In this video, I attempt to illustrate a progression of an Asian American experience as a result of misrepresentations of them in the media. My idea was to debunk this stereotype of how Asian Americans are expected to be the sidekick or the underdog. What the media has done is influenced young Asian Americans and their perception of how they should act in a white hegemony and give them no agency when facing injustice and a constant silencing. This video should illustrate how, as life progresses, the Asian American eventually has enough of the disrespect and has an agency to turn his situation around.
Who would have thought that someone had dedicated 10 + years of their research on Hello Kitty. At first I was a bit spectacle, then intrigued and then dumbstruck that Christine R. Yano had found larger issues and ideas that can be observed through Hello Kitty. I definitely have taken Hello Kitty for granted because Yano takes note of things about Hello Kitty that I never thought of before. For instance, why is hello kitty a global icon, how has hello kitty last so long in mainstream trends, how is the representation (or invisible representation) of Japan and Asian/Americans in general conveyed in Hello Kitty. I found Christine R. Yano’s Pink Globalization extremely interesting because of all of these thought provoking questions I never knew I needed answered to understand a part of my life of the past and how it connects to my childhood and growing up as an Asian American.
It blew me away to read about Sanrio’s marketing plan in attracting a variety of ages to its brand and how it is actually quite brilliant. I was obsessed with Hello Kitty. Every time I went to the mall, I would make it routine to walk into the store and buy at least one thing. When I had possession of any Sanrio items whether it was self-bought or a gift, I actually never really brought myself to use them. Most of the time I would showcase them or put them in a drawer for self keeping. Even today, I catch myself walking into the store to look around the store at the very least, but I refrain from buying anything because I trained myself not to buy anything that would become clutter. Just being in the store is enough, I guess it feeds off of how Yano was saying that Hello Kitty is a global icon and so has also become a childhood memory. I can personally say that I get excited when I see my baby cousins get Hello Kitty themed anything.
Another though provoking thing about Hello Kitty is how in the US, hello kitty embodies cuteness, but Yano finds a way to unpack how hello kitty suggests sexual innuendos especially towards its adult consumers. Anyway, I think what Yano inferred about the color of pink and its connection to the gender roles society had put women in, was also interesting. She talks about submissive females putting themselves in a subjugated position fulfilling such gender roles when they blush because blushing signifies weakness and powerlessness. Yano ultimately depicts the issues of powerlessness held in Hello Kitty’s signature color.
I thought Yano was able to add some interesting perspective on an icon I never thought twice of why HK is everywhere and was able to uphold it’s popularity, a phase that is still growing strong for young girls and older women.
Okay, so for the most part, this will be an anti-Asian American sentiment. Sure, it’s cool that people like Asians more, in contrast to how yellow peril had dehumanized and villainized them, but when Asian/Americans are represented in the context of such things as porn, I think it’s pretty sad that Asian/Americans are used as a fetish. In Shimizu’s book, The Hypersexuality of Race, she mentions how when it comes to the money shot for Asian/Americans, it is a shot of their face, instead of the genital shot. Compared to white porn actresses, with white on white porn, the money shot is purely on the sex, while when it comes to Asians, the targeted audience gain pleasure of the fact that the porn feeds this Oriental fantasy. I am not surprised by the surface level depiction of Asians shown through objects like fans, kimono-like robes, and chopsticks in the hair. The fact that porn is an industry for white, heterosexual, cis-gender males is so typical for Asian women to be objectified and exploited to feed this white fetish fantasy of the Oriental woman.
Porn itself is seen so taboo that I wouldn’t even have thought to look in that direction for how Asian/Americans are represented in the media. Ultimately, I think it is important that if Asian Americans want to have agency on how they are represented, all aspects of media should be taken into account. It is especially important to challenge the industries that continue to feed the dominant culture, in order to really take a stand on how Asian/Americans are depicted in the media.
Tuesday night was the first time I had ever been to a predominately spoken word open mic night and it was actually really inspiring. Fong Tran is a really cool spoken word poet and although I am not Vietnamese, there were some cultural markers that I resonated with. Tran spoke about how much parents give. This reminded me about the many things my parents had done and sacrificed for me and my siblings when growing up. He also helped me realize how I can sometimes act like an ungrateful child. I take these blessings I have for granted and it makes me feel ashamed. I know there are plenty of stories I have yet to hear about my parents and how they grew up. Going through college, I realized how the older we get, the more we want to actively learn about our parents’ lives, the one before our existence. I don’t know. Fong Tran just touched home really hard and reminded me that I should appreciate my roots and my parents.
