Monday, December 9, 2019

Negative Stereotypes of Asian Americans free essay sample

Rising Against Negative Stereotypes of Asian Americans in Popular Culture That Developed Throughout History Negative stereotypes of Asians have been collectively internalized by societies, and were manifested by a societys popular culture, including the media, literature, theatre, and other creative expressions. Throughout Americas history, Asian Americans have been conceived, treated, and portrayed as perpetual foreigners; un-assimilating and inherently foreign regardless of citizenship or duration of residence in America. These negative stereotypical views developed to what can be described as â€Å"the six faces of the oriental† which are the pollutant, the coolie, the deviant, the yellow peril, the model minority, and the gook (Lee, p. 8). Stereotypes like these have been preconceived overgeneralizations about a group, without regard to individual uniqueness. This is evident through numerous Supreme Court rulings, acts of legislature, and statements made in the nations media, such as Go back to China! (a familiar racist expression of xenophobia against Asian immigrants). The perceptions of Americans toward Asians in the media including characterizations of communication and social skills have drastically changed over the years. From the obvious negative stereotypes of the â€Å"six faces of the oriental† that developed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s to the perceived â€Å"positive† stereotype (but still actually negative) that occurred in the 1960’s to depict Asians as the â€Å"model minority,† the stereotypes never disappeared. These stereotypes placed on Asian Americans throughout history in popular culture were all negative, and today Asian Americans still experience these same negative racial stereotypes which we as Americans should strive to eliminate in order to grasp the idea of tolerance of Asian Americans in popular culture to create a less prejudiced society. The stereotypes of â€Å"the six faces of the oriental† derived from their ancestors during the time of immigration in the 1800’s and early 1900’s all portray a negative view toward Asian Americans. When Asian immigrants first arrived in the United States, they were welcomed as cheap labor. But after the California gold rush brought a flood of Asian immigrants to California, the cheap Asian labor began to be seen as a threat. What began as neutral or amusing stereotypical caricatures of Asians soon took on more negative connotations. The Coolie stereotype originated with Chinese laborers in the 1850’s as a way of preventing Chinese from entering the skilled trades. The lowest-paying unskilled jobs were called coolie labor or nigger work. The Yellow Peril or pollutant stereotype (referring to the â€Å"White American fear†) began to take hold in the 1890’s in California. Asians were viewed as alien and a threat to wage earners, and a movement began that had the goal of making California racially pure (Lee, p. 8). During this time, politicians and writers expressed numerous anti-Asian views, with headlines like The Yellow Peril' (Los Angeles Times, 1886) and Conference Endorses Chinese Exclusion (The New York Times, 1905). The Gook stereotype originated with the US Military during the Korean War as a generic term for Asians, and became more popular during the Vietnam War. A gook is an invisible and powerful enemy with superhuman endurance and ability to absorb punishment. The Model Minority stereotype originated in the 1950’s as a representation of successful assimilation of Asians that was contrasted with the less successful assimilation of those who did not fit the standards. Although this may have been perceived as a positive stereotype, this, like all of the six faces of the oriental, was still a negative stereotype because those who did not meet the qualifications of the â€Å"model minority† were looked down upon and discriminated against. These different yet similar labels set upon Asian Americans during the course of history all demonstrate a negative view toward Asian Americans, which can be proved with the evidence found within their popular culture. These negative racial stereotypes of Asian Americans displayed within history can be revealed within Asian American popular culture through various songs, movies, and other types of media for amusement or as a way to classify Asian Americans as being the inferior race. The depictions of Asians in popular culture, specifically the movies, were portrayed as servants, laborers, and laundrymen. In the pre-war era, there was no American Asian actor portraying an Asian hero. Throughout the course of history Asians in film have been portrayed as â€Å"evil† or the yellow peril. If Asians are not being classified as evil in this picture then they are most likely the comic relief, with their lack of coordination or grasp of the English language. With these common stereotypes in place, it gives a white American viewer a sense or need to destroy this Asian villain or superiority over the comedic character ortrayed in the film. The image of a kindly servant or detective, or a glamorous siren was ended when Pearl Harbor turned the Japanese into cruel and inhuman militarists. Now Japan was depicted as an enemy of unexampled ferocity and greed. â€Å"Yellowbellies†, â€Å"yellow bastards†, â€Å"yellow monkeys† were