The onset of globalization has resulted in increased interactions between people of diverse races. The world has become a global society marked by the emergence of the new media age. Despite the crucial role that has been created by the media in bridging the cultural diversity and fostering understanding among the different cultures, there is still simplification and labeling of cultural divergences. The result is the creation of a perception and images that serve to draw cultural boundaries.
The boundaries form the basis of exclusion based on cultural orientation rather on individual traits. Therefore, this paper will explore the various forms of stereotypes against people with Chinese cultural backgrounds in the United States of America. The paper will provide an in-depth analysis of stereotypes in relation to the media portrayal of the minority races in the U.S. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of the implication of stereotypes, a case study will be used to inform the discussion. Critical cultural theories will be used to analyze and inform the discourse of stereotyping of the people with Chinese cultural background in the USA.
Overview of Stereotypes
Stereotypes are the cognitive structures that are constructed based on beliefs and expectations about various groups. Stereotypes are normally distorted beyond social reality. They are the simplified perceptions that a cultural group holds for another. Cultural stereotypes include overgeneralizations and oversimplification. According to Chen (29), a common issue that affects perception in the different ethnic groups is the creation of opinions and beliefs that undermine the targeted groups. According to Hofstede (102), culture informs the experiences of various groups. The different cultural symbols, norms, and cultural communication lead to perceptions. Hofstede (104) noted that a culture is a software of the mind. All human beings have similar hardware; however, the configuration of the software is different (Hofstede 104).
The differences in the programming of the brains are the source of assumptions and stereotypes (Hofstede 121). In modern society, the mass media plays the role of programming the software of the mind. The fundamental patterns of stereotypes brought about by cultural differences such as differences in communication are driven by cultural beliefs, the approaches to a particular set of values, and particular perceptions. The differences produce an inferior perception towards a specific culture or cohort. According to Cardon (21), behavioral stereotypes affect the social and economic interactions in a community.
Stereotypes are based on prejudices. According to Zhang and Xu (79), stereotypes entail the formation of an opinion on given people based on general opinion towards the groups. The stereotypes end up creating prejudices. The stereotypes are propagated by the mass media. Bearing in mind the diverse and voluminous information carried by the media, it raises concerns whether the content in the media is a true reflection of the social world. According to Wilson (245), there is a gap between media depictions and the real social world. The media overemphasizes some traits that may not depict reality. For example, the media tend to focus on the aspects that are limited in society, such as sex, gender, and violence. The different types of media have continued to use stereotypes to portray minority groups. For example, the periods after the Second World War, the media grew extensively. However, the film industry used stereotypical images for the minority races, though in a less crude form compared to the earlier portrayals. The media depicted Asians as violent villains. Hofstede (104) noted that the earlier stereotypes of minority groups still persist in modern society and form a significant content of modern media.
In order to explore the stereotypes of the people with Chinese cultural backgrounds in America, the paper will examine the various media content and their representation of the minority groups with a key focus on the Asians and Asian Americans with Chinese cultural backgrounds. The paper will use a case example of prominent Asian Americans that have encountered demeaning stereotypes. Therefore, the question that will guide the analysis of the stereotypes and the media include:
- How do the media portray the realities of the social world?
- What stereotypes do the American media depict Americans with Chinese cultural backgrounds?
How does the portrayal of Chinese Americans affect their roles in society?
In order to explore the stereotypes and the media orientation towards the depiction of the people with Chinese cultural background in the U.S, a case analysis of media stereotypes will be analyzed. The case study will entail analysis of the life of people of Chinese descent in the USA that have endured stereotypes in their stay in the USA. The paper will focus on a prominent basketball player of Asian descent that has broken the stereotypes to become one of the promising NBA players. The case study will review the life of the player, the professional limitations he has faced due to the stereotypes and ways the player has been able to overcome the stereotypes.
