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Analysis Essay


Overall excellent work! There are no grammatical and/or sentence structure issues that I identified. You present two modern-day cases that exemplify commonplace discrimination experienced by East-Asians at large.

The first is the blanket racism of the advertisement discussed, which itself is so stereotypically racist.

The second is more insidious and thus more difficult to combat. The wholesale, ongoing, and broadly accepted discrimination that Asian students face as they apply to university.

Finally, you are able to weave these points together with the historical context of racism against minority populations as seen through the lends of western media. Well done!
Three ads for a restaurant called China Times target Chinese people by using yellowface. They each contain a man of neither East Asian nor Chinese descent whose eyes have been photoshopped to look exaggeratedly small and slanted, with the tagline “Brings Out the Chinese in Anyone” to promote the idea that anyone who eats there will become and therefore look ‘Chinese.’

The ads try to give off an air of diversity by using men of different races (specifically South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern) but they lose their credibility by being lazily and superficially stereotypical. They focus on alienating and poking fun at the altered sizes of what the creators think every Chinese person’s eyes should look like, rather than the restaurant’s food or various other elements of Chinese culture to represent Chinese people.

Although it is true that smaller sized eyes due to thicker eyelid folds, are more commonly found in people of East Asian descent, however, it would be inaccurate to associate that specific physical trait with all of them, since a diverse range of eye sizes exists too. In conjunction with the tagline, the ad unnecessarily dramatizes the size of the mens’ eyes. Stating that anyone can become Chinese just by emulating the look of very small eyes heavily suggests yellowface, Orientalism, and mockery towards the Chinese. Because it is obviously untrue that anyone can become another race just by imitating said race’s perceived facial characteristics, the tagline is meant to be taken in a sarcastic and humorous tone, furthering the idea that Chinese people are to be othered and laughed at for this racist stereotype. It would almost be the real life equivalent of someone pulling their hands up to their eyelids to slant them and say that they look Chinese.

The ads are considered to stereotype instead of type because they try to limit other people’s perceptions of what Chinese people are beyond their assumed ethnic features. They fix on the idea that extremely slanted eyes are the sole defining physical trait they have, while attempting to incorporate that idea in their entire ethnic and cultural identity. It is very evident that the creators did not do thorough research or consult actual Chinese people before releasing the ads to the public.

The problem with using stereotypes to dehumanize Chinese people and East Asians is that it works to the advantage of the dominant ethnicity and ruling group in Western society. By allowing the dehumanization of Chinese people, the ruling group takes away their social and political power, furthering the inequality and justification for acts of discrimination against them. Some extreme examples of acts of discrimination are the past anti-Chinese immigration laws in the United States and Canada, and recently, Harvard, an Ivy league university, demonstrating bias against Asian Americans in their admissions process. These occurred due to biased scapegoating, and the perpetuation of the “Yellow Peril” and model minority stereotypes, just to mention a few. These acts were all enforced and allowed by people in great power, like the government, and people with a vast amount of wealth and resources.

In spite of the face that the ads are not inherently evil, they also reference resemblances to past incidents of yellowface, which should be enough to raise many viewers’ eyebrows. The most noteworthy presence of yellowface, off-color casting, lack of proper representation, and white hegemony occurred in Hollywood movies.

Yellowface is racist and stereotypical, as it plays into years of unequal power dynamics in the film industry and Western society. Whites, the dominant ruling group, have enforced rules over many years to keep minority ethnicities, such as East Asians, excluded. The assumption that mainly white people are able to play roles meant for minority actors gets reinforced, and it leads to the idea that they should stay silent, remain fetishised, and be represented by only the dominant ethnicity and ruling group.

The movie industry has the power to control the representation of specific racial groups. In other words, they have the influence to promote and enable positive or harmful stereotypes. Since the beginning of cinema, the practice of hiring white actors for East Asian roles existed and still continues to this day. Actors would use heavy makeup (ie: yellow toned face paint/foundation, black eyeliner, etc.) and tape to make their eyes look smaller in order to appear more ‘Oriental’ and foreign. Not only does this grossly appropriate and exaggerate facial characteristics of East Asians, but it would also be combined with stereotypical behaviors used for mockery, and also contributing an ethnocentric representation of what being ‘Asian’ is, as non-Asians can only draw upon said stereotypical behavior, since they have no real experience of being immersed in the life and culture as a racial minority.

So, the issue is not just a lack of visibility, or the denial of roles for East Asians and the Chinese, but the abuse and misrepresentation from those in positions of power to control their narratives. From doing so, they get to maintain their power, dominance, while staying at the top of the racial and hierarchical ladder in society, as long as the stereotypes they can perpetuate continue existing.

Past incidents of racism are proof that stereotypes always start somewhere, such as within ads, and forms of art and entertainment like films. No matter how minor, stereotypes have the power to affect people’s lives to put them at larger psychological and financial disadvantages in life to further divide and separate them from the ruling groups in society, and the groups they perceive as normal and acceptable, as enforced by them in order to continue maintaining their power.
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exit essay
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