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  • Notice any similarities about

  • these East Asian women on screen?

  • They all have what is referred to as

  • the "Asian hair streak."

  • It's a shortcut used by Hollywood and the comic book world

  • to signal that a character is rebellious or edgy.

  • There are a lot of examples.

  • Back in 2014, the Tumblr blog Writing with Color

  • found 12, and there have been more since.

  • And for the most part, it's just a boring, racist trope.

  • Oh, God.

  • I look so

  • good.

  • The overwhelming amount of Asian girls

  • with purple hair streaks is just like kind of ridiculous.

  • This is Annie Shi.

  • In 2017, she tweeted about the trend

  • and there were thousands of retweets.

  • It's just like a symptom of altogether,

  • the non-diversity of Hollywood and popular media.

  • Representations of Asians in American popular culture

  • are very shallow.

  • And so, if you only have a few Asians ever appearing,

  • then if you have something like streaks,

  • then of course it's going to take on a significance

  • of bad or good.

  • It wouldn't happen with white characters,

  • because there's so many white characters.

  • Kim examined the roles and stereotypes

  • of Asian women in film and TV in a 1988 documentary,

  • and revisited the topic in 2011.

  • Twenty-three years later,

  • she didn't find that much had changed.

  • The same archetypes still exist today.

  • Wow.

  • The most common representations of Asian women

  • were of them as docile, sex objects.

  • Get massage from Chinese girl people?

  • Oh, I got to have that one.

  • Oh, let me get her.

  • Her in the black, her in the pink.

  • Hey, baby.

  • Or as kind of sinister, dragon lady types

  • who would stab you in the back.

  • The Dragon Lady was sometimes sexy too.

  • Or as completely deracinated,

  • or sort of honorary white characters.

  • The deracinated ones that I mentioned are usually

  • helping the white folks, or being a foil

  • to the white folks in the film.

  • They're a sidekick.

  • It's been an issue that's gone through 50 years,

  • and it never really has gotten a whole lot better.

  • Sum is a fantastic cook.

  • And you won't eat better Thai food in Bangkok.

  • More cellophane noodle, Mr. Harvey?

  • Mainly, there were just no central characters.

  • So, how do we solve the problem?

  • It starts by giving Asian Americans control

  • of their own narrative.

  • If you give Asian Americans

  • the ability to do the representation,

  • to write the story, it will come out completely different

  • from the usual stereotypes.

  • There was one person who was the lead,

  • and that was in the silent film era in the early talkies,

  • and that was Anna May Wong.

  • Although she played mostly Dragon Ladies,

  • she was in some B movies that she had a voice

  • in producing.

  • She was a central character.

  • She was not a Dragon Lady.

  • She was not a Madame Butterfly.

  • She was usually like an adventuresome doctor

  • or some businessperson, or something like that.

  • And what we want is just somebody who's a complicated

  • human being, the way we know ourselves to be.

  • We could deal with Dragon Ladies and Madame Butterflies

  • if we had lots of other things there, too.

  • In the 100 top films of 2017,

  • 65 films did not have a single female,

  • Asian speaking character.

  • By comparison, white females were only missing from 7 films.

  • More East Asian women are needed on screen.

  • And there needs to be more diverse characters.

  • They don't need to be over-sexualized.

  • Maybe some of them are coming of age.

  • Maybe some of them are leads.

  • And if they're rebellious, they don't need streaks

  • in their hair.

  • Hey, this really burns.

  • You should rinse.

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Why So Many Asian Characters In Movies Have Dyed Hair

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    Courtney Shih posted on 2020/01/20
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