In Hall’s article “The Whites of Their Eyes” he talks about how African Americans are portrayed stereotypically in the media, and this is no different from the way Asian Americans are portrayed in the media. Asian Americans still do not have very substantial roles in movies and are often portrayed as smart, geeky, comical characters with terrible English accents. The Asians that are chosen for roles also often look stereotypically Asian and are short, petite and have very small eyes when in reality not all Asians embody these traits-not all Asians have small eyes and not all Asians speak bad English, especially assimilated Asians.
This stereotype is prevalent in movies dating back to the 1960s such as in Breakfast at Tiffanys, where Mickey Rooney is cast to play the role of an Asian. He is clearly not Asian but his skin has obviously been painted yellow and in this clip he stumbles about clumsily making silly incoherent noises and talks in terrible, grammatically incorrect English. He says, “You disturb-uh me” instead of “you’re disturbing me”, the “uh” is added after disturb to emphasize his bad accent. The clip of it is here:
Almost fifty years later, this Asian stereotype is still being used in movies such as The Hangover, where the only Asian in this movie is once again short, comical, has small eyes and whose English is quite poor. Here is a promo pic for the movie, and the words “You mess with the wrong guy” already pokes fun at bad Asian accents. His stance, large sunglasses and leather jacket also make him look quite comical.
In this film Ken Jeong plays Mr. Chow (another typical Asian name. Asians in American movies are almost always given the name Wang, Chen, Chan, Lee or Chow)
I remember in class someone asked why minorities would want to play such demeaning roles, such as in the Sky Vodka advertisement where the Asian girl was clearly meant to portray a submissive character; and I wonder the same thing about the Asians who willingly play such demeaning roles in these films. Are they aware of it? Do they just think it's comical or are they that desperate to act in movies that they don't mind poking fun of their own race?
Furthermore, the fact that people have this ideological image of Asians embedded in their minds can be seen during the Beijing olympics when the Spanish basketball team imitated Asians by doing this: