Conclusion

The movements of Asian Americans, Asians, and US popular culture are constant. Asian Americans may seek their opportunity to be recognized and success in their home country while some Asian celebrities succeed their success from Asia to America. Although it is unfortunate to see stereotypes on Asians in Hollywood films, I think, US media industry tries to embrace real aspects of Asians/Asian Americans by inviting them in television shows and show the cultural assimilation occurring in global pop-culture.

This blog enabled me to see broad aspects of relationship between Asians, Asian Americans, and Americans, with emphasis on transnational media patterns.  I believe that it was a good experience for me to create this blog and learn the reality of global entertainment media industry. From the knowledge that I gained from this project, I want to pay more attention to factors such as movement of Asian/Asian Americans, Stereotypes  on Asians in media, and global media trends that affects the pattern of U.S media and Asian American culture.

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Reverse: Native Asians in US medias.

Recently, I began to see some Asian celebrity from Asian countries in US mass media and popular culture.

Lin Yu Chun, a Taiwanese singer, became very popular in Taiwan by singing Whitney Houstons’ “I Will Always Love You” on a Taiwanese reality show Super Star Avenue, a Taiwanese version of American Idol. Although he does not speak English fluently, His singing sounds like native English speakers’ singing, and his voice is unbelievably beautiful and grasped attentions of not only Taiwanese audience but also audience from all over the world. He was invited and performed in several US television shows and have countless fans globally.

His appearance in US media seems very impressive considering the presence of small percentage of Asian American celebrities in US entertainment media. Lin Yu Chan and other native Asian celebrities’ being a part of US pop culture reveals the transnational media trends in both US and Asian countries. Lin Yu Chun’s singing video on Youtube made me think that due to the globalization in present day, the world began to have similar taste of entertainment media, music and other parts of popular culture. A person living in Asia can sing a popular American songs with great sensitivity even though he cannot speak English, and American people love his singing. This suggests that US and Asian popular cultures are quite closely connected. But why and how?

This phenomenon reminded me of a term “cultural assimilation” which was mentioned in Henry Yu’s article, “Ethnicity.” According to Yu, cultural assimilation is “the process by two groups communicated with each other and came to share common experiences, memories, and histories.” (Eng 134 CR p. 8)
The rise of modern communication,media, and transportation technology facilitated and accelerated the process sharing experiences and information between one another. Through internet, we can find news, popular films, and TV shows of India, and by taking an airplane, we can go to Japan to see a concert of a popular Japanese-pop singer. Because of this facilitated process, people from different culture can intermingle more often and eventually can share common experience.

Global media is dominantly influenced by the culture and interest of US. Constant export of US film and media products has created an easy, global access to US pop culture and entertainment media trends and has generated a huge profit. Statistically, US film and music industry created $95.4 billion revenue in 2010 (http://selectusa.commerce.gov/industry-snapshots/creative-media-industry-united-states). (http://www.seawost.com/massmedia.html). To keep up this profit from the around the world, U.S Film industry and television shows would have to consider not only domestically entertaining factors, but also globally entertaining factors. To fulfill this mission, in my opinion, Hollywood has cast some globally recognized Asian celebrities such as Lee Byung Hun in G.I. Joe, Jung Ji Hoon from Ninja Assassin and Speed Racer, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan from Pink Panther 2 and Bride and Prejudice. Many fans of these celebrities around the globe will have more interests toward the films, will think of the films globally trendy, and eventually help in creating revenues throughout the Asian countries. The Asian celebrities, on the other hand, are able to consolidate its position as global stars by appearing in U.S films and TV shows. However, many of their roles are still limited by racial stereotypes in US as I mentioned in my previous blog entry.

One interesting fact I found is that Korean film exports went up 8.4% in 2012, and distribution of Korean films in North America also has gone up.(http://www.screendaily.com/news/asia-pacific/korean-film-exports-up-84-in-2012/5051843.article). One of the main reason for rising of Korean films and dramas, according to Hyun-Key Kim, is that in Korean films, “Asian-ness” is no longer something marginal, but takes center stage and makes the Asian fans feel at home. It is not deniable that Hollywood have shown dyastopia to the Asian people by having them in limited, stereotypical roles such as ninja, martial art master, dragon lady, and some weird villains. Kim also mentions that Korean films, drama, and pop music not only have traditional Asian value but also follow global trends in terms of employing western fashion, performance, usage of English as lyrics in songs. These features will make many Korean and non-Korean audience to enjoy the films, drama, and pop music without much of cultural barrier and exoticism. I believe that these features bring satisfaction to native Asians and also Asian Americans by seeing people who look like them playing the main roles in drama, comedy, and romance movies.

*** I just focused on Korean films and TV shows since I got to find a lot of information about them as I research. I’m pretty sure there are many other Asian countries creating popular, global films and TV shows.

As a conclusion, US and Asian media are constantly affecting each other in order to meet economic goals and audience’s satisfaction. Although there are still some stereotypical issues in Hollywood films, US media industries attempts to satisfy global taste of entertainment by inviting many Asian celebrities. On the other hand, rise of Asian films also bring new satisfaction to native Asian and Asian American people by promoting Asian performers to the main roles and by following the global trends.

Reference:
Hyun-key Kim, Hogarth. “The Korean Wave: An Asian Reaction To Western-Dominated Globalization.” Perspectives On Global Development & Technology 12.1/2 (2013): 135-151.

Factor #2: Asian Americans have better chances of success in their home country.

(Watch 12:09-12:45)

I think this clip from a South Korean drama, the Secret Garden,  can show how Asian society views Asian Americans or Asians who studied abroad in the United States. Kim Sa Rang, the actress who speak with poor English accent and pronunciation, took a role of a confident, wealthy movie producer who supposedly have studied abroad in U.S and earned a degree from a prestigious university. According to her interview in real life, Kim purposefully spoke English poorly in order to emphasize the personality of the character in the play as a fatuous person. (http://www.vop.co.kr/A00000339077.html)

This short clip draws two significant social perspectives on Asian Americans in Asian countries. The first perspective is that Asians who studied abroad or lived in the United States are self-confident. In the clip, although her English skill is not good enough to be boasted, she keeps her confidence while she talk to the stunt academy director. One of the main reasons that keep the her fatuous manner seems as her US education background. This reason can be supported by the second perspective: Asians/Asian Americans with American education are elites and/or successful.

In Linh Dinh’s novel, Love Like Hate, Jaded seems to brag the fact that he came from the United States in Vietnam and deceived people by saying that he run a restaurant although he is a mere manager trainee in McDonald.  There is no way people in Vietnam will find out about Jaded’s true position unless they purposefully stalk him. Since people do not know their past, Asian American to start their new life in a new environment.

Additionally, native Asian people’s fantasies of the United States also help in creating positive image on Asian American. Arjun, an Indian boy, from Hari Kunzru’s novel  daydreams of his life in the US when he was chosen to be a computer engineer in an American company, and in Love Like Hate, Huyen has “wet dreams” of glamour concocted by Hollywood” ( Kunzru 22 & CR 127). These Asian American literature illustrate individual native Asian’s American dream. I believe that literature, many times, portrays a part of culture and norms. The fantasies  by thinking that Asian Americans are more trendy, advanced in education, and liberal.

I also think that native Asian people believe that Asian Americans are financially prosperous. To explain it better, I want to share my experience when I was living in Korea. I was born and raised in Korea until my age of 11. In the elementary school that I attended, I occasionally saw some classmates moving to the US. Many of other students envied them. Although we were young, we could tell that America is some sort of a dream land where only wealthy people or people with work opportunity can go since airline tickets are expensive and living there as foreigners will be quite costly. Therefore, the fact that Asian Americans have lived in the US tended to make native Asian people think they are economically in better standing than they are. This belief also can be a factor that make Asian American more confident in their home country.

 

 

Factor #1 : Asian Americans have limited opportunity for success in the United States.

