A couple of days ago in a casual conversation, my friends started talking about The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Most of them complimented the movie while one Taiwanese American said “It was good, but it was so *beeping* racist. He did not go into details as to why he thought it was racist; he just insisted that “it is just another one of those racist Hollywood movies”.
I thought this was very interesting because I knew that the director was Justin Lin, an Asian American director, and he did not make Tokyo Drift a racist film. But when my Taiwanese American friend viewed this movie, not knowing whom the director was, he automatically assumed that the movie was racist.
This also happened to me. One day, I noticed that on the sketches of my Japanese textbook, all the Asian people were drawn with common stereotypes. This made me furious. So I checked the writer and publisher of the textbook. The textbook was made in Japan, written by Japanese people, and published by Japan Times.
The question I want to raise is that does the mass media really portray Asian Americans in a racist, stereotyped way? Or do the preset mind of the viewers stereotype Hollywood.
According to Lippman, when people stereotype, “we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see, we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture.”
In the case of my Taiwanese American Friend, he did not first see then define. He defined Hollywood’s portrayal of Asian Americans as racist and stereotypical long before he watched The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
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