Skip to main content

Today, the media is not working in the same way as before; audiences have more power to choose media to be as their consent and favor especially, Asian who want more representation in media throughout the world where we could live equally. We have seen some change of perspective in Hollywood movies over the last few decades, more Asians appear on the screen, more Asians appear on the Oscars and many award events. But sometimes, movie industry also defined as “business”to reach the main target audience, we still see some ideas about nationalism or discrimination in many Hollywodd movies such as, white actors play Asian characters, Asian as an specific roles (minor roles, the one on the scene).

Good media is supposed to be the media that promotes diversity, connects people around the world, teaches culture diversity, perceives new perspectives of life, and breaks down the boundary. However, there is the other side of the coin. We can easily find the bad media all over the social media platform. It can influence people’s perception of certain things, it can implant the idea that is not accurate or distorted, which is caused by the misrepresentation. If the minority, not only an Asian people, are misrepresented in the media, it could affect the audience’s perception about them. Please bear in mind that media is not just a medium for people to communicate, do not underestimate the media power. It can control people’s behavior, and have an effect on people’s lives.

 The world has changed pretty much in the last few decades, as well as the media; Asian representation has developed throughout the time. In the last decade, asian characters are no longer type casted as the tech nerd, sex worker, or that one extra, and that one on the scene. Many Asian actors finally get cast in non-specific roles, Asians too can play the lead (John Cho – Searching), the lover (Lana condor – To all the boy i loved before), and hero (Kelly Marie Tran – Star Wars VIII). 

 Asian stories and voices are finally front and center, more getting credit for their works (Emmy Awards 2017) and smashing box office records along the way. The U.S. industry has tried to recover lost ground in recent years with works like “The Farewell” and “Always Be My Maybe.” It feels like a big change is afoot in a year when the Academy has nominated an Asian American best actor in Steven Yeun for the first time ever and put Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao in the spotlight as the first woman of color ever given a nod for best director. This can be a very great chance to explore Asian history and culture inside those films, as “Columbus (2017)” the directorial debut of celebrated video essayist, Konogada with John Cho stars as the lead character “Jin”, a Korean American who has been living in Seoul as an English-to-Korean translator. His father, a renowned scholar, falls ill and is hospitalized in Columbus, which brings Jin back to America. Columbus is not just one film directed and played by Asians but it Illustrates the push and pull of Asian ideas about family and being duty-bound. Jin doesn’t have a particularly good relationship with his father, but parts of him are battling with the guilt of growing up in a culture that expects you to take care of your family and the fact that he isn’t particularly interested. This probably isn’t a foreign concept to non-Asians, but Columbus really nails how deep that guilt can feel for some Asian Americans.

Asian representation doesn’t just only represent the diversity of nations and cultures but when Asian get more opportunity to cast non-specific roles, that means they would have more opportunity to express the diversity of humans. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as “Appa” on Kim’s Convenience brought the old trope of a traditionally minded Asian patriarch to life while staying away from cliches. From the first scene of the first season, Appa tries to prove his acceptance of LGBTQ customers by making up a “gay discount,” Appa’s humor and choices have defied set expectations of how a Korean immigrant of his generation might act. His grounding presence in the store also sets the stage for an effortlessly multicultural picture of Toronto as customers of all stripes file in.

 “The Half of It” Leah Lewis as Ellie Chu, the well-read and articulate Cyrano of the film, who discovers her attraction to popular girl Aster as she helps bumbling boy Paul try to win her affections through love letters. The film would have been refreshing enough just for featuring a Chinese American lead at the center of an otherwise recognizable coming-of-age drama, but questions of LGBTQ identity, race and religion twist the film into a less conventional mix. Particularly touching is Chu’s relationship with her widowed immigrant father, who watches old black-and-white films at night to learn English, and her unlikely but charming friendship with Paul, which transcends the politics of the town and classroom hallways around them.

 It sounds like the media now, is very accurate and fully represents the minority group in the movie industry but business is still still business, as I mentioned at the beginning. There are still some problems in the media that lack diversity, whether it is representing the minority or majority group of people, and the stereotype issue that occurred in countless forms of media. Now, let’s see some bad representation of the media.

Here is the case from a well-known romantic comedy series on Netflix called “Emily in Paris.” The roughest story in this series is about the life of Emily Cooper, an American girl who is transferred to work in the company branch in Paris. She works on an agency’s marketing team and has issues in terms of love and friendship, as well as a culture that is extremely different from America. It is quite questionable why the series that Netflix claims to be the most popular comedy series of 2020, and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for best comedy, is problematic. There are many people who love this series. However, there are also people who really hate it, especially the Parisians. The hatred of this series is caused by the misrepresentation of French people in the series, which led to the stereotype of them. Moreover, audiences and critics say that it lacks diversity; they believe that this problematic series portrays solely the American perspective toward Parisians, which is not the most accurate representation of them. 

