The Asian Representation in Media: After the Ugliness, What’s Next? | Haiyun Lu | 5 Min Read

Jan. 20, 2022

In Charles Yu’s book, Interior Chinatown: A Novel, Yu explores the painful experiences of Asian Americans on screen: often, they are expected to speak with a fake accent and broken English even when English is their mother tongue. Furthermore, the lack of authentic representation presents a distorted image of and a message about Asian Pacific Islanders (API). To be limited to acting in a strictly stereotypical way destroys one’s sense of identity and wholeness. As the main character, Willis Wu, reveals, he often feels confused about who he is since the boundary between his stage life and reality has been blurred. As a reader and a Chinese immigrant, I intimately share his frustration, confusion, pain, shame, resentment, and anger.

Films hold such power and influence over the cultural norms and values that our society constructs. The Geena Davis Institute recently conducted a study on gender in the media. After reviewing the top 10 grossing films each year from 2010 to 2019 and analyzing an additional 124 films that featured API actors in the main title cast from 2017 to 2020, they found that audiences were asked to laugh at almost half of the API actors, even…

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Haiyun Lu

Haiyun Lu, a Chinese language teacher at the University School of Milwaukee (WI), is also a writer, blogger, trainer, curriculum designer, meditator, and Co-Founder at Ignite Chinese.