How Asian men are portrayed in movies by Asian-American women
Watch enough movies by Asian-American women movie-makers, and it's easy to begin wondering, do our women hate us?
Joy Luck Club, starring Ming-Na, by Amy Tan, 1993.
Double Happiness, starring Sandra Oh, by Mina Shum, 1994. (Canadian film)
Red Doors, starring Jacqueline Kim, by Georgia Lee, 2005.
I'm not a movie aficionado, so the fact I can name as many as three movies by Asian-American women that alarm me as an Asian-American man is a bad sign. To this day, I can't stomach any work by Sandra Oh because of her role in Double Happiness.
As far as movie messages go, feminism that's generally critical of gender relationships is one thing. We're in modern times, and while we may sometimes be uncomfortable with feminism as men, we support our sisters. As well, when confronted with racism in our popular culture, it's a struggle for our people, but we are willing and able to handle those outside of our demographic group who demean us. We understand that carving our niche in American society is a progressive generational struggle.
However, when our sisters, as exemplified by Mses Tan, Shum, and Lee, whom we rely upon as our life partners, emasculate us, and inject their hateful image of Asian men into popular culture, we have no defense for their back-stabbing betrayal. There is nothing we can do about Asian-American women who denigrate us, and worse, idealize non-Asian men as deliberate counterpoints to their caricatured portrayals of Asian men. Because these women are the forefront of Asian-American representatives, they legitimize anti-Asian male stereotypes like no one else can.
I don't understand: why do Asian-American women hurt their brothers like this?
I spotted this revealing tidbit about Red Doors in an interview with movie lead Jacqueline Kim:
APA: Were you surprised by the intense reactions about how there were no Asian guys?* Emphasis mine.
JK: You know it's something we saw that would probably come, but the three guys who were playing the boyfriends are such lovely and varied actors. I think two of them were originally supposed to be Asian American, and we lost them within 24-36 hours of shooting, both for visa issues. But, I personally think -- Georgia's experience was growing up in Connecticut, where I think they were one of three Chinese American families. I grew up in Detroit, where we were one of three Korean American families, so I mean, white boys were just... who you date.
"Visa issues"?! Again: What the Fuck, Sister?! Where did Georgia Lee film this movie - Antarctica? * What, she couldn't find Asian-American male actors - with American citizenship and the other necessary credentials - either as her first choices or emergency fill-ins to play the boyfriends? Kim then immediately contradicts her excuse by saying that "white boys" are the accurate characterization of her and Lee's dating background, meaning that white actors properly represent boyfriends in the Asian-American woman's experience, anyway. She strongly implies that the "visa" explanation is just a tossed-out excuse and white actors were meant to play the boyfriends all along. They don't even care. The lack of regret and easy dismissiveness from our sisters in their choice to represent their brothers negatively in American culture is dismaying.
* Red Doors was filmed in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.