Growing up in an area that was predominately White, and only being surrounded by five percent Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it was hard to recognize what Asian and Asian American stereotypes actually were. Even though I was young and did not have much exposer to the Asian and Asian American race and culture, I can vividly remember the first time I noticed Asian and Asian American stereotypes being portrayed in the media. The first time was in 2002 when the movie Kung Pow: Enter the Fist came out in theaters.
This movie was about a child named “The Chosen One” who had left abandoned after his parents are killed by an unknown man. “The Chosen One” was born with natural martial arts skills and was sent out by an Evil council to find and kill this unknown killer. “The Chosen One” then consults Master Tang to train him before he goes on to defeat this unknown killer. Master Tang introduced him to two other students Wimp Lo and Ling. Wimp Lo became “The Chosen Ones” rival and “The Chosen One” ultimately falls in love with Ling. “The Chosen One” finally encountered Master Pain, who was the man who killed his parents. Master Pain ultimately ended up beating “The Chosen One” and then changed his name to Betty. After Master Pain beats “The Chosen One”, he went back to train even harder. During his training “The Chosen One” gets knocked up and encounters a women with one breast named Whoa, she told him not to fight Betty, but he finally woke up and seeked out Betty one last time. “The Chosen One” still very unprepared gets beat once again by Betty, he sets out to train again until he was ready. Once he was fully prepared he sets out to find Betty and finds his power has expanded through out the entire city. “The Chosen One” proceeds to fight anyone who was close to Betty, while practicing on wooden figures that are replicas to Betty. “The Chosen One” seeked out Betty one last time and finds out that the Evil council are aliens from France who have been empowering Betty to kill “The Chosen One”. “The Chosen One’s” tounge “Toungey” ended up destroying the aliens and “The Chosen One” by defeating Betty by ripping the pyramids off his chest.
This movie even though meant to be comical has an absurd plot, exemplifies all Asian and Asian American stereotype and was extremely racist in my opinion. One of the first things I noticed in this movie was the use of explicit yellow face. The main character in this movie “The Chosen One” is played by Steve Oedekerk, who was an American actor portraying an Asian character. While he played “The Chosen One” he also did the voice overs for many of the characters in the film, giving them whinny, soft voices clearly mimicked how Asians talk. There was also evidence of Yellow Peril in this film as well. The main enemy Master Pain or Betty was feared by all and takes over the village. This clearly showed the political fear of Chinese portrayed early on in history by Ghangis Khan. The last stereotypes I noticed through out this movie pertained to the Asian females. The two stereotypes of Asian females are the lotus blossom/madame butterfly and the dragon lady. In this film Ling the student who “The Chosen One” falls in love with is the quite female, who offers support to “The Chosen One” that portrayed the lotus blossom and Whoa the women with one breast who “The Chosen One” tongue fights with portrays the hyper sexualized Dragon Lady.
Overall even though comedic, this movie clearly insults the Asian and Asian American culture and race. It puts forth many stereotypes such as all Asians being born with martial arts skills, unable to speak well and the inability to speak well and convey ideas and thoughts.