B1 Intermediate US 30 Folder Collection
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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

30 Folder Collection
Courtney Shih published on January 20, 2020
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