Hollywood's Asians Essay

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Hollywood’s Asians
Asian Americans have been part of America for almost as long as its existence. From the Chinese laborers building the transcontinental railway, inner cities laundry services, to Asian farmers who have helped build the agriculture communities around the country, Asian American have contributed to the industries and economy of America. Despite their loyalty and contributions to this country, Asian Americans have been discriminated and considered as “unassimilable” by many Americans. Racism toward Asian is further extended by Hollywood’s use of “yellow face,” where Caucasian actors applied make up and prosthetics to pose as Asians, stereotypes such “yellow peril” and “orientalism.” (Garcia, 13) From the beginning of motion
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As the popularity of Fu Manchu increased, Hollywood was quick to take advantage and portray this character as a threat to white supremacy.
According to Eugene Franklin Wong’s The Early Years: Asians in the American Films Prior to World War II, Rohmer, the creator of Fu Manchu stated “I MADE MY MANE ON FU MANCHU BECAUSE I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT the Chinese... I know something about Chinatown. But that is a different matter.” (Wong, 57) This presented a problem as the whole perception of Dr. Fu Manchu was based on generalization and ignorance. Unfortunately, ignorance of Asian culture became the root of Asian characters in motion pictures. The ambiguity and general facelessness of Asian characters and communities lead to the creation of a low-budget film called Chan is Missing (1981) by Wayne Wang. As two amateur detective cab drivers search the San Francisco’s Chinatown for the mysterious Chan, but never do find him or even reach any conclusion about why he is missing. (Marchetti, 53)

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On the other hand, Hollywood’s depictions of different ethnic Asian are not always negative or evoke racism. As the news Japan’s military growth and reaches the shores of America, characters such as Fu Manchu and General Yen which portrayed dangerous Chinese warlords disappear from the screen. The Japanese Imperialist troops became the replace for the stereotypical evil Asian characters. (Marchetti, 41) Scene of Japanese troops
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