AA Male Portrayal in Romantic Comedies – Katie Eu (4/4)

December 16, 2019 at 8:39 pm 1 comment

This is post 4 of 4 in a series of posts about Asian American male portrayal in popular media, specifically romantic comedies, for my final. 

Asian American male portrayal in popular media has reinforced the idea that they are not as physically attractive as their white counterparts. Because of this, Asian men are less likely to be in romantic relationships as women (or other men) aren’t initially physically attracted to them. This parallels the increase in interracial marriages in the United States, jumping from 3% in 1967 to 17% in 2015. This roughly translates into 11 million people who are intermarried (Livingston). Even though the portrayal of Asian American men in media and the rise in interracial relationships still requires more studies to prove a solid link, there is a connection between these two topics. 

Unfortunately, in media, there is a “colour neutral” standard where the plot ignores race and background history, choosing to celebrate individuals for their identity separate to their race (Washington). This gives off the façade of racial representation in media, but this “colour blindness” is technically no better than zero representation. By ignoring the history of certain characters, media reinforces that we are ‘all equal,’ giving the illusion that our cultural background has no influence on the decisions we make. However, this is false. The “colour neutral” standard could shed light on why there is a lack of Asian American men portrayed as the main interests in romantic comedies, as this signals that regardless of the actor playing the romantic interest, “all races are the same” and you could substitute any race for the main character. However, more research is needed to come to this conclusion. 

Potential exceptions to negative AA male representation in media include the popular Crazy Rich Asians, which portrays Henry Golding as Nick Young as an extremely desirable romantic candidate. Netflix has also created more inclusive romantic comedies such as Always Be My Maybe (2019) and Ali’s Wedding (2017) which changes the narrative from white males to Asian American males. Hopefully the increase in positive Asian male representation in popular media will extend to romantic comedies, specifically portraying interracial relationships where the Asian male is the focus of the film and not an unruly sidekick.  

Image result for asian sidekick

Image result for john cho movie posters

John Cho appearing in popular movie posters #StarringJohnCho

Livingston, Gretchen, and Anna Brown. “Intermarriage in the U.S. 50 Years After Loving v. Virginia.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 8 Sept. 2017, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/05/18/intermarriage-in-the-u-s-50-years-after-loving-v-virginia/. 

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

AA Male Portrayal in Romantic Comedies – Katie Eu (3/4) Social Media Group Film Presentation – Isha Singh

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. asianamericansinmedia  |  December 24, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Your introduction of other romantic comedies, including “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Always Be My Maybe” suggests the potential for more comparative analyses with the two other films you discussed in your previous post. This could balance out the discussion in your final project towards more analyses of specific media examples instead of opinions of a generalized notion of “the media”.

    The scope of your series fits the requirement of the final project for our class. Your choice of topic could be more consistently focused on specific romantic comedies with Asian American representation, perhaps ones from your autobiography? Additionally, Asian American feminism, queer theory, and media studies offer differing views on romance and desire in relationship to media representation that could round out your use of psychology and social cognitive theory here. Your use of the blog serial format and the web-base context worked for this project.

    Prof Ma


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