Do you know who Vincent chin? No, is the most common answer to this question shown in a video to spark Asian American activism. Vincent Chin was murdered at the age of 27 in 1982, beaten to death by two men with a baseball bat at a Detroit bar. The two men apparently blamed him for being out of work because the success of the Japanese auto industry. The two men even pleaded guilty and did not deny they did it and argued that it was just a simple bar fight with a bad ending and that it was not a racist act. The two men were given three years probation and a fine of $3,000. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Three years in probation… These men should be behind bars for life for a hate crime murder. This incident caused Asian Americans around the country to protest this decision with heavy emphasis on their civil rights. This was said to be one of the first forms of civil rights movements for Asian Americans. This led federal prosecutors to try the two men who murdered him for violation of Chin’s civil rights. The main perpetrator was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the violation. Finally a little justice right, but no the appeal process overturned the ruling. Downright absurd I say.
Activists are using his story to fuel young Asian Americans to seek justice and unite as a whole community to make change in America. The trailer made for the film attributes the lack of power positions held by Asians ultimately affected the outcome of this brutal crime. They promote the community to stand together and make a difference to bring change the way Asian Americans are represented in America. They want Asian’s to stop just wanting to “fit” in, go out and prove their thoughts, words, and actions count just as much as anyone else’s.
The video wants people to strive to break the glass ceiling and never stop going up. It also promotes individuals to not just conform to the marginalized role our society has labeled Asian Americans with. They need people to challenge this dominant ideologies created by media representations that influence these stereotypes. It is a fact that the hierarchical power structures of America must be changed for the greater good of our country as a whole but I believe another aspect to be attributed is civil injustices served by our country 30 years ago. This video trailer really touches the heart of people and I believe it can create great influential power within the Asian American community.
“Showgirls” is a movie that was produced in 1995 and contains many female representations based on a males’ frame. The movie is about a woman who moves to Las Vegas to start a new life, while she does not have any money to support herself she resorts to strip dancing as her income. She then moves up to a showgirl as a dancer at a hotel and competes against another female to be the star dancer. While she works at the strip club you start to see how men really treat or how they perceive women as, which is a “piece of meat.” Throughout the whole film it seems almost every guy is just interested in a woman’s beauty and what her body has to offer. It is pure sexual innuendo.
The women in the film represent a man’s framework of what they call female entertainment and how they wish to see it. Girl’s with little to no clothing on is an apparent part of any female entertainment for men. Majority of this movie is seeing scenes of girls dancing topless for entertainment purposes. The men with power in this movie are even seen abusing and or using women for their own personal gain. A wealthy man using his status as a lure for women and even a struggling artist saying he’ll let them be in his show are perfect examples of how a man will do what it takes to get his prize.
While many men frames are shown the female lead does show development through the stages of representation. At first when she is a strip dancer she is between non-recognition and ridicule. She is not recognized as a female rather an instrument for the idea of a sexual fantasy or being ridiculed by men demeaning her by treating her as a sex toy. Later in the movie she becomes a “Showgirl” for a famous hotel that performs a topless show for huge audiences. She then moves to regulation phase where people now do not ridicule her for being a topless dancer because the show is regarded as a classy performance that is considered art. And finally she gains respect from people when she becomes the star dancer of the show and is now in a spotlight of stardom.
Overall the stereotype of women being used as a sexual idea to influence viewers who are mostly men is reinforced by this movie. Men are seen as the ones with power at each different place of entertainment. The women are more than less being used as tools to achieve a man’s goals in every aspect of this movie and correlates to the framing of how the media and entertainment business is representing women in an extreme fashion.
One of my earliest recollections of a piece of material that contained Asian or Asian-American representations was the movie and video game “Mortal Kombat”. The movie was created after the games were a success and released on August 18, 1995. I was only five years old at the time of release but I was addicted to the video game before I watched the film about it. I do not think my parents knew how gory the video game actually was. The video game was based on Asian martial arts although it did have some Caucasian characters in it. The main character was named Liu Kang who was played by Robin Shou. Shou was born in Shang Hai and later moved to what is now considered modern day “Koreatown” in Los Angeles.
Liu Kang and other fighters must enter a martial arts tournament to save the world from Shang Tsung’s destruction that is played by Tokyo born Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Shou and Tagawa are the films main characters and both speak in a somewhat broken English. Shou plays a warrior who is full of heart and aspiration while Tagawa plays an evil sorcerer. When I was younger I never realized the effects of yellow peril apparent in this movie. Maybe that’s because I was very young and just loved the amount of action fights in the movie. The evil sorcerer who wields power of destruction to bring down man kind may be seen as a very critical yellow peril topic. Although the film does balance it out by having another Asian character that is nothing but good take him down. I never noticed how the broken English may have been leading to stereotypes for the American people. I was never one to criticize ones’ accent based on their heritage so it never crossed my mind growing up. I loved watching martial arts movies and playing video games that were influenced by Asian cultures of martial arts.
The video game itself contained many cultural icons that may be considered yellow peril as well. Most characters were Asian and the sound effects of the game would be considered that as well. It contained high pitch screams or grunts that people from America would consider an Asian voice even though all cultures have men with low to high pitch voices. The music was a fast upbeat fighting music but had Asian backgrounds in it as well with bells or chimes associated with their culture. The violence in the game was absolutely ridiculous and many controversies started from it. Video game companies had to put an age rating and warning on the label it was so bad. People may have begun to think that Martial arts from the Asian culture would just spread violence rather than how it is a harmonizing practice in the Eastern world.