Asian American representation in the media


Graphic by Samantha Esparza

Gabriela Cruz, A&E Staffer

In the past there has been a severe lack of Asian American representation in media even if there are Asian actors cast in certain movies or TV shows. Oftentimes they are stereotyped and almost never cast as lead characters. Over the past couple of years, diversity in media has definitely increased, however there is still a lack of representation for the Asian American community. When people from this community are portrayed in the media, it is much too common for them to be presented as stereotypes. Time and time again the media portrays Asian men as socially awkward, nerdy and shy which increases stereotypes surrounding them. The way the media portrays them causes them to be viewed as less attractive and not masculine enough, which adds to the negative stereotypes. In addition to this, it is common for Asian women to be painted as meek and submissive, making them seem extremely feminine and hypersexualized. These sorts of stereotypes and tropes in film and media lead to false beliefs and stereotypes about the Asian American community. 

“The lack of Asian representation in American media is detrimental to the Asian community… I believe if Asian people were portrayed better and given more chances in the media then this would help negate some of the stereotypes on us,” said sophomore Chan Park. 

Nowadays the media has a much heavier influence on everyone which affects our day-to-day lives and even our mental health. This is why it is extremely important for Asian Americans to be accurately represented in media and for the media to stop not only stereotyping but also under-representing them in different movies and TV.  Since the media is all around us it has a huge impact on mental health and self-esteem. Even though the amount of Asian American representation in media has certainly increased recently, they are still stereotyped and under-represented in media despite the recent progress made. 

“The media is where many receive their information and news these days. Although biased it does relay information. Growing up there never was an Asian kid and when there was it always had to be with the stereotype of being a nerd or having a bad accent. There was never someone who I could relate to in media and films.  Kids should be able to find themselves represented in the media so they don’t grow up being ashamed of their own culture. There were often subtle racist backings to when an Asian would be on TV,” said senior Nicole Myung. 

In 2016, Asian Americans advocated for more accurate representation on screen. Through things such as social media and different blog posts, they brought to light the acute lack of representation over the years in film and media. Recently, the South Korean film “Parasite” made Oscar history by winning the Best Picture award. It became the first film to win Best Picture that was not in English. The film not only won Best Picture but Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best International Film as well. Unfortunately, after the win there were a lot of racist comments and backlash surrounding the film. Multiple people made comments about how the movie should not have won the award at the Oscars and believed that other films in English were more deserving of the award. Despite all of the unfortunate racist backlash, the win of “Parasite” is a great victory and opens the door to more Asian representation in media. 

In recent years certain movies have had huge successes in the film industry and have shown a much more realistic portrayal of Asian Americans than has been done in the past. At the 2021 Academy Awards, the Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn made history by becoming the first Korean actress to win an Academy Award in an acting category. Youn won the award for Best Supporting Actress from the film “Minari”, which had also been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and more. She has been an actress for a very long time in South Korea and has won many awards for her acting in movies such as “Women of Fire” and “A Good Lawyer’s Wife”, among many others. Even though movies such as these are definitely huge milestones, there are still inaccurate representations of Asian Americans in the media. There is still a long way to go in making sure the community continues to be accurately represented.