Are Asian Males Straight?

When you see an Asian American guy what do you think of? Perhaps you imagine him with a Fu Manchu mustache. Maybe you think of the straight “A” math genius you remember from high school. Or just maybe you look at their clothes and try to determine their sexual orientation. Well in most cases the representation of Jeff Chang in 21 and Over is the last thing one would expect to see or imagine in the media.

From the first time I saw the trailer, I was interested in the Asian representations in the movie. So although we slightly discussed the film in class, and another blog was written on this film, I wanted to take a different route in analyzing a specific aspect of, what I feel, is resistant representations of the hegemony of Asian males. This is in addition to the often misunderstood character of Jeff Chang (mainly by those who have not seen the), who in fact is actually close to failing out of college and actually has a history attending the school’s mental hospital.

So as a forewarning, I have not yet seen the film myself. I have read several reviews and blogs as well as having watched the trailer and seen various other clips/pictures of scenes in the movie. What caught my attention is the opposition to the dominant image of Asian males being desexualized. Representations similar to those from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or “Two Broke Girls” build the frame that Asian males can’t have any sexual role in mainstream media, especially a miscegenous one with a non-Asian partner. However Jeff Chang is greatly sexualized in his role as the newly turned adult. He is seen as the attraction to an assortment of attractive women of various ethnicities (mainly white). He is seen kissing, and having other involvement with them, and at times he is shown naked (rare for Asian males compared to their female counterpart), even at one point revealing his masculine parts.

Now I realize that the other main roles (white characters) also have dominant sexual involvement through-out the film, but from my observance, I think Jeff Chang is actually more successful at getting the ladies then his white comrades.  The only concern that did come to my mind was if this would be attributed to his lack of conscience control of himself because of the alcohol. Might this suggest that he is more being used by the females while he is vulnerable? While this may be the case, it still supports that Asian males do have a least some worth as romantic/sexual companions, which can lead to future representations without this flaw.

 

21 and Over

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One thought on “Are Asian Males Straight?

  1. I appreciate this alternative reading–you show the ambivalence that mainstream media may have with the Asian American male as a lead character by discussing how he’s often not in control and the troubling questions it raises about how he is used and objectified.

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