Research Paper: Yellow Peril in Film and Social Media

Pages: 5 (1450 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Sociology  ·  Buy This Paper

Yellow Peril: Multimedia Portrayals of Asian Stereotypes

Stereotypes dominate most environments in contemporary society and it is difficult for a person to avoid being seen with discriminatory eyes when he or she is a part of a minority. Asian-Americans have been assimilated by the American culture, but they managed to maintain many traditions as a result of focusing on trying to find their cultural identities. The internet and the media in general are places where stereotypes are widely promoted and even though in most occasions individuals supporting such trends are inoffensive, the ideas they put across can seriously harm groups such as the Asian-American community.

Stereotypes have come to be particularly influential, up to the point where even Asian-Americans and Asians come to promote them. While this has limited negative effects on how they perceive themselves, such behavior is likely to influence others to believe that it would be perfectly normal for them to associate a person's particularities with stereotypes regarding the respective particularities (Chihara 2000). Arora, Kamal, and Ahmad (2005) severely criticize Deepa Mehta's film Water, which they claim, "does nothing to challenge this inherent tension in representing and perpetuating notions of victimized Indian women lacking any agency or means of resistance within the context of past and current imperialism." Although the critics deny the power of the author's own perceptions and views of the society she lives in, they do have a point that Asians and Asian-Americans need to take responsibility for the way they perpetuate stereotypes and depict their cultures. Mok (1998) notes, " the media do not often portray the diversity that is inherent within the Asian-American culture and that such a paucity of Asian images may greatly affect perceptions Asian-Americans may hold both of their own racial group and of the larger society.

Individuals like Chihara interpret Asian-related ideas pervading an American society as something different than it actually is. While she considers that it would be perfectly normal for her to relate to her community by using stereotypes, the reality is that this can actually be damaging for the group. It is not necessarily that she harms it directly, as she interprets information resulted from the globalization process as being information that she can use with the purpose of associating a form of humor concerning how the American society should perceive Asian-Americans.

In order to be able to understand why some attitudes are wrong, individuals would first have to learn more about the difference between discrimination and inevitable effects associated with globalization. Discrimination originates in earlier cultural stereotypes about Americans resulted from the Second World War. The Pearl Harbor attacks influenced the majority of Americans to consider that Asians (in general, not just the Japanese) were likely to be devious individuals who would not hesitate to perform terrible crimes when provided with the chance to do so.

In contrast, more contemporary stereotypes promote the belief that Asians are likely to be hard-working students or entrepreneurs. "In each case there is the sense that, whether student, enemy, or immigrant, Asians are so different that they will work to replace American ideals and values with their own -- that they will not become fully American" (Crothers 71). Even when Asian-Americans are depicted in an environment that clearly defines the dominant culture such as the contemporary corporate office place, they are portrayed as being outsiders. For example, in the television series Ally McBeal, Asian-American actor Lucy Liu plays Ling Woo, an Asian-American "dragon lady" caricature (Wong, 2003). Wong (2003) claims that the "dragon lady" characterization is unfair and makes it difficult for Asian-Americans to imagine their realistic roles in the American workplace. If the only role models that Asian-Americans have for fitting in, or being "American," are such stereotypes, then there is little hope that a genuine cross-cultural dialogue will take place. Chihara (2000) points out that there are some ways in which Ling Woo is humanized, but generally her role is that of a sexually alluring but emotionally cold dragon lady. As Chihara (2000) puts it, "Ling Woo is basically a stereotype with enough twists to deflect criticism."

Asian-American discrimination goes back much further than Ally McBeal, in the years following the Civil War. Asians considered that the event and other opportunities provided them with the chance to thrive in the U.S. For many of them this proved to be a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Yellow Peril in Film and Social Media.  (2013, April 22).  Retrieved June 16, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Yellow Peril in Film and Social Media."  22 April 2013.  Web.  16 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Yellow Peril in Film and Social Media."  April 22, 2013.  Accessed June 16, 2019.