The influence from the entertainment industry is huge, and it can impact a lot of things because it’s where people of all ages spend time feeding on stories, finding examples and role models. Hollywood and Broadway have been influencing humans from kids to adults to elders. The fact that these are the most powerful sources in one of the most diverse countries in the world, they are not doing a great job when it comes to representing that diversity. We have seen people of color on screens. Is having actors of color walking in the background or working as extras in a gas station scene with one line purposely to just strengthen the same stereotype we have been using to make fun of their race called a representation? Not only is there a lack of representation of Asian people and the representation for the variety of color in Asian Community. Hollywood and Broadway are doing a terrible job representing Asian women and girls.
When it comes to female asian roles in a movie, we often don’t visualize them as the supporting roles – trouble makers, the lead roles – the girls next door or the popular mean girls – Regina Goerge. Instead we think of a character who’s not important to the story at all, but she’s quite memorable because she is a sexy assassin on a mission from a yakuza gang in Tokyo to kill a lead male character. She also doesn’t have any lines. She doesn’t talk, which makes her so mysterious and even sexier than she already is. On the other hand, we also have young female Asian characters who are the main characters to the story. This one isn’t as sharp, cold and mysterious, but you will fall for her youth, innocence and fragility. Then there’s not a lot of mentions about Southeast Asian women except once in a while mostly in an action movie where the lead male character is on a mission in China, and he happens to be on some beautiful beach in Thailand with some Thai prostitute characters in the background. Those are not even the same country nor the same region, but when the setting is somewhere in Asia, the writer needs to take the audience on a vacation in Thailand to play the stereotype that Thai women are equal prostitutes. Then if it’s an older female character, they already see her as not beautiful enough, and the only role she’ll play would be a lady in a fish market. Other than that we have no representation of Southeast Asian women, and when it comes to South Asians, there’s just no at all. Writers and producers probably don’t realize that the pattern they keep creating for these female characters actually hurts Asian women and girls in real life. It’s been a struggle, pain, trauma and embarrassment for a lot of us. Guys don’t look at us and see us as “interestingly mysterious,” or “warm-hearted innocent youthful.” THEY SEE US AS SEX TOYS. They assume they can speak to us on the street like sexual objects with no power to fight back because we are so innocent and fragile. Sometimes they think that we only care about money that they even offer us a price. What the media has been presenting young Asian women, is like commercial marketing products for men. If they like it rough then they go with the ninja assassin one. If they like to be in control, go with the Lolita one. How come we don’t see female asians as the lead girl in a science fiction adventure movie who is sent in the woods to kill or be killed by
other components? How come we don’t tell a story of an Asian girl who goes on a ship and falls in love with a stranger, but the ship breaks, and becomes the greatest love story of all time? How come we don’t focus on a dreamer who happens to be an Asian teen, and she just moved from Philadelphia to New York City to attend a performing arts school, and it’s about to be competitive? Why don’t we watch a fantasy witchy movie and see an Asian actor playing the Fairy Queen or one of the hybrid vampire-witches?
Part of the reason they don’t cast Asian women for those roles might be because we don’t have as many Asian actors as we have for other ethnicities, but there are enough out there that are hard working, talented and trained, and only get hired as extras if they get hired at all. There also will be more Asian actors if the industry starts changing things around because if the industry itself doesn’t even open a door for Asians then there just won’t be more Asian actors? Some people might disagree with this article and say that we have ‘Lara Jean’ from ‘All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.’ Yes, that is a good example of how the industry should at least be at the minimum. It is a huge step that we are starting there, but compared to how many films and shows the industry produces each month, having one to prove the point is nothing. We are having a good start, but we have to know that we have a long way to go. to call it a success. representations have to be normal and average. To do that, we have to start today.
Author | Napaht Na Nongkhai