Saturday, March 1, 2008

Nerd or Martial Artist

Americans tend to label Asian Americans as either nerdy or martial artists. Normally, it is the former, but if an Asian looks semi-athletic or aggressive, people assume it must be because he knows tae kwan do or kung fu. They classify accordingly because these are the two main depictions of Asians the media feeds to the masses. Enter the Dragon marked the first time an American audience had a chance to witness the famous martial artist Bruce Lee. After the debut of this movie, Lee became a pop culture icon and the gold standard for kung fu. This opened up an entire new genre of cinema and led to the production of notable movies like Ong-Bak and The One. When I was watching this movie, I immediately compared it to the movie Mortal Kombat because of how similar the storylines were. Then, I also constantly thought of Mortal Kombat, the video game, because of the dubbed sound every time someone connected with a kick or punch. While I found the shrieking unnecessary like the previous poster, I found this sound to be even more annoying and a primary detractor from the skill of Bruce Lee. The sound effects for the fight scenes makes the movie seem less real and gives the viewer more reason not to take it seriously.

With these types of movies becoming so mainstream, and Asians having become the archetypal representation for these films, America has been provided another short sighted 2D image of the Asian minority group. As we discussed in class, if a person does not grow up in a community with a strong Asian American presence, the media and entertainment industry is treated as an excellent source of information about minority groups. Asian Americans themselves can also feel boxed in by these representations. I think this feeling relates to the story in Screaming Monkeys about the two Filipinos. “I don’t want to be a Filipino because the only Filipino everyone knows is the Filipino that eats dogs or the Filipino that walks around with a broom in his hands” (322). If an Asian American cannot speak their native language or does not passively fit the stereotypes of being smart or a skilled fighter constantly thrown at them by the media, then there can be a tendency to strongly reject their heritage.

1 comment:

Vijou Bryant said...

I really agree that mainstream media exposes people to certain representations that are racialized, gendered, sexualized, etc.
If you see your racial group in the media I think there can be an internalization of these images, that can often have a negative connotation, as in the case of the two Filipinos in Screaming Monkeys