The Real Culprit of Derogatory Asian Stereotypes Is the Culturally-Flawed Media

The Real Culprit of Derogatory Asian Stereotypes Is the Culturally-Flawed Media

No, either say "ching chong ding dong" right, or don't say it at all.


Another notification lights up my phone. “Evonne Nicholson sent you a direct message!” I swipe across the screen only to be greeted with the most blood-boiling form of entertainment: a meme of a distorted Asian face with eyes stretched to full capacity, decorated with a the caption, “Waah? No maah rice?!” However, even more enraging was her comment, “Omg! This is so funny!!”

While the media is the greatest source of worldwide connections, it also holds the heart of dark humor. The Asian stereotype in western culture today stems almost entirely from inaccurate portrayal by the media. So common have simple terms, such as “rice” and “math,” been demoted to derogatory comments that the comedic interpretation of Asian culture has become socially acceptable. The constant notion of “soft” racism not only enforces more stereotypes but also presents orientals as a bland and monolithic race.

A clear example of such incidents include the 2016 Oscar’s joke by Chris Rock and the notorious insult by Steve Harvey, all eliciting strong laughs from the audience at the plight of mocking another race. Similarly, the Fox News report by Jesse Waters broadcasted an episode subjecting poor, elderly residents of Chinatown to a series of pointed questions about American politics to which they had little response. Thus, these episodes present a very lacking yet somewhat accurate response of Asian Americans to American humor.

Although the endless stream of jokes invoke widespread fury and hatred within the Asian community, only a few are speaking out against the issue. The lack of confidence and justice reflects the extent of the problem, planted deeply by uncensored media.

SEE ALSO: 5 Truths Behind The Asian Stereotype In America

The main problem with media portrayal is the lack of juxtaposition. Commercials often manipulate actors, such as Ken Jeong, into wearing a ratty outfit with glasses sliding down his face while poking curiously at a McDonald’s Burger. The use of Jackie Chan to represent the “tough” part of Asian culture is simply a facade, undermining its complexity. The portrayal of Lucy Liu as a prostitute and countless other Asian women as nerds and geeks only fuel the disparity between yellows and white.

Only rarely have I seen Asian males portrayed with the same ferocity as white or black actors, such as Hugh Jackman.

Because society only sees what the media exhibits, there is little that can be done to change the already embedded idea of Asian stereotypes, but the influence of the media can be also used to spread the reality of situations. Only through the rise of Asian American voices through the media can powerful experience outweigh the effects of its own cultural flaw. Rather, perhaps the only solution is respect from both sides of the table.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Henry Pham

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Cover Image Credit: Catherine Anne Guarino

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Drag Queen Soju Brings Attention To Ignorance Towards Asians In America

Soju's efforts are particularly significant to Asians in the LGBT+ community, who are not widely represented in American media.


A recent episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race," which is currently in its eleventh season, opened up a conversation about the treatment of Asian Americans in the drag community. During the episode's "reading" challenge, in which contestants jokingly exchange insults, Silky Nutmeg Ganache "read" Vietnamese-American contestant Plastique Tiara by repeatedly shouting what she claimed was the word "hurry" in Japanese. After asking what the word meant, Plastique responded, "I'm not Japanese!" as the other contestants laughed. Fans took to social media to express disappointment in the ignorance of Silky's joke, causing other "Drag Race" contestants to weigh in on the situation.

Soju, a Korean-American drag queen who also competed on season eleven, tweeted, "I'm Korean and plastique is Vietnamese" following the episode. She later added, "This isn't about dragging @GanacheSilky this is about educating. All of us can learn." Soju emphasized that she does not believe Silky is racist, but her read was still racially insensitive.

Soju stated in another series of tweets, "If my friends and sisters don't take my heritage and race seriously, then the problem is on me for letting these 'jokes' go on for too long... I've never had a problem for enjoying and celebrating Asian culture. But statements and jokes to degrade us is just not cool." In response to a reply on her tweet, she also added, "this is and always will be educating society about the reality of how Asians are not being taken seriously in America."

Fans praised Soju for bringing attention to and addressing the issue. Many Asian fans, in particular, were able to share their own experiences in their response to Soju. Jokes like the one made by Silky have always existed in the experience of Asian Americans. While the joke itself may not appear too harmful on the surface, it reflects the general perception of Asians in America. Asians are ignorantly treated as a monolith rather than as a diverse group with diverse backgrounds, and Asian culture is often presented as an amalgamation of cultures (mainly East Asian) as well.

Soju's efforts are particularly significant to Asians in the LGBT+ community, who are not widely represented in American media. Both her and Plastique Tiara's appearance on "RuPaul's Drag Race" have given positive representation to LGBT+ Asian-Americans, and it is especially encouraging to see her using her platform in the community to help educate others.

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