The case study will then be analyzed using various critical cultural theories that relate to racism and stereotyping of minority groups. In addition, there will be critical analysis and comparison of media content in America over a period of type. The analysis will help to ascertain whether there have been elements of stereotypes in U.S media. The key cross-cultural theories that will be applied in the analysis of the media content and their implications are the cultivation theory, the media reinforcement theory, and the critical cultural theory.
The case studies are crucial in the provision of an intensive description of an individual or group of people. The case studies normally provide firsthand information on the phenomena being studied; in addition, they provide the basis of challenging theoretical assumptions. The case studies provide an in-depth understanding of various societal perspectives. Therefore, in the analysis of the stereotypes on people with Chinese cultural background in the US, the analysis will provide firsthand experience of the person being studied. The main disadvantage of case studies is that the information collected may be difficult to generalize. However, the application of the various theories will help in expounding the issue of stereotypes, and hence generalizations will be based on a wide array of theoretical provisions.
Case study: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin possessed athletic talent in basketball, but the talents were not noticed by different college teams, which has been attributed to his cultural backgrounds. In high school, he failed to receive any scholarship and proceeded to Harvard’s roster. In his tenure at Harvard’s roster, Jeremy’s athletic prowess enabled him to set many records in basketball. Despite the records in the four consecutive years, he was never drafted in the NBA Draft.
Lin was discovered after a stellar performance during the NBA summer league. Thereafter, the Golden State Warriors gave him a partial contract. The team did not exploit his potential and was dropped after two years. Later, the New York Knicks picked him. At the Knicks, he was not put on the first line up; he struggled to get a chance to play and was assigned to Erie Bay Hawks. The team belongs to the NBA development league, and it is normal for players to raise their performance. After three days, the Knicks recalled Jeremy. He only got a chance to play after some three Knicks’ players were unable to play due to injuries. Lin produced a stunning performance, which helped the Knicks to overcome the Nets.
The subsequent five matches proved that Lin had the capability to match the NBA standards despite having been ignored since his high school schooling. In fact, Lin became the first NBA player to record over 20 points in five consecutive games. The stellar performance led to the word “Linsanity,” which started trending in different media platforms. Despite the outstanding performance, most media commentators attributed the “Linsanity” to luck. The term ‘luck’ is a depiction of the stereotype that failed to recognize the true elite of an Asian American athlete. The success Lin has attracted a lot of media attention, which seems to negate the skill possessed by Lin that matches other NBA elites.
There are different traits that have been used to describe Lin; unfortunately, they relate to stereotypes that have been ascribed to the Asian Americans in the past. For instance, the use of terms such as ‘shifty’ to describe Lin is stereotypical. The intent of the media may be to depict his ability in the field; however, the term has been used in the past to describe Asians as employing deceit to gain an advantage. In social media, someone likened Lin to Taiwanese Tim Tebo. This is despite the fact that in America, there are many people in which Lin can be likened to, but ascribing his character to a Taiwanese signifies the lessening of the Asian Americans. Most of the descriptions seem to limit Lin instead of focusing on the achievements in his young life and the barriers he has conquered to achieve the status. Jeremy Lin is a classic example of the media stereotyping of Asian Americans. In many cases, he has been portrayed as an underdog. However, his success amidst the stereotypes points to his resilience and downplays the falsehoods of the stereotypes that create perceptions that Asians cannot match the other Americans in the sports arena.
Critical Cultural Theories
The various critical theories are used in social inquiry. The theories provide a normative basis aimed at challenging in g domination and increasing freedom. The goal of Critical Cultural Theories is to effect widespread change in media and cultural systems.
The type of communication that the modern media has brought is based on programmed sociality in which people from diverse cultures can provide opinions based on the media content conveyed through various media platforms (Cohen & Weinmann 99). The cultivation theory endeavors to explain the effect of media exposure to audiences. The theory stipulates that prolonged exposure to media content affects the way an individual sees the world.
