My first impression of “asians” came from the famous Jackie Chan. During my childhood, my brother and I grew up on movies like Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, and the Medallion. The way Jackie Chan composed himself in his movies were my earliest images of “asian” attitude. Every movie he has played on has utilized his ability of the martial arts. Kudos to him, but this did not help my perspective of providing a real view of the asian population. Up to this time, every asian must know the martial arts.Even though he never expanded his roles in movies, he is still one of my favorite actors.
As I grew, the perspective became even more of stereotype. The asians portrayed in child movies and mainstream media such as Hollywood would draw on the model image of an asian. Take for example of the nickelodeon show Hey Arnold, the only two asians portrayed in the show play on engraved stereotypes held in America. The first character was Mr. Hyunh who immigrated to America. His character could only speak broken English. In one of the episodes that showed his apartment, the apartment is what an average non-asian American would expect: very clean. This ties in with the image of a model asian. The second character was a classmate of Arnold. Phoebe was a young asian girl that exemplified what it meant to be “asian”. Phoebe actually demonstrated traits from both stereotypes of female asians: the lotus and the dragon lady. The majority of her character was very fragile and soft spoken which shows her “lotus” side of her personality. The other extreme was demonstrated in a particular episode where Phoebe was put in a place of position: hall monitor. As she grew accustomed to her place, she became power hungry and was everything like a dragon lady minus the sexual tension. An even more interesting facet of the show was Phoebe’s role with her friends. Her main friend in the show, Helga, was dominant in the relationship. Coincidently, Helga was a caucasian girl that dictated how the friendship worked; where they headed; and how they acted. Phoebe’s role in the show was subservient to Helga. It would be unheard of for an asian to be the dominant role in a friendship because it contradicted the model image already set by the creators of Hey Arnold. In the end, the show was done very well.