Archive for December 8, 2010

“Gay or Asian?” spread in Details Magazine

By Rebecca Potts-Dupre

In April of 2004, Details Magazine had an article entitled “Gay or Asian?” This article compared the physical features and dress of an Asian male to gay and Asian stereotypes still prevalent in today’s time. The article caused quite an uproar among the Asian American community and while the magazine claims they meant it as satire, one cannot help but be a little disturbed by the blatant stereotypes and, in many ways, derogatory comments being made about an Asian American male.

Details is a magazine geared towards men’s fashion. The magazine has a broad readership and often covers provocative and risky topics. Unfortunately this article was a part of a series and it was not the first of “Gay or…” articles. They had already produced other articles entitled “Gay or Jesus?” and “Gay or Latino?.”

The Asian American community did not take lightly to what they believed to be a “racist” article. While petitions were being sent around the west coast by the UCLA Asia Institute, protests were being held in front of the building of Details Magazine and even on Harvard campus. In class we have discussed the portrayal of Asian Americans in the media and I remembered seeing this post a while back, so I wanted to take a second look at it through what I have learned from class.

The first thing one notices is the title, “Gay or Asian?” Immediately I felt as though the article had taken an unnecessarily provocative tone to the article. To make such a definite parallel between the gay community and the Asian American community seemed offensive. While I understand the importance of catchy titles and I think this title certainly caught my eye, it is simply too offensive when alongside the rest of the article. The article then proceeds to analyze the fashion and physical features of the Asian American male model they have photographed, using stereotypical commentary centered on the Asian American and gay community. But they did not just use the stereotypes of Asian American men; they also used stereotypes that are specific to Asian culture, food, religion, etc.

While the article itself interested me at the start, when I began to notice the numerous responses to “Gay or Asian” I found a positive thing that came from it. The Asian American community rallied around this issue and was able to create a united front. While the article to me is highly offensive and improper, seeing the activism that came from it was very exciting. Historically the Asian American community has struggled with their identity and to have the opportunity to so forcefully speak out against this gross misrepresentation could have sparked a new wave of interest in how Asian Americans are portrayed in the media, who is deciding on their identity, and made them realize the importance of taking back control of their identity.

December 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm 1 comment

Reflections on the Film Festival

Post by Rebecca Potts-Dupre

I loved working on the Film Festival. Working as a group was a lot easier than I expected. I partnered with Galen and Amy for the final film shown, The People I’ve Slept With. We all worked well together and were very excited about the film. Galen and I worked on our introductions for the film and the director and as a group we worked on questions that would be good to ask during the Q&A session. We met as a group outside of class and also communicated through email. I think as a class we struggled with advertising the film festival. Being spilt up into groups based on a particular film, we often needed to advertise to the same organizations and clubs. I think it would have been better to be split up into groups for two different parts of the planning time. While organizing the film festival and choosing the films to show we could have had groups devoted to the different aspects of planning- location, reception, advertising, etc. Then, as the film festival date came closer we could be split up into groups for each of the individual films.

The programming and organizing was handled pretty easily. A lot of the responsibilities we would have had were taken care of by Professor Ma (contacting the film makers, budget planning, location) and Galen planned the reception. While we did come up with the short clips to use to describe the films, the poster was also taken care of for us (though I loved having the opportunity to select which poster we liked the most). When it came to advertising I think we all could have worked a little harder on getting the word out, but in general I think we all did a fantastic job. I got in contact with my friends at Occidental and UC Riverside to get the word out and posted posters around the dorms and dining halls. I know we also contacted clubs and organizations around campus. Inevitably, one of the problems the Film Festival will always face, no matter what weekend it is planned for, is competition with the other programs and events planned for the same weekend and/or time slot. It was unfortunate we did not know of some of these events in advance, but I am not sure how we would have been able to know in ahead of time.

It was quite interesting to sit through each of the showings and think about how they related to class, challenged theories in class and/or introduced something completely new. I was especially impressed by some of the discussions we had after the showings and at other times was very disappointed by the discussions. I think in general I felt these films confirmed things we had learned in class and/or expanded upon things we learned in class. The film Lt. Watada was a very interesting film to see again and while I think the documentary did not particularly highlight his Asian heritage, it was interesting to take that into account when discussing the film. The People I’ve Slept With was an interesting film to think about in relation to what we had learned in class because I felt Juliet did portray the somewhat stereotypical role of the seductive Asian women, but through a modern, feminist lense. It was not as though she was portraying the “dragon lady,” she was a sexually free young woman that did not follow the submissive female role Asian Americans are often portrayed as, or in the steps of her sister. The discussion we had with the Director, Quentin Lee after the film spoke to this message and I was very interested to hear more from him, as his role as an Asian American filmmaker and on his views on the message the film gives to the audience. Overall, I think the film Festival broadened my views on Asian Americans in the Media and subsequently complicated the topic even more.

December 8, 2010 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment


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