Asian Americans in Films of the 1930s, '40s and '50s

I propose an article examining Hollywood’s depiction of Asian American characters in the early years of American film. Such portrayals have long been a subject of controversy because they have frequently dealt with stereotypes rather than authentic representations of Asian culture.

  • Just watched Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (1932); worth looking into regarding this subject. I never caught anything overtly racist but there are definitely moments that one might consider insensitive today. The culture and "political correctness" of the time period is always something to keep in mind. – dbotros 3 years ago
  • Good topic, but I think there's an important distinction that must be made between "Asian Americans in films" and "representations of Asian Americans in films." The former would ideally refer to the ethnicity and/or cultural heritage of the actors who appear in the films (regardless of what type of character they are portraying), whereas the latter refers to the ways in which characters of that ethnic/cultural background are presented (regardless of the identity of the actor portraying that role). While these often go hand-in-hand, particularly in the former case, it is often the instances in which they do not coincide when controversies are more likely to arise. Surely there's a difference between someone like Anna May Wong needing to conform herself to Americans audiences' preconceived notions and stereotypes about Asian culture in order to ensure steady employment for herself, versus something like Mickey Rooney infamously donning yellowface to play Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Just some food for thought. – ProtoCanon 3 years ago
  • A good idea, begin with Charlie Chan. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago

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