• David Ka Lok Shek
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
By doing a content analysis of the large catalogue of Marvel films, this thesis aims to examine how Marvel and by extension Hollywood is perpetuating the narrative of Asian representation. Films produced by Marvel Studios is perpetuating racial stereotypes of people of Asian descent, such as portraying them as model minorities if they are positive characters or yellow perils if they are negative characters. The continuation of these portrayals is reflected by the roles that are given to Asian and Asian descended actors. These actors are given roles that restrict them to their colors. For Hollywood, the color of the skin of the actors are more important than their capabilities in acting. By examining the films from Phase One to Phase Four through content analysis, the thesis is tracking the development of Asian representation from 2008 to 2021. From Phase One to Phase Two which took seven years to finish, the presence of actors of Asian descent is minimal. Characters are portrayed as stereotypes, given a strictly, limited screen time of two minutes and a lack of dialogue. By Phase Three which began in 2016 and ended in 2019, Asian representation has improved with more screen time and dialogues. Despite the increased visibility in screen time and more Asian actors being given supporting roles, Marvel is still perpetuating the stereotypes by regulating Asians as foreigners, model minorities or aliens. Additionally, Marvel is selective in the body types of their Asian actors. Actors with a large body structure are given supporting roles. This body image is contrasted with actors with athletic bodies being given antagonistic roles or serving as living props for the white leads to punch. Marvel’s selection of Asian bodies connects with how gender and sexualities are portrayed among characters played by Asian actors. For the male characters, there are no interracial relationships between Asians and whites in the films. On the other hand, female characters played by Asian actresses are allowed to have interracial relationships with white men. The women are hyperfeminine and they long for white male bodies. Whether portrayed as aliens or people, characters played by Asian actors are often the target of mockery. Both good and evil characters are the targets of verbal and physical abuse in the films. Verbal abuses are played for comedy which masquerades as positive interactions. Physical abuse is covered by the fast-paced editing which makes the suffering endured by the characters invisible. Additionally, the use of mockery, either through comedy or violence, is done to suppress Asian visibility in the films; thus, limiting the representation of Asians in media. The danger of these effects is the normalization of hate crimes and stereotypes toward people of East-Asian descent.
Publication date31 May 2022
ID: 471658060