American watching people that look like “you,” on the screen and thinking that people either view you as a nerdy, weak, wimpy, and anti-social male or one that hurts people, is skilled at martial arts, and doesn’t express warmth. As a woman, Asian American women have either been portrayed as these exotic creatures that drive a man wild with all the crazy tricks that other women seemingly have no knowledge or bravery to perform or super quiet and submissive. We see these characters all of the time and I know that prior to this class, it just kinda seemed normal. I think actually sitting here has opened a different perspective for how problematic it really can be. It is nice to know that there is a push towards change and shifting of these character versatilities/depth/complexities. I think some of the most standout lines in the documentaries that we watched were when certain actors said they preferred to play the typical “evil/conniving” asian character because it was better than playing the quiet/powerless one male. I thought that it was interesting because I think this particular actor found a way to express at least some form of agency. But, it is certainly true that going through these character roles in the media, it really is usually an Asian woman that “replaces,” or “takes the spot/steals,” female part in a marriage–usually between a white male and a white female. The Asian-American woman is typically younger and embodies this shiny, new, almost accessory like role in a movie or tv show when the husband starts a new relationship. I feel that constantly having that be the role assumed by an Asian American woman can be problematic because it casts all asian women as husband stealers or prop like. I actually don’t think I recall any relationship (in the media) where it is the opposite and the “new woman,” is a race different than Asian and the long term wife is Asian. It paints this image that asian women are toxic to “happy and healthy,” marriages between two white heterosexual people. For men, I can only imagine how upsetting it must feel to not want to be regarded as “too quiet,” but also knowing they’re not aggressive or dangerous. There really isn’t enough asian male romantic leads who have a balance of “masculine,” and “romantic/sweet/soft/gentle,” qualities. I agree with the author of the reading we did where she states that in order to shift a little bit of that, we, as a society, should really shift the way we even define or accept masculinity. Masculinity doesn’t have to be a strong macho karate kicking man who never cries etc. I think that was such a powerful statement, and I would love to see that transpire.


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