Last week our class was introduced to the thought provoking documentary “Slaying the Dragon”. The documentary chronicles the portrayal of Asian American and Asian women in western films. This media perpetuated the orientalist stereotypes of these women, who were depicted as exotic and passive. These stereotypes are manifested through two reoccurring archetypes: the dragon lady and the lotus flower. The dragon lady is sexual, mysterious, and deceptive. Meanwhile, the lotus flower is pure, submissive, and obedient. The documentary examined excerpts of wartime films from the 1920’s-1960’s which casted white men who encountered the lotus flower archetype along the plot. The characterization of these Asian women in these early films began to perpetuate stereotype to the western audience.
The second half of the documentary shift its focus from the origins of these stereotypes to the modern ramifications of the continuous orientalist depiction of Asian women. Many white men were interviewed and they all shared this fetish with Asian women because of what they had seen through media. Many Asian American women were also interviewed. These women noted that they became aware of these men’s misconceptions about Asian women. These men expected the asian women that they encountered to have personalities and characteristics like those they had been exposed to through media. I was blown away by the segment about the Asian American women news anchors. Many news stations in the industry began to cast one Asian American woman onto their panel. The women who were casted seemed to be a modern manifestation of the lotus flower archetype. They all shared this ultra conservative image that catered to the average american’s misconception of the lotus flower. Unfortunately, the misconceptions of these women can be seen in many aspects of our society.