Saturday, April 29, 2017

Core Post - TV, Ethnicity + Race

One question has been brought up after reading articles about TV, Ethnicity and Race is is the complexity of Asian American portrayal in television programming postracial? The complexity of Asian American portrayals in television programming therefore certainly appears to reflect a continuum of stereotypes and representations that ranges from negative stereotypes to positive representations of Asian Americans as heroic characters. This definitely reflects a postracial construct of the Asian American as presented by Turner and Nilsen, though Esposito would object that any instance of negative Asian American portrayal represents the continuation of white supremacist ideology in television programming. The scholarship on Asian American representations certainly seems to consist almost entirely of negative portrayals while completely neglecting positive portrayals that can be easily discerned by viewing prime-time television on cable or broadcast, where Asian Americans are portrayed positively as heroes even if they are rarely the primary focus of the narrative. For example, In “Matchmakers and Cultural Compatibility: Arranged Marriage, South Asians, and Racial Narratives on American Television,” Shilpa Dave exclusively focuses on those representations of traditional Indian cultural practices to arrive at a conclusion that American television 13 programming constructs an Other of Indians as different from Euro-Americans (Dave). 

However, this analysis fails to identify the numerous physicians, engineers, computer scientists, and other positive portrayals of Indians that are easily observed through a causal purview of American television on prime-time and streaming content. One of the interesting themes that emerges in the literature on Asian American representations in television is that even positive portrayals are demeaned by theorists as model minority or depictions of the Other. Dave conducts this type of approach as she claims that depictions of South Indians as physicians confirms a stereotype of South Indians as affluent and therefore objects of resentment by white middle- and working-class Americans (Dave). This criticism means that only a narrow representation of Asian Americans could satisfy theorists such as Acham, Dave, Esposito, and others. This representation would depict an Asian American of working-class or immigrant status who faces racial oppression from whites. 

Depictions that present working-class or immigrant Asians as overcoming the odds to achieve success would be criticized as the model minority stereotype or favoring the end of affirmative action policies. Depictions of Asian Americans of higher socioeconomic status would face criticism for also promoting the model minority stereotype or presenting them as the Other, objects of resentment by lower class whites. Indeed, the literature shows different conceptualizations of the model minority stereotype. The most common usage of the term conveys the stereotype as negative for one or more reasons. For some scholars, the model minority stereotype is negative because it overlooks problems of Asian Americans related to injustice and inequality as a result of white dominance. For other scholars, the model minority stereotype is negative because it presents Asian 14 Americans as the Other, different from whites even though this difference relates to positive attributes. Lastly, some scholars, such as Megan Reynolds (see discussion below), refer to positive stereotypes that can be defined as the model minority stereotype. There appears to be a lack of clarity in the scholarship about what, exactly, the model minority stereotype is in terms of moral connotations.

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