The cultivation theory propagates the idea of the media content and its implication on the public. For instance, in the past, the American media was dominated by the portrayal of Asians and Africans in an inferior manner. As a result, American society formed negative perceptions towards the minority groups such as the Blacks and the Asians. Therefore, the heavy media users are likely to develop a particular perception of the minority groups, either positive or negative. The theory is based on the arguments that the media stereotypes are the same; therefore, no matter the type of media an individual is aligned to, similar stereotypes will be portrayed.
According to Cohen and Weinmann (101), viewing the television can have a long-term effect on the audience and may end up creating a social behavior that relates to the depictions in the media. For instance, the heavy viewers of television are likely to form attitudes and beliefs that the messages and images by television present the reality. Therefore, the fact that there are elements portraying Asian Americans as inferiors, the media followers end up forming the perception of the Asian Americans; hence, the start of speculations. Cohen and Weinmann (99) argued that the attitudes formed are based on the prevailing beliefs that are in contemporary society.
Cohen and Weinmann (103) noted that the role of the media is to reinforce the attitudes and present them in packages suitable for consumption by the audiences. Cohen and Weinmann (103) stated that that the main principle advanced by the theory is that media does not challenge the status quo but reinforces it. Therefore, the influence of the media cannot be underestimated in the propagation of prejudices in American society.
Media Reinforcement Theory
The theory stipulates that all human beings have a collection of possible behaviors that can be applied in various situations (Miller 13). The behaviors are reinforced if the individual comes into contact with a message that relates to the behavior. According to Miller (13), the media acts as a reinforcer of behavior and social order. Even though the theory is basically used in the explanation of the violence and more so the influence of media on the youth, the theory also relates to cultural change that is caused by the exposure to given mediated messages.
The messages create connotations towards a social aspect. A mediated message on racial differences creates perception towards a particular race, and there is the possibility of the perception being translated into action. For instance, the media’s display of the Asian as evil villains in different films could be translated by the consumers of the films to imply that the Asians as evil in reality; hence, creating a false stereotype of the Asians. The theory forms a framework that denotes the media as a crucial social agent that influences the formation of stereotypes.
Social Cognitive Theory
The theory relates to the formation of values, beliefs, and attitudes. Bandura (16) noted that the theory is concerned with the means by which human beings learn values. According to Bandura (162), the formation of the values, attitudes, and beliefs can be through different dimensions that can be directional or non-directional. The theory states that people learn how to behave by copying the behavior of others.
Examples of the agents of learning include the teachers, friends, and coaches. However, in contemporary society, the main agents of learning behaviors are the presentations by the mass media. Cohen and Weinmann (101) argued that in modern American society, mass media had become an important agent that influences the various activities. The media exposes behaviors and beliefs of different cultures. Therefore, the staunch followers of media end up aligning to the behavior being conveyed by the media and accept it as reality.
According to Bandura (18), the evolvement of human beings is marked by the capability to advance their knowledge and skills by acquiring information that is presented to them through various media channels. Bandura (102) noted that virtually all human beings’ behaviors are transferred from direct learning achieved by observation of other people’s actions. The social learning takes place through design or by the influence of the immediate environment. Despite the unintentional learning, Miller (14) argued that the information about human values and the pattern of thinking are gained from the symbolic environment portrayed by the mass media. The phenomenon is referred to as symbolic modeling.
The symbolic modeling has a tremendous psychological impact because a symbol model can result in a new way of thinking, which affects many people. The preconceptions of social reality are significantly dictated by what the people see, read, and hear (Bandura 106). The media’s symbolic environment plays a great role in the creation of conceptions. Therefore, in the contemporary society in which information about various aspects is readily available, the images created through the messages in the various media platforms inform the thinking of the audiences. The information becomes the basis of forming ideas and beliefs about other people.
For instance, the mass media such as the television, print media have an attracting power and are easily accessible to the public. As a result, the mass media is used as the basis of justifying social perceptions. The information propagated by the media forms ideology in society. For example, a lot of media content that is stereotypical of the minority groups such as the disabled, women, and some races such as the Blacks and Asians categorizes and hedges the groups; hence sidelining them from the mainstream societal activities. The case of Lin is a depiction of how behaviors and values are implanted in the minds of the people. Lin’s abilities could not be recognized due to the generalization and oversimplification targeting the people of the Asian origins in the NBA arena.