all standard phrases (Lee, 159-160). In the many Pacific War movies the Japanese were depicted without morals and killers even of prisoners and the wounded, as well as women and children. The media, both informative and entertainment, made certain that the American public realized that â€Å"the Japanese dared to challenge the dominant white establishment † (Lee, 171). By depicting them so sadistically, the media made certain that the Japanese, in particular, would be looked upon as an inhuman, or as an uncivilized race. This had to do with the effects of the attacks of Pearl Harbor where, as a result, Japanese Americans were treated with hatred and racial prejudice. This was based on the idea that because the Japanese bombed America, all Japanese were seen as enemies that could not be trusted. This image persisted until after Hiroshima and Nagasaki felt the terror of an atomic bomb, and Japan surrendered. These stereotypes exposed in Asian American popular culture that reflected the stereotypes that derived from Asian American historical events were far from tolerable and should not have been acceptable then or now. The negative views of Asian Americans in popular culture unfortunately did not diminish over time, and although stereotypes changed to be more â€Å"positive†, these discriminatory labels can still be observed today in recent popular culture. Among the stereotypes about Asian Americans, the model minority  stereotype might be the most pervasive and dominant one today. This developed during the 1960’s when the Asian American resistance movement was beginning. Asian Americans were then proclaimed as a â€Å"model minority for their academic excellence, affluence, strong work ethic, freedom from problems and crime, and family cohesion. They are typically represented as overachievers who are intelligent, industrious, technologically savvy, self-disciplined, self-sufficient, and law-abiding. Although this may seem like a good stereotype, a stereotype is still a stereotype, and this was still in fact negative because those who did not fit the â€Å"model minority† were looked down upon. This model minority stereotype can be seen in recent popular culture. Some examples are the characters portrayed by George Huang  in Law Order: SVU, Cristina Yang  in Greys Anatomy, and Archie Kao  in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. These characters are portrayed in roles that emphasize attributes of higher education, intelligence, and professional work ethic. An Intel Centrino Ad, launched in 2005, also depicts the â€Å"model minority† stereotype. While marketing mobile technology, the ad campaign features well known celebrities like pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, actor John Cleese, singer Seal, and soccer player Michael Owen, but makes Lucy Liu (the personified laptop entertainment) the primary focus of the ad. It is  conceivable that Intel used her Asian image to attach associations of high quality and intelligence to the Intel product. Therefore it is evident that negative stereotypes are clearly visible in today’s popular culture and reflect the negative stereotypes produced in earlier history. Although racial stereotypes are often camouflaged or rendered invisible, once produced as a category of social difference it is present everywhere in the social formation and deeply imbedded in the popular culture† (Dave, Nishime, and Oren, p. 7) Once these stereotypes are produced, it can be said that they will remain within popular culture as time continues. This however, is very unfortunate and it is vital that as Ame ricans we rise against the negatively stereotyped Asian Americans and protest against popular culture that still exposes these stereotypes like the model minority. For Asian Americans, the United States has never been a place in which true assimilation and equality is possible as a result of prejudice and stereotypes. Asian Americans have come a long way from a history of discrimination and segregation that other racial minorities have also faced. The racial labels including the â€Å"six faces of the oriental†, slurs, and fear of being an economic threat developed through popular culture during the 1800’s and 1900’s and still persist in current society. With these cultural representations already determined by the outside world, it has been increasingly more difficult for one to break such representation due to factors in society normalizing these representations with the use of the media in popular culture. Examining this issue in a historical perspective, a pattern is established in which Asians are continually being objectified into some negative label for white America. It is up to the current population of America to once and for all reak this pattern so that Asian Americans, as well as other races, can be observed in popular culture without being negatively stereotyped. We all must come together and protest by vocalizing against any forms of popular culture that negatively stereotype Asian Americans. Our founding fathers wanted to create a nation where â€Å"all men are created equal† and it is only fair to any American to make them feel this statement to be true. Hopefully there will come a day when stereotypes will be diminished completely, and we can finally live in a country where all men are truly created equal.

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