Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Asian Americans, stereotype, representation, popular media, identity
Since the arrival of East Asian people to the United States of America in the nineteenth century, their portrayal in the popular media has largely consisted of stereotypes: John Chinaman, Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu, Geisha Girl, etc. To investigate if there are changes in the representation of Asian Americans in the popular media, two types of research methods were utilized: content analysis and surveys. With over 300 surveys distributed electronically on the Union College campus, 56 responses were received. The survey was composed of 30.4% Asian Americans and 69.6% Caucasian Americans. The surveys had some interesting trends, which indicate that the more time an Asian American spends in the United States, the less sensitive he or she is to other Asian Americans in the popular media. Asian Americans were also more likely than Caucasian Americans to assume another Asian American actor was born outside of the United States of America. This trend suggests that Asian Americans imitate the cultural snobbery of their Caucasian American counterparts, revealing more complex issues with their identity. Second, the content analysis was performed on primetime comedy shows (Family Guy, Modern Family, 30 Rock), and remakes of a primetime drama show (Hawaii Five-O), and a martial arts movie (Karate Kid). The rites of reversals observed in the primetime comedy shows and the dramatic changes in the portrayal of Asian American characters in the remakes signify a transformation in the representation of Asian Americans in the popular media. The dramatic decrease in the number of Asian American stereotypes observed in the analyzed media implies shifting racial attitudes in the United States of America.
Huang, Alice C., "Broken English and Fixed Stereotypes: The Portrayal of Asian Americans in the Popular Media" (2011). Honors Theses. 1000.