Category Archives: Featured

BLOG POST (Module 6): SAHIBA GURAYA, House M. D.’s Token Minority A Stereotypical Representation

In season 8, episode 2 of House M. D., a new character, Dr. Chi Park (played by Charlyne Yi) was introduced and the only recurring Asian American character, along with Kal Penn in the entire 8 seasons.  

https://youtu.be/0sUCWGRjJcc?t=44s

You can start watching from 0:44 to 1:00, since it is in an interview and has a short clip from the show. Chi Park is not a very popular character, so much couldn’t be found on her, which indicates that Asian American characters quiet often play the supporting roles and are usually irrelevant.

chiiiiii mad

Dr. Chi Park is the newest addition to Dr. House’s team. Throughout the season, she is shown having anger issues, no social skills, and afraid of disgracing her parents. In an episode, it was implied that she lost her temper and punched her former boss for groping her. With her poor lack of social skills in explaining the event at her hearing with the board, she ended up getting fired from the neurology residence program and wound up working for House after he got out of prison.

House M. D. constructs Dr. Chi Park in a stereotypical sense as the Asian American “model minority” who was the top 2% in her class in medical school and works in an esteemed hospital with a well known doctor. As Ono and Pham would put it, she is also shown as “robotic,” obeying everything House says while the other doctors disagree with him and don’t follow House’s irrational decisions. This shows how the “robotic” “model minority” always repeats and obeys the authority, even if disagreeing with them.

As Ono and Pham discuss in their paper regarding Horatio Alger’s story, the show also presents Dr. Chi Park in a similar light. Dr. Chi Park’s parent arrived from Korea and Philippines, working their best to send their daughter to the best schools making sure she got the proper education. This shows how the “model minority” discourse of Horatio Alger myth is applied to this character. She is shown as a first generation Asian American who worked hard to get to where she is, who went from rags to riches, and now has a reputable occupation.

Additionally, Park is also considered to be a part of the “model minority variant,” as “yellow peril.” She is a successful doctor, working under the best diagnostician in the country. Her being successful in the medical profession, reinforces the idea that Asian Americans ultimately pose a threat to the U.S. taking the jobs of other Americans who could’ve had the potential to succeed in medicine; if not for the mass amount of Asians/Asian Americans taking all the notable jobs.

chi kissing chase.gif

Another stereotype the show tackles, is how Dr. Chi Park’s romantic interests are not in other Asian Americans. She falls for Dr. Chase and Dr. House, who are both white, reinforcing the stereotype that “Asian and Asian American women as romantic objects for white men.”

tumblr chi park

Dr. Park’s anger issues, which is always highlighted throughout the show, implies that she can’t be the rational and calm doctor like the others. Again, as Ono and Pham discuss, this shows how Asian Americans are “incapable of being the kind of doctor who cares about patients,” caring more about their selves and their problems. In turn, Park’s anger issues allows the other white doctors to become the “ideal doctor.”

With these stereotypes highlighted in the show, they reflect the codes and conventions  discussed in Ono and Pham’s reading. Not only are these stereotypes magnified in this show, but in other popular shows as well, like Vince Masuka in Dexter and Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy Project. With continuously allowing Asian and Asian American characters to play stereotypical roles, there will be less diversity of roles they can play in the television. This will not only reinforce the never-ending cycle of stereotypical-ness among Asian and Asian American roles, but restrict actors from being able to branch out from being a doctor and they will continue to be typecast.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. With more frequent Asian/Asian American actors in television such as Priyanka Chopra in Quantico, Ken Jeong in Dr. Ken, and Aziz Ansari in Master of None, do you think there should be a continuous proper representation of the Asian minority or now there is too much? Do you think these actors are breaking stereotypes and allowing more Asian/Asian Americans to branch out or work still needs to be done?
  2. Do you still see these stereotypical roles still present in television today? If so, which shows and how?
  3. Is the “model minority,” a term coined in the 1960s, still a threat to the U.S. workforce today?

