Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Asian Dramas



In class, we discuss and watch Asian American media, which portrays Asians in Western settings. Personally though, most of the Asians I have seen in the media are from well, the Asian media. I am referring to music, movies, and dramas from Asia that are appreciated here. This trend is very understandable; after all, the portrayal of Asians in American media is very sparse and often not agreeable for a variety of reasons we've been discussing. Media imported from Asia however, more accurately reflects the values and ideas that Asian Americans are familiar with from their upbringings, which is why imported Asian media is also a part of the Asian American experience. As we consider globalization, imported media is an increasingly popular means of entertainment.

One specific form of imported media from Asia that has grown in popular in the U.S., especially in larger cities with large Asian ethnic centers (or actually anywhere, considering the Internet these days), is Asian drama, from Korea, Taiwan, India, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, etc, etc. The ones that I'm more familiar with are the ones from Taiwan and Korea. I'm sure at least one person reading this post has heard of Meteor Garden, Full House or Coffee Prince (available at easily accessible sites such as http://www.mysoju.com/). Like any type of popular culture, these dramas create stereotypes, images, and standards that consumers will be influenced by, different from the ones created by the portrayals of Asians in the American media, but also relevant in context of Asian American consumerism.

The main characters in these dramas are more than often, good looking actors and actresses, which makes sense in terms of attracting viewers, but these actors and actresses often portray similar roles in many different shows, with often, predictable endings. The rich, handsome, intelligent, and suave man winning over the heart of the incredibly stubborn, cutely clutzy, super energetic girl, or the quiet reserved "traditional" girl after a series of amazingly romantic/unrealistic events is a recurring theme that must leave some sort of impression on viewers, especially Asian American viewers, who, turning to this type of media for a connection to their Asian roots, may get a misleading impression of what they should expect in real life when they meet other Asian Americans, especially in the context of dating. The image of a successful male with money, looks, and intelligence as a suitor in these dramas does not match up with most real Asian American males, much less the stereotypical emasculated Asian male in American media. In the end, I feel that perhaps this results in the further emasculation of Asian males, especially in the eyes of Asian females. The same mismatch in perceptions can also occur the other way as well, from males looking for the type of female like the protagonists in the dramas, but not finding the equivalent in real Asian American females. The crossing of cultures and representations here results in interesting dynamics, because the stereotypes that might be created by the dramas in America may not be created within the original country's audience, since that audience has an entire world around them with which to relatively judge the reality of the program. If the main interaction with Asians in the media were with people like those at the top of this post, how would your subsequent interactions with other Asian Americans be influenced?

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