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Asian American Stereotypes in Film

Essay by   •  November 27, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,392 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,643 Views

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Asian Americans only make up a small percent of the American population. Even more significant is that this percentage live mostly on the west and east coasts of mainland United States and Hawaii; leaving the rest of the American population to most likely get their exposures to Asians through television and movies. However the exposure they have receive throughout the history of cinematography has been hardly flattering. Throughout the course of history Asians in film have been portrayed as evil or the "yellow peril" as described by others. 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 portrayed in the film.

In the film Gung Ho filmed in the year 1986, the story is told of the plight of the people working in the region known as the Rust Belt. The group that is the focal point of this story is the relation between Asian men in an American town and the differences they share are played out in this movie. The stereotypes enlisted in this movie are both that of a villainous nature and a comedic relief with some of the characters. Throughout the film it is how the clever, white working class people of this hard working town have to overcome the maniacal working environment these Asian men have. Common stereotypes of the Asian man lay throughout the entire course of the movie, stereotypes that have been portrayed by the film industry of Asian men since its inception.

The main stereotype in this movie is that Asian men only care about their jobs and their careers and little else. That the Asian man will go through great sacrifice to get to the top of the business that they work for. From beginning to end, many white families are portrayed in the movie showing that the American people have family values. Yet absent through the whole course of the picture is any Asian man with his family. This signifies that the Asian group does not have time, nor wants to make time to have a family life because they are trying to succeed in business. The Asian boss in the film wanted the results to his liking and little else, whether time with the family was missed or not. Hardly a glimpse of an Asian woman is seen during the movie while the American, and predominantly, white working community always spends time with the family and it is a valued part of their lives. Any slight mention of the Asian characters family was done in conversation without an on-screen appearance by the wife or children.

Another stereotype depicted in the film was that every Asian character spoke flawed English. Not one single person through the film had a perfect grasp of the English language. This provides the comical relief in the film as any Asian man at any time could pronounce a word wrong or use the wrong word to the bemusement of the film watchers. The broken English that is used by the Asian characters in this film seem to heighten or display the fact that the Asian characters have visible flaws. The Americans never have to display such flaws, in fact the only part of the movie where an American attempts to spoke Japanese it is completely flawless, without hesitation or pause.

A further stereotype that is used in this film is that Asian people make good managers, but are never good leaders. What this tells use is that while a person of Asian descent might know the best possible way to accomplish a goal they will never have the force or strong enough personality to get others to get the goal accomplished. The film has Asian men taking over an American plant and trying to incorporate work ethics that are highly successful over in Japan. Yet the white, working class person refused to adhere to such a strict regime and basically revolts to the ideas. This ultimately leads to the failure and disgrace of the Japanese workers who are unsuccessful in making the plant completely efficient. In the end it takes the will of one of the white workers to bring everyone together and incorporate a meld between the two cultures in order to get the job done and everything to turn out successful. Asian men are depicted as not being strong enough to take control of a situation, where as white American has the ability and will constantly use it to save the day for everyone involved in the situation.

One finally stereotype that the film has is the simple fact that all people of Asian descent have some knowledge of the martial arts. Scenes in which martial arts were used were placed

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