Asian American Culture

Someone from Facebook linked me to this article and asked me if I related to it.

Yeah, growing up, in this culture, in the 80s, many standards of living, and success was measured by what I saw, heard and learned was success.  Most heroes, important people, role-models in the media were “White.”

Luckily for me, my family wasn’t quite as stereo-typically Asian to the extent Yuan Fin, of the article, describes.  Though I was kinda the black sheep of the family, my mother was a performer at heart herself.  Now that she’s retired, she performs in Chinese opera, and in a dance group.  So, the only discouraging I got for wanting to be in the arts was from other family members, which actually did still suck.  I got lectured a lot, and compared to the other kids in my extended family.  Ofcourse, they were just worried for my security,..
“sure, you can do that,.. BUT you must have something else to fall back on first, etc.”  Logical enough, but as I became a Junior in college and still hadn’t decided on a major, the finally let me choose acting as my major, and I had to start over as a Freshman in the acting program at UConn.  Essentially, I went to college for 7 years.

Back to the article, yeah, it seems to be true that the Asian demographic is very much like that of the Caucasian demographic in regards to our shopping patterns, and interests.  Marketers have only to market to Caucasians, and Asians are lumped into that.  Typically, Asians purchasing patterns and politics fall in line with Caucasians.  There’s a reason Asians were considered a model minority, in order to fit in, and not bring any attention to ourselves.

Yuan Fin, from the article is right though, no one really knows who to market to regarding media with Asians.  There isn’t much of a demographic yet, a general cultural sense of Asian American culture.  SO, they tend to “white-wash” a bit, to appeal to Caucasians with limited success.  But that will all change, especially once there are more Asian stories and experiences across mediums.  Not to say there aren’t any today, but more Asian stories and experiences in various media, to the extent, an Asian American culture starts to form.  And I’m not even saying every Asian has to subscribe to anything like that,.. I’m just talking about the idea that there are other commonalities among Asian Americans, other than the usual stereotypes, commonalities that stem from the experiences of Asian Americans.  To have an Asian American demographic that matters in the media, culture, and politics, that demographic must gain and find connections, and similarities in whatever their Asian American experience is.   (sorry to be obvious, I’m free-writing here… ).  Connections, commonalities, in experience, old, new, and ones that have yet to happen, that begin to gel into one identity that many Asian Americans share and relate to, something that can be identified as one, of many, Asian American identities, that stands out as the majority, to be identified as Asian American Culture, without discounting other Asian American experiences (lots of redundancies there, sorry).  An identity that also shares and borrows from Asian cultures, which are then adopted as Asian American, and eventually, into the mainstream American Culture.

And that’s happening in colleges and various communities, and one day, their will be a tipping point.  Maybe it’s an “Asian” film, or something, like what “Boys in the Hood” did for the “Black” demographic/movement. Music, or Asian movie stars, especially a male sex symbol, celebrities, talk show hosts, sitcoms, genre films, recording artists, etc.   It’s all about money.  An audience has to be able to imagine an Asian lead in a film, and one with a non-Asian female lead, who could be a love interest, and that the lead can end up with the girl at the end [unlike in Romeo Must Die and Replacement Killers], that an Asian actor doesn’t always have to play opposite and share a film with another non-Asian actor, if it’s not for example, a genre action film, to sell [I get it,. the other actor is proven $$], they have to believe that an Asian American can be President, etc.   The more Asian stories and experiences are out there for the masses, the more likely others and Asians themselves, will begin to also see an Asian American culture, their experiences that many Asian Americans share, and a demographic.  Media, is already better than it was 10 years ago, regarding representations of Asians in media, and telling stories, but that being said, ofcourse even Asians in the industry have “white-washed” their stories in fear of loosing support on projects, when it’s a realistic fear.  Authentic Asian stories, experiences and representations have to be able to make money.  And so far, there isn’t a lot of proof that they do yet.  There will have to be some risks taken, and people who really believe in whatever it is.  There have been successes along the way and like I said, there are Asian Americans who already experience a shared cultural experience, in communities and colleges, it’s still growing and developing, and one day, there’ll be a tipping point and become mainstream.

Sorry for the unpolished nature of my blog post,… think of it as a free-write journal entry

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