Asians Portrayal In American Films

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Asians portrayal in American films


Films are cultural texts constructed in specific socio-historical contexts. The sociocultural approach embraces the notions that, in cultural representations, racial bodies are organized and constructed within specific power relations. Popular cultural discourses, such as Hollywood films, embody racial power relations (Hamamoto, 2001, pp. 30). A film is a complex system of representation in which the racial hierarchies manifest themselves. Films are essentially the representative of the thoughts of the people residing in the country about others. Because such thoughts (movies) are liked by the viewers that is the reason why these thoughts are visualized.


According to this sociocultural framework, stereotypical Asian representations reflect and reinforce a deep-rooted racism against Asians in the United States that has been constructed and maintained culturally and historically. The argument is supported with the reference of the movie Better Luck Tomorrow in which the Asians were depicted as involved in the murders and crimes in the United States.

Critical scholars assert that racialization in cultural discourse and representation is one of the most effective strategies of the American mainstream to subjugate people of color and to perpetuate racial hegemony and power hierarchies in the United States. As Gardyn and Fetto (2003) has suggested, "the media construct for us a definition of what race is, what meaning the imagery of race carries, and what the 'problem of race' is understood to be" (p.33) by unceasingly drawing the imaginary distinctions and relations between subordination and domination and by normalizing white superiority and nonwhite inferiority. Though not apparent on the surface, the dominant white gaze is always embedded in the western media representation of race. Hall asserts that the western media's representations of race always involve "absent but imperialist white eye," which Hall defines as: The marked position from which all these 'observations' are made and from white, alone, they make sense. This is the history of slavery and conquest, written, seen and photographed by The Winners. They cannot be read and made sense of from any other position. The 'white eye' is always outside the frame but seeing and positioning everything within it (Hamamoto, 2001, pp. 30). Popular culture is an important realm in which the white racist ideology is sustained and reproduced (Omi, 1989, pp. 120). Various forms of popular culture help create and perpetuate the racial divisions and stereotypes by disseminating symbols and images in which racist premises and propositions are inscribed in both explicit and implicit ways.

As it has been portrayed in the movie The Joy Luck Club that what is the perception of Chinese people about their culture and government and how the Chinese women escaped from their societal rules and culture towards the feeling of independence in the society of United States. Such types of depictions create a stereotype reflection in the movie of Hollywood against the Asians.

Omi has argued that race, among many factors, is the most salient dimension that defines and structures nonwhites in the symbolic sphere (Omi, 1989, pp. 120). While maintaining the Orientalist binarism of white superiority and non-white inferiority, ...
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