yellowfever (final video project)

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Where the asian men at though?

Watching the film on asian american and pornography in class really made me think about what a lack of strong and confident asian men there are in the porn industry. I mean, evidently it has been a lot more than just a lack of strong and confident asian men in the porn industry, as we have seen this pattern in all areas of entertainment and pop culture. But the little trailer created by the Asian professor to me was really powerful and made an impression on me. I did think it was a bit funny, seeing as it clearly had a 1990’s feel to it. But it made an impression! That’s the point of media, right? To communicate a sort of message? It did just that for me. On one hand, I’ll admit that I have noticed how porn truly is just catered to a very specific audience. The foundation of that audience has mainly been  males. When one looks at a porn clip or film, is the camera ever focused on the male? Not really. In fact, the majority of the time, you barely even see his face! It’s all about the woman and how she pleases the male. There are instances when males have been shown, but thinking back to any videos I’ve ever seen, it’s never–not once– been an asian man. What is that saying?

Now if we focus on the asian women in porn videos, I mean it typically goes to some very specific role. She’s either a submissive quiet girl pleasing a man. Honestly, and this may not be entirely accurate seeing as I’m going into my memory bank, but that man usually is white. I don’t recall seeing a quiet submissive, and eager to please asian woman having sex with an asian man. If she’s not submissive, she’s a commanding and dominatrix-like asian woman. Again, typically her role has been with another caucasian man. I really cannot recall seeing any video where an asian man played anything but a man confident in his sexual experience with another woman. I think that’s why the porn trailer created by the professor was so moving. Not only did it actually put an asian american male in front of the camera, but he was paired with another asian american woman, who was just that. A confident asian american woman exploring her sexuality with another man. Simple and to the point. Just another sensual and sexual porn film with two people. No roles and no gimmicks.

Master of None Asian Women

The authorship in Master of None was definitely noticeable. Not because it was extremely horrible. On the contrary, it was extremely great at presenting an in your face and authentic representation of reality. The opening scene of the pilot episode was a sex scene between a man of color and a white woman. Honestly, yeah, threw me off a bit. But, I kept watching and do I not, Not NOT regret that decision!

It does not go unnoticed by most fans of the show that white women are predominately his love interests. The only Asian woman (Annie Chang) that went to dinner and made an appearance as a potential love interest of Dev was only in it for the free food. She definitely wasn’t the one in bed with Dev in the pilot episode. What does this say about this writer/producer’s choice? It can be interpreted in a lot of ways. From a comical standpoint, it points out this idea of dinner dates as just free dinners that can just be the main motive as to why women would give men the time of day and vice versa. And thinking of it like this, can make it hilarious. Maybe, the choice was to not perpetuate this stereotype and avoid painting an image of orientalist Asian woman in the opening scene. It can also be interpreted as a message that says that not all Asian women are hypersexual beings: and can only be either the dragon lady or the lotus blossom. It could have been the choice to make a claim that those aren’t the only two personas Asian women can have when it comes to their sexuality as well as character. Since there is an Asian women fetish in porn as well, that just made the decision speak for itself? OR MAYBE, these could be totally wrong assumptions about the possible reasons why.

What is about to be noted here does not focus on the headline, but I just want to attach it to this post, and it is that the second episode “Parents” was one of my favorites. As mentioned by Amy Lam on bitchmedia.org, “It’s a story that’s so common for children of immigrants. But the part of what brought me to tears, as a first-generation American myself, was realizing how painful and true and jarring it is to see our narratives reflected back to us on screens that have ignored our stories for so long.” Lam was able to sum up my experience with this episode in just 2 sentences and that just highlights the collective experience immigrant children have. It also says something about this show and how this particular episode was able to captivate the true realities of lived-experiences that the network primetime television shows I have been exposed to, have failed at attempting to portray.

Like Lam, I am hoping to see more women of color included in the second season as well. Of course I do not require this demand to be met. The show in itself has done so much on accurately presenting & representing realistic experiences and there are much thanks to be given to that. But I won’t deny that it would be nice to see Asian women also being represented as well as presented.

Porn Oh Porn

It’s not everyday you get to talk about porn in class. Unless you’ve taken Human Sexuality with the Baldwins, then that is a different story. Though what you don’t learn in that class is how Asian women are portrayed in porn. Porn is an industry made by males for male pleasure. This provides an even harder time for women to seek agency. In the porn industry, Asian women are portrayed almost as if the same on the big screen. Asian women are hyper sexualized along with not even being truly portrayed as Asian. Most of the porn was played through yellow face and had certain distinctions that was supposed to deem the women as Asian. These characteristics were along the lines of chopsticks in the hair, the mysterious fan, the gong sound, and accentuated Asian eyes. But of course we are all too familiar with this, as we see it in the movies like Charlie’s Angels with Lucy Liu. The extreme exoticism with Asian women is still seen even in the porn industry. The funny thing is, the main focus of these stag films were not the Asian woman’s genitals, but what makes up this Asian woman. So how do we go about solving this exoticism problem?

