When I was about five years old, I came home from school one day and proudly announced that I no longer wanted to speak Tagalog, one of my native languages. I had learned English and Tagalog, one of the main dialects of the Philippines, at the same time; they were both my first language. My reasoning for wanting to stop speaking in Tagalog was because the language was “ugly.”
Painting by Marissa Trierweiler '11
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Film, television, print, and music; media is all around us. It is easy to disregard how prevalent media and popular culture are in daily life, and often, consumers are unaware of the influence that media has on them, from the minuscule to the most noteworthy. By acting as a powerful apparatus, media helps to establish, perpetuate, and reinforce beliefs and stereotypes about racial-ethnic, social, and cultural groups in order to further subjugate them, unintentionally or otherwise. While those who produce media, particularly those involved in television and film, have become more and more aware of issues of representation that stand both in front of and behind the camera, we still see new films and television shows produced that propagate the dominant ideas of the hegemony under which a culture operates. Over the past several years, we have seen a rise in films that attempt to approach racial-ethnic stereotypes with a critical lens, some successful, and others not. I have chosen here to focus on Asians and Asian Americans in film. In recent years, several significant projects have discussed Asian and Asian American stereotypes in such a successful way that they have taken to the mainstream. Because media in general interacts with its audience, it is safe to say that what we see on screen is often a reflection of how we as a whole think and approach any given issue. Do the Right Thing (1989), Better Luck Tomorrow (2003), and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) are all examples of films that portray and question stereotypes and prejudices about the Asian diaspora.
The flickering of CNN on an empty chair