Critical Race theory
The critical race theory endeavors to analyze the various aspects of the society that have marginalized people of the minority races, such as the Asians and the Blacks. The theory’s main tenets are based on challenging the hegemony of a single race by advancing the discourse of racism based on legal precepts (Bandura 19). In relation to media content, the critical race theory challenges the traditional depiction of the races and advocates for equal opportunity and neutrality of races. The theorists aligned to the critical race theory argue that the traditional perceptions formed by the media are normally meant to benefit the dominant groups in society. Therefore, the theorists apply the reasoning to analyze the way race and racism issues that are presented in various contexts of society.
The theory’s main commitment is in social justice and the elimination of stereotypes that enhance racism. For instance, in line with the increase in stereotypical imagery portrayed by mainstream media in the U.S, the Asian American Organization decried the sidelining of the Asian characters on television and various films. In addition, the organizations campaigned against the images that were considered stereotypical of the Asian communities. The result has been a significant reduction in the negative media portrayal of minority groups. It is noticeable that the blatant stereotypical images are rare in the U.S media. However, there are still stereotypical racial representations though on subtle depictions. The modern stereotypes are based on denial and hostility towards minority groups.
Findings and Discussions
Human beings have the nature of evaluating the things they encounter in their daily lives. The evaluation includes the formation of opinions about people and cultures. NBA standout Jeremy Lin’s failure to get a major college basketball scholarship or a roster spot through the NBA draft probably had to do with his Asian ethnicity. For example, he led his high school team to a state championship. His performance made him be recognized as player of the year in California. However, he did not get a scholarship to nearby basketball clubs such as UCLA or Stanford. Both Lin and the NBA commissioner attributed the failure to his Chinese cultural background. Lin noted that his athletic ability had nothing to do with ethnicity; however, the perceptions of Asian Americans probably were the main barrier.
The media stereotypes have the potential of creating a negative portrayal of some ethnic groups. The result is the creation of cultural boundaries that exclude some people from mainstream activities even when they are qualified. The stereotypes propagated by the media shutter the archetype phenomenon of Americans with Asian of Chinese origins. A case example relates to Jeremy Lin, whose rise in NBA basketball has been described as ‘Linsanity.’ Despite having portrayed prowess in basketball during the high school and Harvard schooling, no NBA team that gave him a scholarship or opportunity to play. The failure of the teams to draft Lin in the NBA was attributed to his Chinese cultural origin.
The mass media plays an immense role in contemporary society in the dissemination of information. Due to the crucial role played by the media, the media is held in high esteem and takes a significant position in preference among the American people. Attitudes and perceptions are formed based on media coverage. It is through the media that people acquire knowledge about the world and by sorting and simplification of information. One of the emerging schemes that are used by the media includes stereotyping. The overgeneralizations and simplifications result in subjective perceptions that hinder the public from seeing reality. For many years, many minority groups, such as Asians, Africans, and homosexuals, suffered from prejudicial portraits.
The humanity of the minority groups was demeaned by the various media portrayal, which formed perceptions about the minority groups. The stereotypical images were in various dimensions (Croteau & Hoynes 190). For instance, in some cases, negative portraits were used in the media.
Other cases entailed assigning the roles of assistance to the minority groups. A noticeable prejudice was the failure to include the minority races in different entertainment programs and movies. For instance, before the Second World War, there were no African Americans characters in Hollywood movies. However, after the Second World War, African Americans started being assigned the roles of assistance in the movies or being involved in passive roles (Croteau & Hoynes 190). Asian Americans witnessed a similar trend. However, after the decry of the various anti-stereotypes organizations, there has been a notable change in which more Asian Americans are included in the television shows.
The stereotypical images in the different media have continually been challenged by media rights organizations that monitor the content of the media. In addition, organizations lobbying against stereotypes have objected to some films that openly depict Asian Americans in a negative stereotypical manner. For instance, the film ‘Lethal Weapon 4’ in which Jet Li was portrayed as an evil villain (Croteau & Hoynes 192). The challenges of the stereotypes by the organizations have led to more minority groups being featured in entertainment films. Furthermore, the racist images that earlier dominated the mainstream U.S media have reduced.
However, the stereotypical portrayal of minority groups has not been eliminated. Croteau & Hoynes (193) noted that without much effort, there is a high chance of finding stereotypical portrayals in media. The study of the modern media content points to modern racism in which stereotypes are not the outright defamatory depictions of the Africans and Asians.
The current stereotypes are based on the denial of the capability of the Asians or blacks. For instance, achievements by Asians and Blacks are not recognized; sometimes, they are dismissed as luck. The stereotypes are in an approach that does not use defamatory images or words, but in a way that puts the stereotypes bellow conscious awareness (Croteau & Hoynes 193). Both the entertainment and the news media have been skewed towards the dominant people in the society.
In the U.S, a lot of media coverage is based on class in which a lot of content is assigned to the elite. An example includes business news in which the media put a lot of emphasis on the stock markets, yet very few Americans have equities in the stock markets. The case of the class parallels the case of races that are also categorized and given preference. The whites control most of the media; hence, they are given preference over the Blacks and the Asians. As a result, the media relegates the minority races to the periphery and focuses on the whites. The result is social exclusion.
Ellis (24) noted that the portrayal of the media also results in the creation of negative perceptions in which the minority succumbs to the stereotypes and believe that they cannot match the whites. Ellis (24) argued that media content reflects the inequality that exists in modern American society (Croteau & Hoynes, 196). Media and communication form an important aspect of human beings. According to Mercile (7), people of various cultures have ways in which they share information, thoughts, and ideas.
Historically, different cultural groups developed and nurtured their ways of communication. In modern society, communication has remained to be an essential pillar that informs the integration of different cultures. In traditional societies, there were different forms in which communities passed information and stored the information. For example, in sub-Sahara Africa, communication was through dance, drums, and the use of messengers. In addition, there were particular people who taught the subsequent generations the significant symbols that formed the culture of the particular ethnic group.
In modern society, communication has advanced. Cultural hybridization has resulted in languages that are considered international. Therefore, many people comprehend the international languages. As a result, mass media has become an important hallmark of today’s communication as information from different cultural and social orientations can easily be shared. According to Cohen and Weinmann (103), the print media, television, and social media have become important instruments in which information touching on different cultures is carried. The advancement of technology implies that people rely on the mass media to get crucial information on different aspects of daily life and happenings in the global society.
Despite the technological advancement and the onset of the new media age, in the U.S, the content carried by the media has remained unbalanced. The whites have dominated the various instruments of disseminating information. The implication is that they have been in a better position to tell their story in a positive manner, a chance which the minorities have lacked.
The history of human communication has evolved from the traditional oral dissemination of information to the modern technologically-based methods of passing information. The new media is accessible to many people (Wilson, 246). Even though technological advancement and its advancements in the media have reduced the sense of distance and created a global society, the media has been the source of ascertaining values and the creation of cultural perceptions.
The mass media is a very influential institution across the globe. Gamson et al. (375) argued that the mass media has a special role in influencing the perspective and attitudes of people towards a given group of people. According to Knobloch (112), the information carried by media can control the minds and thoughts of consumers. The media serves as a driver of hegemony among the elite groups and hedges the minorities. The media drives the societal dominance of a particular group by the influence of ideas that appear universal to the social group. The aspect of the influence has both the negative and positive aspects of society. The negative depiction of a given cultural group creates social order in which major cultural groups end up being acclaimed as the representation of the societal reality while the negatively portrayed groups are dethroned their place in the society.
