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.