  

Jaded Nguyen, a Viet Kieu, from Linh Dinh’s novel, Love Like Hate. Jaded is small, poor, unintelligent, and living in one of the dumpiest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.  Straightforwardly, he is a looser in America. However, when he visit Vietnam, he is an elite. Many women look up to him and eager to date him. For Jaded, Vietnam is a place giving him a second opportunity of his life. Unlike in the United States, Jaded is welcomed and admired by others in Vietnam. Jaded’s  situation prominently parallels Asian American celebrities in Asian country.  One of the examples I found is the case of Johnny Tri Nguyen. He was born in Vietnam  and came to US at his age of 8. “He is an Vietnamese action performer and stuntman who has performed stunts in big budget hollywood movies such as X Men 1st Class, Green Goblin, serenity and Spiderman  2.” Regardless of his talents and martial art and experience in Hollywood films, he found “limited opportunity in Hollywood in terms of the roles that are available.”  After years of being an unknown performer to the public, he found movie stardom in Vietnam due to the success of his first starred film, Rebel.

(http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Johnny-Tri-Nguyen-finds-movie-stardom-in-Vietnam-2471796.php)

Both Jaded and  Johnny Tri Nguyen’s situations have two common, underlying factors which driven them to their home country.

1. Asian Americans have limited opportunity for success in the United States.

2. Asian Americans have better chances of success in their home country.

Factor #1 : Asian Americans have limited opportunity for success in the United States.

First, I would like to investigate some relevant factors to Asian Americans’ limited opportunity in United States. The very first important factor is considered as the stereotypes that are framed by US films and media. For example,  Hollywood oversimplifies characteristics of  Asian Americans and attempts to present stereotypical Asian themes and characters of “Yellow Peril,” ” the Dragon Lady,” and frequently, “martial art masters.”  Hollywood’s portrayal of Asian American in this way is not a coincidence but is an outcome of racial discrimination over decades.

The concept of “Yellow Peril” signifies “invasion and infection of [European] civility by an inferior[, or Asian] culture.  and was  originally generated by Genghis Khan, a Mongolian emperor in the past, whom was a significant threat to Europe. What really escalated the significance of this concept in the US is  the Caucasian Americans’ fear from increasing Asian population (mainly Chinese and Japanese) and agricultural success between  about 1900s and 1930s. As Asians competed successfully in the local produce markets and for low-paying jobs with unskilled poor whites, labor unions of White workers were eager to force Asians off the land. For that reason, nativists  set a goal to make the government pass legislation to expell all Asians from the United States and to prevent future immigration from Asia. Along with this historical context, the films in the early 20th century reflected Asian men as ” menacing, predatory, and lusting after White women” (Shah). Asian women are also stereotypically portrayed with the image of “the Dragon Lady,” a nickname of a Chinese Empress Tsu-hsi who “arranged the poisoning, strangling, beheading or forced to suicide of anyone who challenged her rule” (Shah). It is not hard to find many Asian American actresses play roles of characters who are “diabolical, sneaky, and mean, but with the added characteristics of being sexually alluring and sophisticated and determined to seduce and corrupt white men” (Shah).

All these themes relevant to Asian American focus on “otherness” of Asian culture and somewhat negative reactions to Asians. Now a day, severe hostility from the past has been dwindled away within the globalization context, but many forms of stereotypes still remains in the US media and society.

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* This graph shows that there are only 1 percent of Asian American being shown in the US television programs. That is the smallest number compare to all the other ethnic groups.

Reference (of the graph):

Potter, W James. Media Literacy 6th edition. Thousand Oak: Sage, 2013.

Korean American Contestant in a Korean Singing Competition Show

 (watch 2:20-3:30)

I’m a huge fan of a Korean show K-Pop Star, an Korean version of American Idol. Every episode have such intensity when the judges make very critical comments on participants’ singing ability. One day, there was a cute,” Americanized ” looking boy named Mackay Kim, walked to the stage with a guitar and began to sing a song he composed by himself. His voice and guitar playing sounded attractive enough. After his performance, judges began to ask him some questions, of course, in Korean. He had some difficult time to answer them back. He passed the first, second, and third rounds with English songs. For the fourth round, he was teamed up with two other participants and had to sing a Korean song. The show aired a scene showing how much he struggled to read and pronounce Korean correctly.  He is an Korean American, born and raised in San Diego, California. I began to wonder what made him want to try out for an Korean singing audition program rather than ones in US like American Idol? This question eventually motivated to research about some patterns of transnational movements of Asian Americans and possible reasons behind the patterns.