In this journal “Be The One That You Want” Kim describes Asian representation in television as a policy and business issue as well as a cultural one. “To be invisible in visual culture is not have power in society” (Kim,125). She explained Asians in television through the 60s-90s, showing that representations focus on the Asian as the other, the foreigner, or the token model minority. Asian American characters began to appear in situational comedies or otherwise comedic roles on television, seemingly all at once.
More pointedly, the representations of Asian Americans presented in television “Asian Americans are viewers consumers citizens (126).” have gradually shifted from those of racialized stereotypes of first-generation immigrant Asians to more dynamic portrayals of second-generation Asian Americans “who have potential to transform racial representation in television”.
In further, Kim stated that Asian Americans have been granted an “honorary-white” minority label, or the “model minority” label, masking the more problematic issues that immigration brings to a culture. The “white-washed” story may be indicative of Asian representation in television As Kim pointed out, Asian Americans are able to stand in as both white and colored characters, thereby transcending cultural barriers in order to play daring roles that other white or minority actors cannot play “an image or a performance can be understood by Asian Americans in a different way than by non-Asian Americans”.
In addition, the representation of Asian Americans in the sociohistorical process by racial categories involves “social structure and cultural representation”, underlying contradictions of Asian representation in network television.
Kim goes on to Asians representation in television which “Asian Americans need to recognize their acting role in the ways television programs are made (142)”. However, the representation of Asians, it is still problematic that most of these characterizations reflect the same racialized and gendered ideologies established within American society. While it may seem that racial inequality is a thing of the past as far as representation of minorities on television are concerned, on close examination, it becomes evident that these representations continue to maintain a white normative identity in an increasingly diverse society. For instance, Kim mentioned, Asian characters tend to be played by the same actor over and over again.
This helps maintain “specific physical characteristics”, of what an Asian should look like in American television, however, this also limits the opportunity for those actors who identify outside of these established norms of representations. In conclusion, the primary topic that stands out is that of Margaret Cho the first Asian American woman to have her own television show. The problems with this show are relevant to any show that features minority characters, as producers wanted the show to cater to white, not minority Asian, audiences. For example, “Cho’s realization of the power she has not only as a performer but as an individual should resonate for Asian American television viewers consumers citizens (143).” Her ultimate argument is for Asian Americans to work actively to demand and create Asian characters in television media an argument that is potentially problematic as it villainizes the mainstream and treats TV space as a medium where Asian Americans are fighting for quantity rather than the quality of characters.