The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Advertisement
Dr. Weston Porter (top left) and researchers from the breast cancer lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Weston Porter)
New A&M research initiative provides cutting-edge cancer treatments
J.M. Wise, News Reporter • April 8, 2024

It has been 20 months since Michelle Pozzi, Ph.D, of Texas A&M’s Biochemistry and Biophysics department was diagnosed with cancer. However,...

Advertisement
Light Middleweight boxers Francis Cristal and Frank Chiu throw crosses during Farmers Fight Night on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, at Reed Arena.
‘One day there’s going to be a ring in the middle of Kyle Field’
Zoe May, Editor in Chief • April 11, 2024

“Throw the 1, follow with the 2!” “Keep your hands up!” “Tie him up!” It was the sixth fight of the night. The crowd was either...

Advertisement
Students, residents commemorates Eid Al-Fitr
Lasan Ukwatta Liyanage, Life & Arts Writer • April 11, 2024

This year's Eid Al-Fitr celebration, hosted by Texas A&M’s Muslim Student Association, or MSA, drew over 1,500 attendees on Wednesday,...

Advertisement
Student housing located right outside off campus boundaries on George Bush Drive. 
Guest Commentary: An open letter to City Hall
Ben Crockett, Guest Contributor • April 11, 2024

City Council, As representatives of the Texas Aggie Classes of 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, we write to you today to urge a reconsideration...

Asians are making their mark on the entertainment industry

The portrayal of Asians in movies is more positive now than it ever has been. Successful movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rush Hour 2, are showcasing Asian celebrities who are gradually becoming equal with their Caucasian counterparts.
With the Asian culture slowly becoming mainstream, this trend no doubt will have a positive effect on the film industry. However, in order to better understand why it is so important that Asians are now portrayed in a positive light, one must understand the history of Asians in the movie industry.
In the past, Caucasian actors played the roles of the “Orientals”, under the reasoning that the viewing public did not want to spend their time watching an Asian on screen. There might be some truth in this, while Caucasians were trying to depict an “Oriental” stereotype, Asians were merely trying to depict another human being.
When Asians were given roles, they were primarily for the purpose of comic relief. One example would be the role of the Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The entire role was belittling and racist, culminated by Audrey Hepburn pacifying Mickey Rooney with, “Don’t be angry, you dear little man… If you promise not to be angry, Imight let you take those pictures we mentioned.”
Asians were lumped together and given one identity; regardless of the race of the person in the script, any person from an Asian country would do, whether they were Korean, Japanese or Chinese. While this held true for many Asians at the time, the problem was that there were few positive portrayals. It is understandable to depict each race as having a variety of occupations, and therefore being reflected in the movies as such, but it is inexcusable to depict an entire race as second-class citizens.
A likely reason for the negative depictions of Asians in the movie industry can be found in the historical interaction of the United States with people from the Asia. In World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War the United States was fighting against people of Asian descent. However, one must remember that the United States also had Asian allies. Until recently, Asian males were given extremely weak roles, shown as economically unstable, uneducated, socially inferior and undesirable. According to 2000 census, the median household income for Asian Americans today is $51,200, almost $10,000 higher than that of European Americans. A fifth of Asian-Pacific men over the age of 25 have advanced degrees, compared to the male national average of 10 percent.
The difference is even more with Asian females. Eleven percent of Asian-Pacific women hold an advanced degree, whereas the national average for women is 7 percent. Yet, once again, Asian women tend to be typecast into roles of obedient wives of Caucasian men. If they are successful by their own merits, they are portrayed as having discarded their Asian heritage and being “Americanized”.
It tends to be especially difficult for an Asian actress to play positive roles, as they are almost always shown dating men who are not Asian. In these settings, they have little contact with other Asians and seem to be disconnected from the Asian community.
Some of the fault may lie within the Asian culture. In addition, there is a lot of mystery about this group, which may have cultivated some of the stereotypes in the movies. But fault can also be found in the educational system. Every child in the United States is taught from an early age that African-Americans were discriminated against and that the American Indians were oppressed. However, seldom is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 mentioned, despite it being the first significant law passed by Congress restricting immigration into the United States.
In 1902, Chinese immigrants were made permanently illegal by the United States, and their citizenship eligibility was not restored until 1943. School children today learn about segregated schools, but usually only in the context of African-Americans. Rarely is the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1906 mentioned, the policy that segregated Asian school children in San Francisco.
Asians were at one point an oppressed group in the United States and still are in some industries, such as the movie industry. Michelle Yeoh was denied the part that was given to Carrie Moss in The Matrix, despite Moss’s lack of experience in martial arts. No wonder Yeoh declined supporting roles in the sequels. Bruce Lee lost the starring role in Kung Fu, the series he helped develop and decided to return to Hong Kong, where he became a major star.
The outlook now is much more positive, with stars such as Zhang Ziyi becoming more and more popular. However, in order to fully appreciate how far the Asian race has come in the movie industry, it is imperative for one to understand their beginnings. Upon understanding the history, these recent successes are all the more encouraging and a good indication that Asians are finally becoming accepted into American culture.
Ruby Lee is a sophomore computer science major.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *