The earliest memories I have of Asian Americans in the media were from a cartoon called “Xiaolin Showdown” that aired in 2003. The show was about four young martial artists that trained to battle the forces of evil. They would protect ancient artifacts called Shen Gong Wu from the villains. These ancient artifacts had magical powers that the bad guys would try to obtain in order to take over the world. The names of the four warriors were Omi, Kimiko, Raimundo, and Clay. Omi is an Asian orphan boy (does not specify what country he is from), Kimiko is the daughter of a rich Japanese businessman, Raimundo is a young boy from Brazil, and Clay is a laid-back Texan cowboy. Their trainer and Xiaolin Master was named Master Fung.
The three main Asian characters in this cartoon all had different, but typical, representations.
I always felt like Omi was the quirky, foreign boy who had trouble with the English language. He always took his work very seriously, and he was the most skilled Xiaolin monk of the group. His attempt at English slang was often choppy, and it seemed to be a mimicry of the struggle that some Asians in America have with the English language.
I think this representation has changed a little but not too much in today’s media. Although we see Asian Americans playing more roles in the media today, we still see alot of them that are represented with the Forever Foreigner stereotype.
Kimiko, the daughter of the rich Japanese businessman represented, in my eyes, the Lotus Blossom kind of Asian female. She was usually seen wearing high fashion and different hairstyles from Japan, and she is usually a calm and focused person. Although, she had a short temper.
I think it is hard to determine whether this representation has really changed too much in today’s media because of the two extremes that we often see today when it comes to representing Asian women: the Lotus Blossom and the Dragon Lady. I do not think the Lotus Blossom representation has changed much since ten years ago, but I believe that the Dragon Lady representation has become more prevalent.
Master Fung, master, trainer, and guide of the four warriors, represents the wise, older Asian man who is firm with the young ones. He offers advice with confusing phrases, and he helps the four young martial artists learn things they didn’t even know about themselves.
We often only see this representation of elderly, Asian men in movies about martial arts, so I would say that this has not changed in modern media. Even today, Asian men of older age are often portrayed as a group of wise, calm but strict people.