All Asians Look the Same?

When it comes to being Asian, it is a very common thing to hear someone say: “Oh. All Asians look the same!” It’s funny how that is because it seems like it is only said about the Asian race. Why? I have no idea. It seems that our society is too lazy or think that it is useless to recognize the differences between the numerous ethnicities in the Asian race. You don’t hear people saying “all African Americans look the same!” or “all hispanics look the same.” It’s just Asians that look the same apparently.

On April 8th, Angry Asian Man made a blog post about an event that circled around this topic of Asians looking the same. One day in Portland, Oregon, there was a group of cyclist activist trying to promote something. During their ride, Krisapon Chaisawat (who is in fact Asian) decided to join up with the group just to meet some new people because he was new to the town. But instead of what could have been a nice even of meeting new people just turned into an event of accusations. These cyclist were just a little too paranoid and did not know any better. They accused Chaisawat as an undercover cop, that undercover cop being Captain Uehara.

Surprisingly (and I say that sarcastically), the Asian man who had joined in on their group ride was in fact not the same person they thought he was. Angry Asian Man mentions in his blog post that “race was a big factor in this foolishness,” and he is right. Just because someone is Asian, does not mean they look exactly the same as the next Asian person that shows up.

I remember when I was younger when people in my class would mistake me and my friend as sisters. Yes, we were both Filipino, but we looked very much different. The only quality we had in common was black hair. Our facial features, height different, and skin tone were very different, but the kids still kept asking us: “Are you guys sisters??” just because of the fact that we are both Asian. More recently, I even had an acquaintance say to me: “They’re all the same through squinted eyes.” And yes, this particular acquaintance happened to be half-Asian and he was saying this about his own race. Apparently even some Asians think we all look the same.

I guess society is just very narrow minded about the differences between Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Koreans, and so on.

Angry Asian Man’s Blog Post

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Guess Girl Perfume: The Dominant Representation of Women.

Realizing that I had forgotten to do a blog post on the 8th, I looked to the 8asians website for a news story about Asian Americans I could write a blog post about. I found a YouTuber named Douglas Kim who made a parody of “Rockin’ the Suburbs” called “I’m Asian American.” I thought it would be an interesting video to watch regardless if I was going to post about it or not, so I clicked the link to it. Before the video was an advertisement, of course. The advertisement caught my eye and not in a very positive way.

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The ad was for Guess Girl perfume, a new fragrance put out by Guess (which I thought was just a clothing brand, but apparently they make fragrances as well). The main focus of the advertisement was a good looking, blonde, curvy girl and her cleavage. A women’s breast being a focal point in media? No surprise there. Anyways, the commercial starts with a shot of a car rolling up. The second shot is of the woman’s head, but then the third shot was of her spraying spraying perfume on herself (though we all know that third shot was actually a focal point on her breasts). After that, she eventually walks into a hut type bar and everyone stops and looks at her in “aw” of her beauty. She walks up to the counter fanning herself because supposedly it’s a hot day. The guy at the counter (who is also agape by the woman’s presence) realizes this and frantically offers the woman a number of ice cubes. She refuses them away and grabs a couple of them herself, which leads to her rubbing them on her chest in a sexual way.

Most of the time, the representation of women in media is a sexual one. It’s actually quite disappointing that that is the reality. In advertisements to sell certain items like alcohol, clothing, or a perfume, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a women “flaunting what she’s got” in order to appeal to the consumer’s eye. Immediately after I watched the whole advertisement, I went: “That was stuuuuuuuuuuuupid.” Why? Because in an attempt to sell a perfume, Guess focused on a woman’s sexual appearance and then in turn relied on the audience’s desire to sort of be like that woman, therefore wanting to buy the new fragrance.

It disappoints me to know that women are represented in such a disrespectful way in media. Also, the media relies so much on the appearance of women. Instead of relying on such appearances, why not focus on a woman’s success or ability to achieve something? Because of this example put out there, young girls are given a very narrow view of what they can be in life. That alone is very unfortunate.

Click here for the Guess Girl ad.

Omi from Xiaolin Showdown and Russell from Up.

When I was thinking about my earliest memories of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in the media, and I honestly had a hard time remembering any. Most of what I remembered were characters or people who were not American, but were in fact Asian.

Though, a character I remembered from a show I used to watch years ago was Omi, the main character from the cartoon show called, “Xiaolin Showdown.” Omi was not meant to be Asian Americanbut he was definitely meant to be Asian.

Omi

There were other a few stereotypical qualities that Omi possessed that I did not realize until now. One, Omi’s skin color was bright yellow. Also, he had an Asian accent and would often mix up slang phrases (ex. Instead of saying, “Spill your guts,” he would say something like, “Spill your internal organs”). Another quality is his eyes were drawn slightly slanted. And on top of all that, he knew Martial Arts (though the show was Martial Arts based).

It’s funny how back then I was totally unaware to the stereotypes that were out there. As I look back at this character today, now that I am more knowledgable about Asian representations, I am able to realize that Omi was a character of yellow face with his ability of Martial Arts, bright yellow skin, accent, and slanted eyes.

This cartoon show was a Martial Arts based show, so I am not surprised they went with an Asian main character. To be honest, I would have been confused if they didn’t make the main character Asian. Though I think giving the character bright yellow skin and an accent was a bit on the stereotypical side.

Thinking about the representations of Asians/Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders from back then, I don’t think it has changed much now. There are still stereotypical Asian characters in TV and film that I see all the time. Though there is one character that I find to be an exception to this.

In Disney PIXAR’s movie “Up,” one of the main characters is Russell, and Asian American boy scout who accompanies an elderly man’s journey to South America. Russell was simply just an Asian American boy who was a boy scout. He did not contain any stereotypical qualities (besides his slanted eyes) that would single him out as the “Asian kid” from Up. Realistically, PIXAR could have animated Russell to be any ethnicity. I like that PIXAR decided to make an important character in a movie a minority and at the same time not be so stereotypical about it.

up russell

Asians/Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are being stereotyped just as much today as they were back then, but there are still exceptions like Russell from “Up.” Though characters like Omi are always popping up in the media, keeping the stereotypical Asian alive in our society.