Ugh — really? Everyone is arguing that there is no Asian men with white women in movies?
To answer a classmates question, “Can anyone think of a film that portrays this? Also do you think the absence of such “non-normative” relationships portrayed in film is detrimental to society?”.
These are the films I can come up with after a quick search that have leading Asian men actors paired with white women. : The Lover (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101316/), Restless (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0183700/), The Replacement Killers (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120008/), The Jungle Book (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110213/), Anna & the King (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0166485/), The King and I (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049408/), and then the Jet Li films — Kiss of the Dragon (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0271027/), The One (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267804/) — or even a film from the early 1900’s “The Cheat (1915)” (http://digital.films.com/play/UWWD6T#).
I don’t think that the films that everyone is arguing against are absent from society at all. I think you’re just not looking out for them. A lot of these are great movies.
In, Cinematic Projections: Marking the Desirous Body, the author states that, “In romantic potential Asian Americans are essentially character eunuchs” (Kang 72). The author obviously does not do research into this topic and just assumes the basis of this theory on what they see as the mainstream box office hits of today, feed for the masses, with no cinematic value more than half of the time. To quote about a film, The Cheat (1915), from the early 1900’s, “Sessue Hayakawa had theaters full of white women coming to see an Asian male overpower them.” (http://digital.films.com/play/UWWD6T#).
The text goes on to talk about Asian woman as subservient and also as prostitutes. I see nothing different about the way Asian women are portrayed and the way any other women is portrayed in most film. The women is usually portrayed as at either ends of the spectrum. The 1950’s housewife or the dirty talking loose women. Though the lines have been blurred a little bit in more current films they are still there. Watch a Bollywood movie, an Arabic movie, a Mandarin movie — women are normally portrayed as weak, even today. This does not have to do with the cultural background or ethnicity of the woman — it has to do with the way WOMEN in general are portrayed, not just Asian women. On television shows and in movies there are also Asian women who show a strong sense of power in both position at the work place and ability. For instance the actress Lucy Liu has shown this power in her character on the television show “Ally McBeal” and in the movie “Charlie’s Angels”. She is a strong Asian woman who is not portrayed as loose or submissive. There are plenty of Asian characters out there in film and television if you open your eyes and see them.
Laura Hyun-yi Kang, “Cinematic Projections: Marking the Desirous Body,” Compositional Subjects: Enfiguring Asian/American Women, Durham: Duke University Press, 2002: 71–113.