Slaying the Dragon: How Asian Women were Portrayed in Movies ” Slaying the Dragon” by Deborah Gee is a comprehensive look at media stereotypes of Asian and Asian American women since the silent era. From the racist use of white actors to portray Asians in early Hollywood films, through the success of Anna May Wong’s sinister dragon lady, to Suzie Wong and the ’50 s geisha girls, to the Asian-American anchorwoman of today. The movie also shows how stereotypes of exoticism and docility have affected the perception of Asian-American women. In many movies Asian women are sexually stereotyped as “exotic, subservient, compliant, industrious, and eager to please.” If not that, Japanese women are shown to be “inherently scheming, untrustworthy, and back-stabbing.” Whichever representation is used in a movie neither is correct. In contrast, the “Joy Luck Club” presents the lives of four Asian-American women in a fashion that does not promote these stereotypes.
In the movie three Asian-American women tell their story bout their lives in China and American life. Nowhere in the movie are Asian-American women presented as sexually subservient, but it presents realistically the lives of these Asian women. Historically in western drama, Asian women have been portrayed in a highly negative light. The Asian women in films like “Sayonara” and “The San Pebbles” and musicals like “Miss Saigon” are seen as people who are “submissive and silent.” A young American soldier is often involved in these plots, as most of these plots are war dramas. The Asian girl falls in love with the American because she sees him as a “savior” who will take her back home with him so she can fulfill what she thinks is the “American Dream”, meaning that she can go from “rags to riches.” On the contrary, the American falls in love with the Asian girl because he feels preference for submissiveness, which he finds more feminine and attractive.
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As well, the American is embodied with the “Christopher Columbus Syndrome”, and feels that he has to dominate her. This passive eastern femininity in relation to western male dominance is portrayed in these dramas. Because of this portrayal of Asian women, many Asian women feel that they are being approached by men in a bad way. The submissiveness and weakness of these characters have angered many. Western dramas have portrayed Asian women as submissive and passive because their size and upbringing. Also Asian women have that image of being exotic because of many films portraying them as prostitutes.
That image of being sexy and exotic is still being portrayed, for example, import models. The stereotyping in the media can readily be seen in the aforementioned examples. Characterizing an entire set of people with an oversimplified image is the very definition of stereotyping and is what is occurring in much of the entertainment industry today.