One of the (MANY) problems with Asian American media representation is that in the few times we are seen in media, we have these humiliating stereotype roles.
You might be familiar with the Chinese take out delivery boy.
Here are some hallmarks:
- Speaks in broken English. Sometimes with a “generic Asian accent” that has random influences of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean accents.
- May resorts to miming to communicate.
- Often the temporary emotional punching bag of the main character.
- May be the butt of racial jokes.
- Note how this person could be a male teenager, or a an adult male, but they are still referred to as a “Chinese take out delivery boy”.
Stereotypes are humiliating because they dehumanize us and insult us. They take the tremendous complexity and depth within us…and distill it to several punchlines.
Several writers that I look up to like David Mura and Gene Luen Yang have said that as writers, we resist these dehumanizing stereotypes by taking them and making them richer and deeper. We resist by reclaiming and rehumanizing them.
This is more of a personal desire, rather than a tactical desire that furthers social justice, but the stereotype I most want to see rehumanized is the Chinese take out delivery boy / person. Asian male actors frequently talk about how THAT is the role they always end up auditioning for. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a role that rewarded all those years of auditions, all those frustrations, all the humiliations, all the time spent trying to make a bit part come alive?
- I want to know their background.
- Where did they grow up?
- What’s their relationship with their favorite customers?
- Who are their least favorite customers?
- What pisses them off?
- What are their thoughts on their city?
- What do they do to relax?
- What’s going on with their families?
- Can we have an actor with a good Chinese accent? Can my parents tell what region of China he’s from?
- What are they doing in their spare time?
- What do they do during the slow times of the restaurant?
- What are their flaws?
- Have they experienced trauma?
- What is their love life like?
Is anyone working on this? Does this exist already? Let me know here.
I mean that’s pretty much it. Get Steve Carrel to play his character Michael Scott from The Office and give him lines from Trump.
- “You know what uranium is, right? It’s a thing called nuclear weapons and other things like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.” -IFLScience
- From CNN:
“I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it,” Trump said, before telling interviewer Maria Bartiromo he was told the strike was ready to go.
Trump added that he told Xi that the United States had “just fired 59 missiles … heading to Iraq,” incorrectly identifying the country he was striking when relaying the story to Bartiromo.
- In a speech to the Coast Guard
- “Look at the way I have been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse, or more unfairly.”
- “Well, er, it wasn’t, er, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. [In response to the interviewer suggesting that his tweeting that there were tapes was a smart tactic]” -Fox Entertainment
- “We have a very good relationship. People say we have the best relationship of any President-President, because he’s called President also. Now some people might call him the King of China, but he’s called President. ” -Fox Entertainment
- “Our country’s really in bad, big trouble. We have a lot of trouble. A lot of problems. And one of the big problems, I talk about, divisiveness. I think that a lot of people will appreciate … I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it because it’s time to go in a different direction.” -NYT
- (With this quote, you can even imagine continuing in Michael Scott’s voice with something like “I talk about divisiveness, to talk about unity. A lot of people will keep talking about divisiveness and divide. But I’m going to keep talking about divisiveness and unite. You could even call me…the Uniter in Chief.”
- Any Donald Trump “word salad” speech, but instead of a large audience, in a small conference room
No conversation on Trump is complete without mentioning his extreme racism and sexism. Michael Scott, as offensive as he is, does not say things a white supremacist would say. So how would Michael Scott handle being given Trump’s horrifying lines and tweets?
I believe Michael Scott would say to the “documentary team” filming him that he refuses to say these things. I think it would be weirdly powerful to have Michael Scott, a beloved character from a beloved show, reject these hateful lines.
A phrase that I’ve used as a mantra is “step into uncertainty.”
As creatives, as writers, as entrepreneurs, and even as people navigating everyday life, we are constantly navigating uncertainty.
My impression is many people think of creatives and entrepreneurs as people who throw their entire being into the unknown. I feel like we’re seen as throwing ourselves off a cliff as some kind of tribute to the creative and entrepreneurial gods. If we’re deemed “good enough” by these gods, we might be saved.
My reality has been quite different. I describe us as “stepping into uncertainty.” The relationship we have with uncertainty is one of curiosity, exploration, and incremental commitment.
We think and act probably more like a rover sent onto a far away planet or asteroid. We try to safely explore in small steps. We limit risks. We take time to analyze the situation. We take time to experiment (safely). And if the situation seems too dangerous, we turn tail and retreat. Better to wait for a safer day to step into uncertainty than one day of foolish bravado and machismo.