Asians in film: The Wrap-Up

After watching 20 movies in two weeks, the one thing I can say for certain: movies are very formulaic. Each genre has a different formula, but after you them all right next to each other you figure it out very fast.

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Asians in Film: The Movies

If you were curious, finding twenty, prominent, movies with leading Asian characters is as difficult as it sounds. I initially decided to search through the highest grossing films of all time, then pick out the ones where an Asian received top billing. For those that don’t know, billing refers to the order that each actor/actresses names appear in the credits. The farthest forward names are the actor/actresses with the most star power and they are often, though not always the leads.

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Asians in Film: Update 1

So, I ran into my first set of problems right from the outset. For my project, I need to assess if a character is stereotypical. Naturally, I thought that I could just create a catalog of all indicators of stereotypes attributed to Asians. However, the more I tried to catalog it the more endless the list grew. Furthermore, many of the stereotypes were seemingly contradictory. For example, it is both stereotypical for Asian men to be considered weak and effeminate and it is also stereotypical for Asian men to be portrayed as predatory and dangerous ( This comes more from the WWII era). And the way that they are portrayed as either weak or effeminate are infinitely varied. It ranges from the way they talk, the way they dress, the way that they move around, etc. Sometimes movies even create their own riffs on stereotypes. For example, in the movie Sixteen Candles, a gong is sounded every time the Chinese exchange student, Long Luk Dong, Enters the scene. Obviously stereotypical, but there was no way that I would have thought to put it down as a sign of a stereotypical portrayal before I sat down and watched the movie.

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Abstract: Asian Representation in American Film

For my research project, I plan to study Asian representation in American film at the top level. I want to see what it looks like when Asian actors and actresses are able to break into the mainstream. Specifically, do they have to resort to playing stereotyped roles in order to break into the mainstream or is possible for them to get by playing more well-rounded roles?  

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