Go to contents

Hollywood is riddled with Asian stereotypes

Posted January. 14, 2021 07:41,   

Updated January. 14, 2021 07:41


It is not hard to see black actors and actresses in Hollywood movies any more, but not Asians. If they do make an appearance, their characters are flat or the movies get classified as foreign language movies.

“Minari” directed by Lee Isaac Chung is a good example. It is a semi-autobiographical take on the Korean-American director’s own upbringing. The plot follows a Korean family who moved to the United States in pursuit of the American dream in the 1980s. Even though the movie was produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, it was entered in the Best Foreign Language award category for the Golden Globes according to its policy require contenders in the best drama or comedy/musical categories to feature at least 50 percent English dialogue.

In contrast, “Inglourious Basterds (2009)” directed by Quentin Tarantino was nominated for the Best Motion Picture even though it featured only 30 percent English dialogue, which has attracted criticism that it is racist to apply different rules to movies that were not directed or starred by white people. In 2019, “The Farewell,” which tells a story of a Chinese immigrant family directed by Chinese-American director Lulu Wang, was also put in the Best Foreign Language award category.

Many Asian characters in Hollywood movies often reflect stereotypes of Asians in the Western world. Just like in “A Serious Man (2010),” which features a South Korean student who argues he should not fail the class, many Hollywood movies portray South Korean people as hard-working students. Or they are described as rich people who only care about money like in “Crazy Rich Asians (2018),” which was hugely popular in the West as a story about insanely rich Asian people but failed to attract a huge audience in Asia where it was considered a cliché.

Some argue that the underrepresentation of Asians in Hollywood movies can be addressed when more Asian people participate in the making of Hollywood films just as black and Mexican people have done. “Hollywood is now paying more attention to South Korea thanks to ‘Parasite,’” said movie critic Jeong Ji-uk.“ More South Korean people should be involved in producing films so that there will be more South Korean characters that are more than a stereotype.”