For this course, you will be required to post on this section blog. Julia, one of the other fabulous GSIs for this course, generated a sample blog post based on an entry from a previous student’s contribution. To get a get a good grade for your blog post, you will need to include the following elements: summary of the show/performance, analysis, youtube links, questions, and relevant reading.
See below for a good sample post.
Unfortunately, the initial introduction of this character is rife with Asian American stereotypes. Littering the walls of Kevin’s room are scholastic awards from elementary school all the way through his high school years. This promotes the “model minority” stereotype of Asian Americans who are positioned as a successful minority in order to put down other minorities such as African Americans.
Another aspect of the “model minority” stereotype is the idea that, as Ono and Pham put it, Asian Americans are “shamefully competitive, [and] desperate to get ahead” alongside a robotic character lacking emotional depth.
Kevin’s computer screen displays this stereotype as it is full of an obsessively detailed scheduled coupled with a timer that controls Kevin’s practicing and studying down to the minute. The lack of emotional depth is portrayed when Kevin expresses a need for a perfect math score and then has no idea what to write for his personal statement
Throughout the early episodes of Kevin’s appearances on Supernatural Kevin’s identity is reduced to an external characteristic; that he’s in “Advanced Placement”. Not only does this singularly define Kevin as an overachieving student, it also indicates the perpetual foreigner stereotype in that Kevin’s English is awkward. Very few, if any, high school students reference Advanced Placement classes as “Advanced Placement”, usually shortening the term to “AP”.
Even Osric Chau admits that this initial portrayal of Kevin is “everything I’ve tried not to be… it’s everything my mom wanted me to be”.
This reduction of character is bemoaned by Ali in his article, “Portrayal of Asian Men in Cinema”, as well as the use of Asian characters as either an emasculated butt-of-the-joke or a martial arts master. Interestingly enough, Osric Chau is actually very proficient and award-winning when it comes to martial arts but Supernatural does not showcase it.
Then comes the later transformation of Kevin Tran, what Osric Chau says is “the character that best represents the [Supernatural] audience and fandom”. Osric claims that Kevin represents the fandom through Kevin’s story: getting thrown into a high-paced, adrenaline-pumping series of events but sticking it out to be better in the end.
Kevin, after surviving multiple attacks and kidnappings, transforms on the show into a gun-toting, magic-using, demon punching man with a hair cut. The stereotypical aspects of Kevin’s character were thrown away, but was his cultural identity also thrown out?
What are ways to positively portray Asian Americans onscreen without reinforcing the model minority stereotype?
How important is the rate of progress? Is there an “enough for now”?
How harmful is “ethnic/yellow yellowface”?
Are comedic roles (such as those played by Ken Jeong) more harm than good?
Relevant Readings: Ono and Pham, “Threatening Model Minorities” and Ali, “Portrayal of Asian Men in Cinema”
Reply below if you have questions about format/ wordpress/ or the blog assignment.