Asian Fetish in Porn

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.

Let’s get RAW with API Sexuality #GetIt?

In the recent readings by Celine Parrenas Shimizu, a deeper explanation of the sexuality is explained. From the beginnings of Stag Porn in the early 20s, the representation of Asian Americans has also been iconized. However, at its very roots of early API representation is the same recurring issue of “Yellowface”. In Hypersexuality of Race, for example, donning accentuated API features such as “more chinky” eyes, kimono dresses, and a tight bun fastened by chopsticks, API women in particular remain the subject of extreme objectification and exotification despite the fact that the women portraying them were usually white.

And because these early films were also soundless, there seemed to be an emphasis on showing the trinkets and accessories that these yellowfaced white women wore. Instead of showing the genitalia of the men and women (called the “money shot” or “come shot”) Parrenas-Shimizu explains how they focused instead on what the woman was wearing, to emphasize how “orient” she was through her clothing. This asserts the racialization of sexuality: through these films, sex organs cannot be racialized because they’re simply sex organs, but Asian caricatures can definitely be manifested through the medium. Within the book, stills from Stag films underline this trend, where instead of a couple having sex, they would do close-ups of the woman’s eyeliner or the jade-encrusted sandals that she was wearing.

This, once again, demonstrates how Asian women came to possess the stereotypes and generalizations that they have today. Seeping into the mainstream as a sexual object, Asian women were portrayed as an attainable “prize” for these men; encouraging miscegenation at a time of “sexual experimentation and liberation”.

Shifting to API men, on the other hand, they were very well represented in the media either. Through war films that emphasize and mold the ideals of masculinity, imperialist notions depict white, buff men to be the unattainable status quo. Earlier this year, we also learned that API men were demonized during the war to embody and fit the caricatures of Fu Manchu. In addition to being heavily “othered”, API men were deemed to be subservient and inferior to white military men. Bouncing back to this notion, porn also validates that notion. In gay porn, API men are often the “bottoms”, the ones that are receiving. In Shimizu’s analysis, this role that they are often cast as without discretion demonstrates the reinforcing notion that API men are the passive individuals and often subvert to the white male.

As for both, there seems to be a huge emphasis on the idea that APIs are the fetish of the dominant culture. Seen both as clean-shaven, bare, raw, etc. only proves demonstrates that ALL mediums of the screen perpetuate this inferiority complex pertaining to Asian Americans.

Late, Tired, and Miffed

I read about the early roots of the porn industry’s current fetishizing of Asian and Asian American women and I was surprised at the amount of yellowface that happened. In the 1920s stag porn depicted Asian women as desirable but wouldn’t let them represent themselves in pornography. While I’m not sure that pornography is the kind of media where one would expect proper representation, the amount of yellowface happening in that arena was shocking. I didn’t think I could even be that offended by yellowface but I think it was the combination of depicting something as desirable while also not showing it that set me off. It reminds me of most food commercials where the product in the commercial is a prettied up inedible object that’s supposed to look like the real thing. That might be a bit of stretch but here’s a better analogy: imagine a commercial for an animal shelter where you can adopt dogs except all the dogs in the advertisement are really horses that are painted to look like dogs. That’s basically what 20s stag porn did.

As bad as it may be that Asian women are highly sexualized in today’s media, at the very least they’re depicted as such with Asian women. With anti-Asian sentiment I find it easier to understand why yellowface would be such an appealing option (because Asians are so terrible that they don’t deserve to even represent themselves as being terrible or something like that) but with porn it just doesn’t make sense. Pornography purposely makes some aspect of someone sexualized but 20s stag porn won’t even cast Asian women. I wonder if this ever bothered anybody who consumed this pornography during the time period. I’d think it would be like ordering tea and having someone give you a glass of warm water and telling you to pretend that its tea. Going back to the yellowface, something else that really bothers me is how much effort they put into making these “Asian” affectations.

I won’t lie, in some of the pictures I’ve seen of yellowface I can almost buy that the character is played by an Asian. However, the idea that someone probably spent a lot of time and effort putting make-up and prosthetics on a white woman instead of finding an Asian woman to play the part blows my mind. The porn industry today is all about money and I’m going to guess that even in its infancy the same can still be said of it. That being said, make-up artists, prosthetics, and all of those goofy clothes they put on a white woman to make her look Asian have to be expensive. Would hiring an Asian woman really cost more than all of that? From my present-day perspective it just doesn’t make any sense and it’s very frustrating reading about things like this from the past.