Orientalism, Asian Stereotypes, Asian American Identity
This research paper investigates representations of the Asian diaspora, gender, and sexuality by comparing two films Always Be My Maybe (Khan, 2019) and The Half of It (Wu, 2020), representative of a successful Hollywood trend marked by the 2020 (Parasite, Bong Joon-ho) and 2021 (Minari, Lee Isaac Chung) Oscar wins. The films counter a longstanding history of Orientalist Asian American tropes and stereotypes at a moment when China’s booming economy and domestic markets coincide with more creative directors of Asian origin telling their stories in Hollywood. Through close textual analysis of the two films narratives and comparison of their sequences, I examine how these films construct Asian diasporic identity, gender, and sexuality. The analysis demonstrates how racial identity, never fixed, is constantly in the process of construction shaped by larger social forces that respond to and negotiate dominant ideologies supporting certain stereotypes. In The Half of It race, gender, and sexuality are to a great extent reframed through subtlety and subversive characterization. Always Be My Maybe makes use of Hollywood conventions at least in part to shift the conventional narratives about Asians as it pertains to identity, gender, and sexuality.
Master of Arts
Communication, Media and Film
Major Research Paper