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Asian Culture Day: Asian-Americans in the Media

by Maya Abou-Rizk

The “Asian-Americans in the Media” panel took place during this school’s Asian Culture Day B-block in the Little Theatre.

English teacher Michele Leong presented a slide show comparing Asian-Americans to white Americans in popular movies and television shows. Leong explained that the roles and attitudes of Asian-American women differ, but that Asian-American women are usually publicized as hyper sexualized. She continued by adding that Asian-American men are publicized as the “laughing stalk” and are emasculated overall.

After, three students from the cast and crew of Thoroughly Modern Millie, a musical surrounded by controversy around its portrayal of Asians, joined English teachers Peter Goddard and Brad Jensen to discuss the show.

Senior Kelsey Fox explained her role in the show could potentially cause much concern among the audience. Fox is playing Mrs. Meers, a white woman who pretends to be Asian. Fox said that she will be playing a very politically incorrect and “derogatory, to say the least” role in the musical. Motivated to not offend people in the audience, Fox explained, “My job is to make sure the audience laughs at my character and not at Asian culture.” Fox has been, “learning and listening to our Asian community,” in order to limit the offensiveness of her role.

The panel explained that they were all trying to round out their characters of the racist show. “We try to round out characters, and make them more like humans and less like caricatures,” said Jensen.

Theater Ink director Adam Brown stepped into the conversation and said, “Sure, it would’ve been easier to not pick this show, but because we have, it has caused a lot of questions and communication. That is certainly a learning opportunity for everyone.”

“I’m glad Theatre Ink is doing the show and I’m glad to be a part of this show,” said Senior Hiroki Shibuya.

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