Hollywood Media and the Model Minority Myth: the Representation of Asian American Masculinity and its Effects
Asian Americans are becoming one of the largest growing minority groups in the United States, almost surpassing the Latinx community. Asian Americans, however, are rarely ever represented in Hollywood films and are limited to stereotypical roles. Asian American actors have a difficult time finding roles playing characters that are three-dimensional and complex. While both Asian American men and women face this challenge, it seems that in Hollywood films and television shows, Asian American males are even less represented than females and are typically portrayed as the quiet nerd, sexy doctor, martial arts expert, or the villain. These media stereotypes impact how we view Asian American men, and some buy into these problematic portrayals. Through the use of primary sources, such as films and personal interviews, and analysis of previous academic studies, this project seeks to uncover and dispel myths about Asian American masculinity. This research offers important historical context, explaining how the concept of the Yellow Peril plays a key role in Hollywood’s problematic representations of Asian Americans in film. The paper also dissects the model minority stereotype and shows how the pressure Asian American men face to conform to this stereotype—along with dynamics of white hegemonic masculinity—create negative consequences and psychological effects. Ultimately, my analysis reveals the complex dynamics of Asian American masculinity, uncovers the harm of stereotypes, and hopes to inspire more progressive media portrayals of Asian Americans in the future.