Charles Martin, a French critic who writes for Première, was furious. He stated that “Frankly, watching Emily in Paris, there’s plenty to feel insulted about. When they decided to caricature us, the authors didn’t hold back; no cliche was spared, not even the weakest. ” Let’s see what actually caused him and the audience to be so angry about it. Firstly, since there are a significant number of scenes that take place in the office, it demonstrates that the French have a laid-back working style. In the shows, Emily arrives at work early and learns that none of her coworkers have arrived on time; they arrive several hours later, with her supervisor arriving around 11 a.m. The audience may wonder, “What are the working hours for French?”Others may believe that French workers are chilled and even think that they are lazy. 

On the other hand, the story, which is from the French perspective,said that while there is a significant emphasis on work-life balance in France, and the statutory working week is 35 hours, this does not imply that French people are lazy. To meet a deadline, French individuals work overtime, and some work more than 35 hours per week. Normal office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., with a closing time of 6:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.For me, I agree with this phrase: “In France, people work to live rather than live to work.” I strongly believe that this does not show the laziness of the French, but an effective mindset to promote work-life balance and superb living standards.

Moreover, the show leads the audience to think that French couples allow an affair, which is completely stereotypical. The things we see in the series do not represent the whole of French society. There is a story in this series about the affair,Antoine Lambert, the owner of the perfume firm Maison Lavaux, was one of Emily’s initial clients. Emily fascinates Antoine; however, it’s obvious from the beginning that Emily’s boss, Sylvie, abhor when they’re together. Antoine is a married guy, and Sylvie is his mistress, it turns out. Emily is warned by Julien that the only thing a mistress despises more than a wife is another mistress. Yes, among French couples, there will be people who are absolutely fine if their partner has an affair, and think it is normal. However, you must keep in mind that this acceptance is subjective; it varies from person to person based on their attitude and beliefs, so watching a single series, especially one that lacks diversity, promotes an unrealistic Parisian lifestyle, and is stereotypical, such as “Emily in Paris,” cannot show the audience what the entire French society looks like.

Not only the Parisians who are dissatisfied, but also Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s culture minister, who issued a complaint to Netflix regarding its offensive stereotypical image of a Ukrainian character in its series. He is displeased with the appearance of the character named Petra, who is played by Daria Panchenko, who is frightened of being deported in the program, shoplifts while on a shopping spree with Emily, and has poor fashion sense. “We have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting. Is that how Ukrainians are seen abroad? “, he wrote in his telegram post. Basically, he believes it is insulting, and he worries about how Ukrainians are seen abroad after watching this series, which can create a false belief or discourse about them.

I agree that for Thai audiences, it may be hard to understand all of these dissatisfied audiences. To illustrate, consider watching some specific western media that includes Thainess but only talks about Tom Yam Kung, Muay Thai, and the false belief that Thai people still ride elephants to work.Sometimes, we laugh about it, but if we look deep down, we will know that this is bad media. Do we really want foreigners to have this kind of perspective toward our country? I guess not. We must take this into consideration, try to make some changes, or at least not laugh about it.

It is an indisputable innovation in the media industry with a new idea and creating a new media product that is able to gain attention and money from the audience is what we commonly see nowadays. In fact, it is not enough for the benefit of society. We had better consider how to promote the diversity of media, accurate representation, and most importantly, the quality of media that will be beneficial to the audience. What is the point of creating profit-motivated media that only entertains the audience with stereotypes and inaccurate representations that are meaningless to the audience? When you can go beyond that to be good media with purposeful content that people are willing to pay for, it will be truly beneficial and worth being remembered by the audience.

4 Comments

  • Chomchaba Wattanasin says:

    Great article!! After reading your article, I agree that many media are lacking social responsibility. Sometimes they are eager to sell but they did not think it wise how the media power can affect and influence people’s minds, thus, some turn out to be negatively bad effects on our society such as “Emily in Paris” as you exampled can leads to misperception of Parisian to the world with the portrayal of the stereotyping of them.

  • sirothorn yaneeteeraka says:

    I also agree with you that in some series can lead audiences into misperception and they did not think enough that media has power to affect society.

  • Krittaporn says:

    Great points ! I totally agree with the points that we shouldn’t underestimate media power, over the time we consume media it is unconsciously that we already got media effects at least a perception. It might be great if that media convey a right perception. Unfortunately a lot of them are not, it is great points that many Parisians don’t like the Netflix series ” Emily in Paris”, due to some part of this series illustrates the culture of french through American perspective, so it might not completely true. I think media industry should develop the contents by do research and open mind more.

  • Torfa Ruengarak says:

    I like this article!! In my opinion, in the present day, we can see pretty much Asian actors and actresses on the screen more than in the past as you said in the article that it shows about the diversity of nation and cultures and we can express the diversity of humans. I also agree with you that some people still stereotype Asians that they will be like this or that and make misunderstand about Asians that relay on the movies. Moreover, I also watched “Emily in Paris” , if you watched it, you can see the thought of French people about Americans on the series and French culture a lot on the movie. This is the great example to get to know about the diversity of cultures between French and American.

Leave a Reply