All posts by jumaalmu

I make dances, write about dances, and dance throughout the night.

SAMPLE BLOG POST for 118AC: Problematic Representations of Asian Americans in Television

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.

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In of season 7, episode 21 CW’s Supernatural the narrative introduced an Asian American character Kevin Tran (played by Osric Chau).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyeBUZyDZuE

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.

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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”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z93IWLK5YVA

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?

Discussion Questions:

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.

Welcome to Juan Manuel’s section!

“Ambiente Familiar” Mitrovica Danza Contemporánea (Mexico City) Dirección: Andrea Chirinos Intérpretes: Lilian Coffen, Luis Díaz, Nadia Lartige, Lilian Muller, Andrea Chirinos

Scholars, hi!

Welcome to the space of the nobodies and the forgotten! I’m Juan Manuel. I will be your GSI for summer 2017. As of three weeks ago, I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in performance studies. My work examines choreography and contemporary dance across the United States-Mexico borders.  My current research project gives specific attention to Mexican contemporary choreographers working in cities such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I just started my field work this year; that is, I am out and about conducting interviews with choreographers, watching performances, listening to debates about performance theory and aesthetics in Mexico City, and watching a lot of dance films/shows in dark spaces with strangers that I will never know. My future project will examine the role of the dance quebradita in non-traditional, migrant receiving cities such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Omaha. Qubradita was a dance genre popular among working-class migrants in the United States and the rural populations in Mexico.

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Promotional image for the Colombian film for Los Nadie (2016).

For this blog, I am choosing the theme “the nobodies.” I decided to take inspiration from the 2016 film Los Nadie (The Nobodies). The film follows a group of punk youth in the barrios of Medellín, Colombia. They use juggling, friendship, and punk music as a way of life. This story charts my personal interest into the spaces and forms of belonging where the nobodies and the forgotten hang out. I grew up undocumented in Utah. As a working-class Mexican existing outside of the legal bounds of political citizenship and at times below the poverty line, my sense of belonging  was informed by being considered the worst threat to the imaginary of “America.” I consumed television, performances, and music that gave me a sense of belonging to the nobodies and anybody’s: the working-class labor force in and outside of Mexico. I watched telenovelas ( Marimar), listened to Mexican rock/punk (Rebel’dand Mexican banda (El Mexicano), and cried repeatedly while watching films such as Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950), West Side Story (1961), and Macario (1960).

Pina Pellicer in a still image from the film Macario (1960).
Pina Pellicer in a still image from the Mexican film Macario (1960).
Anybody's wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
Anybody’s wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra.
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra. The story follows the many nobodies that try to enter the United States from Mexico.

When I am not watching a performance or writing about a choreographer, I spend my time on Netflix watching the London-based show Chewing Gum. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey, a working-class girl who lives in a municipal housing project. I look forward to working with you as we examine television, social media, and performance. We will work together through this labyrinth of nobodies, anybody’s, and the forgotten to understand how power works through the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, faith, and class.

Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum
Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum