Saturday, October 19, 2013

Final Project Proposal - Jin S Kim


My semester project will be an attempt to explore myths and stereotypes Asian American and Asian immigrant women in mainstream media today.  The purpose of this project is to analyze the relationships between representation of American Asian women in major film (Hollywood) and its impact of objectification of Asian women on everyday life.

Representation of Asian women in American media is intricate; it includes ethnicity, race, culture and global identity (precisely in Western culture) of Asian American women’s gender and sexuality. Additionally, the alteration of the socio-economic status of Asian women in media has changed its reflection on representation of Asian women. Often, Asian women characters in popular American movies are consistently portrayed negative stereotypes.  I will discuss characters in various films that represent American Asian women with stereotypes.

The essay will seek to interrogate the very meanings and implications of media representation of Asian American women.  I will be presenting a short video clip that includes voice narration and variety of film footages. It will demonstrate the visual and aural evidence, to reinforce my theory and provide substance of my essay.


Asian Americans are a minority group of the American population. Popular media exposure to Asian Americans lacks portraying actuality/reality of Asian Americans. Movies from the early century have been successful in portraying this stereotypical version of the Asian woman. Furthermore, the stereotypical characters in Hollywood/mainstream movie productions are often biased. Many of popular films do not reflect the true individuality of the typical Asian American living in America.

In films, Asian women characterize by weak, passive and often to be sexually and emotionally abused by (white) men. The term ‘China doll’ indicates the Asian woman is supposedly hypersexual, exotic, overly feminine and eager to please. This character appears countless times in popular movies.  The term ‘Dragon lady’ refers to an Asian woman who is regarded as seductive but at the time she is untrustworthy; the female version of the Asian bad guy. She has the power to mesmerize her male rivals, and also has the power to remove them when they are no use to her.

Lucy Liu plays a dragon lady character in movie Charlie's Angels

Asian women in movies often recognized either China doll or dragon lady character: If it's not about her male partner abusing her; it is about her success with seducing the male characters into self-destruction. Therefore, she would either gain sympathy or antipathy from the audience.


Transnationalism and the Asian American Heroine, Edited by Lan Dong. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. 2010.


Asian 'It' Girls Say So Long to the Dragon Lady, Jennifer Tung. The New York Times
May 21, 2000, Sunday.


Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mulvey, Laura. 1975.

Psychotherapy for Asian American Woman Warriors, Jean Lau Chin.

 “Lines of Flight”: Reterritorializing Asian American Film and Media Studies, Kent A. Ono.
American Quarterly, Volume 64, Number 4, December 2012, pp. 885-897 (Article)

Paying Attention: Feminist Film Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Adrienne L. McLean. Cinema Journal 48.4 (2009): 144-151. Project MUSE. Web. 12 Oct. 2013.


Asian and Asian American Women's Media Stereotypes;


  1. As an Asian American, I relate a lot to your post. Asian Americans are portrayed in very derogatory ways in Hollywood. There are extremely few depictions of Asian Americans with complex characters. Sadly, it seems that Asian American actors and actresses are mostly confined to playing such simplistic ethnic caricatures. Perhaps, you can bring more exposure to movies that have portrayed Asian American women well. Such movies should be applauded for deviating from the racist status quo. These movies could stand as examples for others.

  2. I always think about this when I watch a movie with Lucy Lieu, she seems to be the ideal representation of an Asian american woman in our society. One she's absolutely gorgeous, but she also has very american features; her light skin & freckles, the shape of her face, etc. Its strange that we long to see diverse people in film and television, but not too diverse- we still need to have these indicators that she's one of 'us'. Its so strange and messed up haha. Good topic!

  3. I think your topic is really interesting! I think it's also interesting to see what female Asian faces ARE represented in the media. There seems to be a very specific Asian woman that American society wants to see (Lucy Liu and that's it). As an Asian woman, you can only look like Lucy Liu or desperately seek to look like that. Otherwise, you will not find roles as an Asian woman, if at all. There are no Filipinas, Malaysian or Vietnamese (unless they are light enough and their eyes are the right shape), in fact, there are no Asian women at all unless they are light skinned enough, their eyes are "Asian" but just the right size, their hair is straight, their lips are small and they look as close to white as they can. If this weren't the case, why would Julie Chen feel the need to undergo surgery? This view of the ideal Asian woman I very limiting. I think this would be something interesting to address in your project.

    Here are some things I found: