Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Melinda Goldner




ethnic minorities, race, stereotypes, film, media, portrayal


Ever since the arrival of the first Chinese immigrants to the United States, Asian men have been portrayed as outsiders to American society. Similar to other ethnic minorities, Asian and Asian American men have been stereotyped as the dangerous and woman-stealing “Yellow Peril” and the asexual, effeminate, and undesirable nerd. These stereotypes reflect the relevant historical events of the time, including the massive migration of Asian men to the United States in the mid-1800s, the retreat of Asian men to traditionally female-dominated occupations like cooking and laundering, and finally the rise of Asian Americans in fields such as education, science, and medicine. Despite attaining full citizenship in the middle of the 20th century and becoming the “Model Minority”, Asian American men are still virtually absent in many aspects of American life, including film. The few images depicted rely on classic stereotypes, such as in gay pornography, where Asian American men are relegated to subordinate, inconsequential, and powerless roles. Contemporary portrayals of Asian and Asian American male actors in mainstream, independent, and erotic cinema are the main focus of this study. Notions of power are discussed in the context of race relations, sexuality, and film. Even though some films have begun to challenge existing archetypes, the majority still portray this demographic as one-dimensional and stereotypical characters. Only with time and the increased involvement of Asian and Asian Americans in film direction, production, acting, marketing, and other areas will these stereotypes change more substantially.