Monday, November 21, 2005

Reality Check

I know this blog is rapidly becoming all "Grey's Anatomy" all the time, but there was another major development this week in terms of Asian American male representation.

In tonight's episode, written by show creator Shonda Rimes, we finally see the appearance of a possible recurring Asian American male part. Some folks are further fuming because he was cast as the bartender's gay love interest. I do agree that combined with some of the earlier episodes, it's a disturbing trending, but in the representation game, we can't always be attacking people who are doing positive on your behalf.

Being upset about this role is no more homophobic than when both LGBT groups and Asian groups were upset about the Details "Gay or Asian" fiasco. The stereotype that AMs are only attractive in a gay context is damaging to both racial and sexual orientation equality.

But we must remember that the two struggles are intertwined, not opposing. Grey's Anatomy just won a Diversity Award and it should. The show has been amazing at casting quanitity and quality in minority roles.

In fact, it's better than that. The show is written from a PoC perspective most of the time. Sure, it's no coincidence that when Rimes isn't writing, the show is worse on all levels, including racially. But the Bailey character is the prototype minority activist warrior--she not only outperforms the white folks and men around her, she destroys them. Her character is so powerful, that even when white folks write, they are forced to consider a minority perspective in order to make her at all believable. That's a major accomplishment on Rimes' part.

We should be critical of the show and we must demand portrayals of Asian American men that dispel damaging stereotypes. They needn't be at the expense of screen time for positive portrayals of women, other ethnicities or LGBT characters--they just need to be there.

But we should also remember to evaluate the show relative to other show's on TV. There is NO show that better advances an equal representation agenda in the entire media world. Let's support and mold this institution.


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