The Karate Kid (1984)

Growing up, I remember watching the movie The Karate Kid, which came out in 1984; even though this movie came out before I was born; I remembered that this movie would always stood out to me as I was growing up. Mr. Miyagi whose real name is Keisuke Miyagi, an Okinawan immigrant, who is a handyman in an apartment complex. Keisuke Miyagi is a Japanese-american actor, who is an immigrant to the United States. He learned karate from his father.

The Karate Kid is an example of implicit yellow face, Mr. Miyagi, plays an Asian American role, with American actors.  The picture I have shown demonstrates martial arts, and Mr. Miyagi is one of the main characters, which is Japanese American; while the other main character is Daniel, who is an American actor. I am able to realize that Mr. Miyagi, was a character of a yellow face in this movie, his ability of performing martial arts, his Japanese background.

While growing up watching television has played a major role in my life,  there is no difference in how much Asian Americans/pacific Islanders are being put into the media. There is very little Asian American actors playing roles in movies, but we do not see much. One example, in 2010 there was a remake of The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan (classmate posted). I never realized how there is a lot of stereotypes going on in the media, now that I am more knowledgeable about Asian American representations.

It seems that Asian American/Pacific Islanders are being stereotyped and represented as the ones playing roles of martial art characters. Every movie or show, it represents them as the ones acting that specific character. In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyago, is giving Daniel lessons on martial arts. As we see, Mr. Miyago is a Japanese character and Daniel is a Caucasian character who wants to learn Karate. It seems to me that this is a form of explicit and Implicit yellow face.In reality we never really see any other Americans performing martial arts in the media.

As we talked about in class on Tuesday with gender, it also plays a factor of martial arts. In The Karate Kid we see that it is being represented by male characters who are doing Karate and not any female characters. We also talked about cultural, which in the Karate Kid it represents cultural by the customs that Asian American?Pacific Islanders do in their life.

As I continue to watch the media now, it seems to me that gender plays a factor in the media of Asian American/Pacific Islander. When there are shows that come on, or movies come out, it seems that we see more male representation than female being represented in Asian American/Pacific Islander throughout the media. In the past four years, there is a show called, Pretty Little Liars, where Shay Mitchell, who is represented as a Filipino descent. Other than that, I have not really seen any form of media that represents female Asian American/Pacific Islander. Even though media has not really changed since I was growing up, but what I have noticed through the media I have seen; there seems to be more male Asian American/Pacific Islander’s actors than female actors.



One thought on “The Karate Kid (1984)

  1. Hi Courtney,

    Good analysis of the Karate Kid and some of the messages portrayed. I haven’t seen the remake, but would also be interested in knowing how that compared. I also appreciate your using more of an intersectional lens in considering images! There was also a Karate Kid 3 that had a female martial arts expert, but I do not think the mentor was a woman. Recently on TV some female AA characters are on Glee, The Mindy Project and Grey’s Anatomy.


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