Another thing he mentioned was that growing up as Asian American children, we were told to save face, so things like poetry or any forms of self-expression was not tolerable or accepted. I found this so true for me. A lot of the time I strongly feel like I have no voice. I grew up not knowing how to speak for myself, or to stand up for myself. I naturally made it so when a conflict comes up, I automatically take the blame and that I had an obligation to solve it. As proud as I am that I can handle situations for myself, I was not familiar with letting things go and setting things straight. In other words, I could not confidently say that the other person was in the wrong. Anyway, Tran brought me back to that idea that I do have a voice and it is okay to express it when necessary.
Overall, the open mic night was awesome and I had a great time! There were a lot of good pieces out there and a lot of great energy. I definitely felt inspired to try my hand at poetry and to let my mind roam free on paper, even if it’s meant only to be read by me. I want to let this stream of consciousness unravel itself and see where it will take me.
It is truly a great time to be alive. Ever since the internet has picked up, the world has definitely felt so much smaller. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BuzzFeed- you name it! People are having conversations about EVERYTHING, and because these social media outlets are so accessible and free for everyone, there are tons of people contributing to the discussions.
Asian Americans in particular are getting their limelight in American pop culture. This past year, there has been an increase of TV shows with Asian American lead roles than ever before. It is amazing! In reality of it all, the visibility of Asian Americans in the media isn’t something that happened overnight. So many individuals, organizations, and communities all have contributed to this moment in time.
There are different levels of effectiveness that these contributors had on Asian Americans in the media. As mentioned in Kent Ono’s Asian Americans and the Media, independent media by Asian Americans challenge the dominant media and their representations of Asian Americans on an individual scale. What Kent Ono was getting at with these artistic efforts by Asian Americans is that the impact these independent methods had was ineffective in starting some kind of movement. It is more of an inspiring source for Asian American audiences, rather than a driving force for a whole collective to do something about truly changing the dominant perception of Asian Americans in the media.
Moreover, as later mentioned in Kent Ono’s book and a documentary called A Survey About Asian Americans in Mainstream Media, these smaller outlets lead to bigger one’s that have the potential to shake the dominant media perceptions of Asian Americans. Activist groups, independent film festivals, and collaborations between well known YouTubers create a sense of community and support for the visibility of Asian Americans in the media, be it on the small screen or the big screen. It also had the effect of creating a sense of agency for Asian Americans to reclaim their sense of identity and community.
I honestly feel so lucky to live in a time when I can take a class about Asian Americans and learn about how we are viewed so poorly by the dominant collective. I have personally been influenced by this collective perception through TV shows that fed off of typical Asian stereotypes. Seeing the progress on network television, having that positive influence via You Tubers, and having the support I have found on campus through the API community and the Asian American Department, I feel so grateful to have this wisdom passed on to me. It inspires me to be proactive with Asian American representation in all forms of media, in addition to when it comes to simple conversations with friends or family. I feel I am capable of passing along what I have learned from my Asian American classes, my observations, and my everyday experiences to others.
Aside from the witty and hilarious lines from Eddie and Emery this episode, or the super adorable moments of Eddie and his friends figuring out dating, this episode touched upon something deep. I think that this episode gives light to a very important aspect to how we should, as Asian Americans, be representing ourselves… by being ourselves. I know that Jessica was so hung up on how Louis should have represented Chinese-Americans more. She didn’t like that he was on TV acting like a guy just doing impressions; however, those impressions are a part of who he is. When he went back on TV at the studio in order to do a better job, he thought way too much into it and how he should represent the larger Chinese-American community. However, in reality, to represent his community, all he needed to do was be him. One cannot hold the burden to represent all of Asian Americans. That is why this episode is so significant. It sends a message to Asian Americans to have an agency and to act upon and resist these ideas the dominant media puts out there. If we work as a whole and continue to support one another, then more Asian Americans will be seen more prominently in all media.
I also want to add how great it was to see a reference to Sixteen Candles because it was one way of reminding America how Asians and Asian Americans had been represented in the past and how that representation had repercussions on Louis for being Chinese. It gives visibility and awareness of these issues . Fortunately enough, the efforts of the Asian American community is showing results in progress with more Asian American castings and shows. Hurraayyy!!