Thank you so much for reading!! Any thoughts and comments are welcome 🙂

Related Readings: 

Kent A. Ono and Vincent Pham, Asian Americans and the Media: Chapter 5, “Threatening Model Minorities: The Asian American Horatio Alger Story”

 

BLOG POST (Module 2): JACQUELINE COMITER, A Show That Romanticizes Death Achieves Water-cooler Status

Trigger warning: suicide

In Season 1, Episode 11 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Hannah’s guilt-ridden crush, Clay Jensen, finally listens to his tape, and the show perpetuates its dangerous messages that suicide is an effective revenge tactic and that a series of events—rather than mental illness—leads to suicide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkKAFAqZDH4

In Chapter 1, “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era,” of Amanda D. Lotz’ The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Lotz writes, “Programs that achieve “water-cooler status” earn a certain degree of importance due to their ability to break through the cluttered media space, but this alone does not indicate phenomenal television.” 13 Reasons Why is, without question, a water cooler show, but it is far from phenomenal.

To be sure, 13 Reasons Why deals with what Lotz calls “a struggle percolating below the surface of mainstream discourse,” which is often how these shows attract crowds. The series, after all, recounts thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker, a fictional high school student, chooses to kill herself. Hannah leaves behind audiocassettes for the individuals who she claims are the reasons why she took her own life. The creators of 13 Reasons Why should be lauded for their attempt to examine an important topic and defy boundaries, but their execution missed the mark. It is critical that we talk about suicide, but we need to do it correctly.

My hometown is well known for its spate of teen suicides. During my senior year of high school, my campus community lost four male teenagers to suicide, one of whom was my childhood neighbor. After thinking back to the days before the epidemic, I realized that suicide used to be taboo even in my progressive, California hometown. It took a string of tragic events to transform what was hardly ever discussed into dinner party conservation. I am no stranger to suicide and the gaping hole it leaves in a community. At the same time, I am not a mental health expert; I’m just a junior in college writing a blog post for her Arts and Literature breadth requirement. I do, however, remember the toxic thoughts that consumed me in the months following my neighbor’s death. Just as Clay does in the clip above, I wondered if the deceased’s life would have turned out differently had we remained close. And while I applaud the series’ emphasis on empathy and random acts of kindness (or cruelty), its refusal to frame suicide as a consequence of poor mental health places the burden of responsibility on classmates.

In a later episode, Clay even goes on to say, “I cost a girl her life because I was afraid to love her.” I was appalled to find that the show ignored suicide’s root cause: mental illness.

The season finale also graphically depicts the act of suicide (although I find this clip the most significant, I did not find it appropriate to include it in my blog post). According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.” Harold Kolpewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute explains, “This program is coming into living rooms with attractive kids, who seem cool and with it, and are very witty, and they are giving the message of ‘once you are dead, you can get revenge on the people who were mean to you.’ ” It is not surprising that a 23-year-old man in Peru recently took his own life and left behind audio recordings, that according to the Boston Herald, are eerily reminiscent of those in 13 Reasons Why. Worst of all, the show depicts a romanticized version of suicide in which Hannah’s pain is transient and there is an aura of relaxation, as Hannah peacefully falls asleep in a warm bath. Suicide should not be glorified or fictionalized because it is neither. Those in search of phenomenal television should look elsewhere.

Discussion Questions:

Do you agree with the show’s depiction of suicide?

Should shows that have the potential to adversely influence youth be banned?

Are there lessons to be learned even when a show misses the mark?

Will a show centered on “a struggle percolating below the surface of mainstream discourse” always incite a negative response? Can you think of any examples of these sorts of water cooler shows that were well received by the majority of viewers?

Relevant Readings: Amanda D. Lotz, The Television Will Be Revolutionized: Chapter 1, “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era,” USA Today, “Psychologists Warn ‘13 Reasons Why’ Could Inspire Copycat Suicides,” Boston Herald, “23-year-old Imitates ‘13 Reasons Why’ and Commits Suicide,” and http://afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/recommendations.pdf

I welcome your thoughts, comments, and critiques below. Thanks for reading!

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.

tumblr_inline_musmyik7ms1qgp297

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.

Nadie-Juan-Sebastian-Mesa-Medellin_LNCIMA20160909_0069_1
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