Mercille (9) noted that the public believes the spin propagated by the media. The media is the bedrock in which attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions are propagated. According to Mercille (9), the stereotypes that patronize, medicalize, and dehumanize people are prevalent in the USA’s mass media. The media, such as the print media, is a fundamental institution that can promote or exploit and discriminate the minority groups such as the minority races in America. The portrayal of the disabled in the news, entertainment, and print media significantly contribute to the systematic exclusion of the minority groups from mainstream society.
According to Gamson et al. (382), the way the information is presented in the media about a group has a great impact on influencing the attitude of the public towards the given social or economic phenomena. In the United States of America, the mass media is one of the significant forces that drive the formation and delimitation of assumptions and propagation of ideologies. The presentations of people from the small cultural groups in America are often distorted; as a result, a culture of negative perception is implanted into the minds of the public. In line with the negative presentation of minority groups, Chen (23) noted that the negative media portrayals contribute to the perpetuation of the stigma and discrimination. The result is an enduring opinion of the public towards the different races of color.
Saito and Ishiyama (475) provided a case example depiction of the negative social attitudes in different mass media and social forums. The study established that the perceptions that are perpetuated by different beliefs and use of the demeaning words to depict the people of the Asian origin negated the integrations of the people in the mainstream societal activities and professions. According to Saito and Ishiyama (477), the negative stereotypes push people with disabilities to the periphery of society. Knobloch (115) noted that in contemporary society, the media, whether print or broadcast, acts as the social mirror of society.
Therefore, the content carried in the media determines the perceptions that relate to the various people with disabilities. Furthermore, Zhang and Xu (78) stated that the attitudes that result from media depictions are not universal. The negative depictions prey on public ignorance in regard to the minority racial groups in the USA. For example, the presentation of the Asian Americans as villains in many films perpetuated the notion in the society that Asians cannot fit in the ascribed American culture.
The fundamental patterns of stereotypes brought about by cultural differences such as differences in communication are driven by cultural beliefs, the approaches to a given set of values, and particular perceptions. The differences produce an inferior perception of a given culture or cohort. According to Chen (28), behavioral stereotypes affect the social and economic interactions in a community. An example of a common stereotype of the Asians and Asian Americans is that they are considered weak and thus cannot be included in masculine sports.
The stereotype generalizes the Asians without the regard of personal attributes. It also fails to recognize the diversity of Asian cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, and other Asians from the eastern region. The stereotypes of the Asians being unable to perform some crucial jobs have led to the Asian American with Chinese backgrounds holding the least important positions in the American Society.
Stereotypes act as barriers to intercultural communications. People from different cultures use stereotypes to form opinions and make sense of another culture by classifying people based on given traits, which may be false or true. Hofstede (112) noted that, in many instances, stereotypes are problematic because they overgeneralize and oversimplify beliefs. Saito and Ishiyama (475) noted that there are different dimensions in which stereotypes act as barriers to intercultural communications. Stereotypes make the consumers of media contents assume that a particular belief about a group is true.
The notion hinders social integration because it is based on the perception of one culture being superior to the other. If the perception is negative, prejudice is created. The stereotypes result in a context of self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, the stereotype that Asians and Asian Americans belong to a culture different from the typical American culture creates a sense of complacency among the Asian Americans; hence, they do not strive to achieve higher goals that are open to all Americans. Hofstede (113) noted that stereotypes are propagated based on ambiguity.
The mass media in America has bred a culture that limits the minority groups to some professions. Even though the open depiction of the minority groups as lesser members of society has diminished in the media, there still exists modern racism that is based on denial (Demby par. 3). The case of Lin presents a typical example in which his skills in basketball were ignored, a case Lin attributes to his Chinese cultural background. The trending “Linsanity” that depicts the skill and competence displayed by Lin averts the stereotypes and presents the media with an opportunity to show the equality of races. The equality of races can be in the various fields such as the basketball that, in the past, very few Americans of Asians descent have featured.
The media in America has depicted the Chinese as heavy laden with an accent that is not typical of the American’s mastery of words. In order to overcome the stereotypes and prove the worth of the Asian American, Lin has tried to dispel the negative perception by rising from the bench and proving that just as the other races, the Asians can perform. Thus, he has proved the American vision of individualism, where competence should be judged on personal achievement but not on generational lineage.
Lin has also dispelled the stereotypes related to the Chinese accent and the perception that Asian Americans speak broken English. Whenever he talks and interacts with media, he speaks fluent English that reaffirms the reality of Asians having been completely acculturated to the American culture, a fact that the media has failed to depict. Despite the “Linsanity” has spread throughout the country, it is worth noting that the worth of Lin was overlooked, and still, the media downplays his worth.
Media plays a crucial role in influencing the perceptions of people towards a common phenomenon (Ellis 32). In contemporary society, the representation of the minority groups in media has been progressive; however, there is a repeated presentation of stereotypes. For many decades, the presence of Asian Americans has been presented in a stereotypical manner in the American media (Croteau & Hoynes, 191). For example, the depiction of Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu in a manner that pointed to being submissive detectives and evil villains. The continuous view of Asian Americans based on stereotypes across the various media platforms has created a perception that the public has used to define the minority groups. The repetition of some stereotypes that depict a particular cultural group as inferior perpetuates a falsehood towards the minority group.
Stereotypes refer to the pictures that people hold and perceive them as the truth. According to Ellis (32), stereotypes precede the application of reasoning and impose a particular character to an individual based on generalizations. In many cases, stereotypes are negative though some stereotypes are positive.
The much attention of media to “Linsanity” points to the stereotypical nature towards the Americans with Chinese cultural background. The media and the audience love underdog stories. In the analysis of Lin’s case, having gone undrafted in his schooling and having been put on the bench by the Knicks, his performance, and cultural orientation presents a phenomenal case, which draws the media attention. In the analysis of Lin’s performance, the media fails to notice the prowess that has been suppressed for many years due to the racial stereotypes. The various media have had catchy headlines such as the ‘rising star’ and ‘the only Asian America on the NBA.’ The ‘rising star’ phrase buries the earlier achievement by Lin and concentrates on the present. According to Demby (par. 4), the media portrays the present and negates the successful past that ought to have been highlighted by the media. It fails to point to the failures of the colleges and NBA recruiters in drafting Lin early in his life.
Despite the stereotypes that have limited the minority groups such as the Americans of Chinese cultural background, the case of Lin points to the positive side of media’s ability to burst the stereotypes and create a platform for recognition. American society glorifies its champions. The champions’ T-shirts are produced and sold even before a game kicks off and is preserved as souvenirs. However, for an Asian American, such as Lin, the case was different from the “Linsanity” and the “#17” trending after his stellar performance, a key difference with the other champions who trend before the game. Thus, Lin has served as stardom who has risen against the prejudices and the stereotypes labeled against Asian Americans as lazy.
Globalization is a new dispensation that has created an interconnected society. There is an active exchange of activities between people of diverse cultures. Essentially, Cardon (22) argued that globalization has increased intercultural communication and served to erase the spatial and social boundaries. Amidst the globalization, cultural identities persist. Though the new media has been instrumental in driving globalization, there is the concept of the stereotypical portrayal of some groups that have hindered the integration. In a country like America, which is recognized for cultural hybridization, the media for a long time has carried images that have tended to assign meaning to people based on their cultural orientations. For instance, Asian Americans have been portrayed in different films as evil villains, lazy and inferior to the other Americans. Similar prejudices have been leveled against the African Americans.
Knobloch (109) noted that despite the advancement in technology, the new media age, which has ushered an interconnected globe, there are prevalent cultural differences that act on the basis of varying ideologies and perceptions. America has been denoted as having had a culture that emphasizes individual competence and achievement. The culture is aimed at recognizing individual achievement without relying on the cultural background. However, the analysis of the media content points to a common stereotype where individuals are not judged on their worth and competence but based on the formed cultural stereotypes.
The American entertainment media has, for many decades, had a restrictive portrayal of the Asians. The media has been the defining element of the various cultural groups in American society. Unfortunately, the definition carried by the media does not depict the social and cultural reality in relation to some cultural identities. Croteau and Hoynes (19) noted that the filmmakers had had both limited and unbalanced presentation of Asians in the entertainment industry.
The media, in many instances, has presented the Asians as incompatible with the American culture. The media has failed to make distinctions between the Asian Americans acculturated citizens, and the Asians nationals that have their culture. For example, Asian Americans have been ascribed as foreigners that cannot be integrated into the mainstream American culture. Asian Americans are often perceived as having a culture that is a distinctive culture that cannot be absorbed into American society. The portrayal has been that nothing that has cultural relations to the Asians is part of the American society.
The stereotypes have resulted in the restriction of Asian Americans to some jobs and limited them to others. For instance, in mainstream sports such as the NBA, for many decades, Asians have not been drafted to join the game. This does not mean that Asian Americans are not skilled in basketball but due to cultural boundaries that have been drawn based on stereotypes propagated by the media. The stereotypes relegate the Asian Americans to supporting roles in various occupations in which the key positions are left for the whites. On being drafted by Knickers, Lin was put on the bench with no chance for startup lineup. His role was just in case the non-Asian Americans were not available. Therefore, he only got the chance to confirm his ability after three players could not play due to injuries and family emergencies. The chance gave him the opportunity to lead the Knickers to NBA victory.
The stenotypes of people of Chinese cultural background are rife in the USA. The stereotypes have limited the Chinese and other Asians from achieving their potential. The main driver of the stereotypes has been the mass media that has a lot of power in influencing people’s perceptions and attitudes towards various social-cultural issues. However, over decades, the media has evolved, and there are elements of inclusivity of the minority races in the media content.
In addition, there are positive perspectives in the mainstream media houses in the U.S. Despite the inclusivity, which has been brought about by lobbying for equal representation, there are elements of modern racism. The elements include denial by the white Americans that the Chinese have the capability in some activities as the case example of Jeremy Lin. Despite the negative perceptions, the people of Chinese cultural background in the U.S have endeavored to challenge the stereotypes by working hard to prove their merit in various positions.
The new media age provides a basis for restructuring the media content and avoiding the possible bias brought about by various media platforms. The “Linsanity” trend has been attributed to social media, which bridges the gaps created by the other mainstream media. Still, there are phrases in various media that denote the aspects of stereotyping the minority groups in China. Therefore, in an endeavor to challenge the stereotypes, there is a need for an in-depth analysis of the current media depictions and the role of the new media age, such as social media. The following questions will be critical in informing the future discourse of the role of current media in challenging or propagating stereotypes on minority cultural groups in America:
- What measures should the media employ to ensure that there is a realistic depiction of cultural diversity?
- What are the roles of minority cultural groups in bridging the gap between the image created by media and the reality?
It is natural for human beings to judge other people based on their deeds and physical appearances. The judgments are normally made from an individual’s standpoint, which may result in the imposition of a stereotype on the other group. However, the judgments are made without foreseeing the possible consequences. Thus, it is important to be open-minded when socializing and publishing information about a particular social group. Chen (28) noted that acknowledgment of the limitations that exist within cultural diversity serves as the basis for bursting the negative stereotypes. Therefore, open-mindedness in digesting information and ascribing meaning to various media information plays a critical role in avoiding the mistake of excluding others on the basis of negative stereotypes. It is worth noting that the ascribing of meaning and the images created by media segregate and draw boundaries that limit the minority groups.
Many Asian Americans, such as the Chinese, have been acculturated to the American culture. Some of the Chinese migrated to America while others are citizens by birth and have the American culture deep-rooted in them. However, the use of stereotypes creates a perception of hegemony among the White Americans and hedges the minority groups. The case of Jeremy Lin depicts the consequences of negative media stereotypes against Asian Americans. Despite his hard work and the zeal to overcome the negative stereotypes, there is still the perception that he is an Asian and fails to recognize his individual competency and capability in line with the American culture of individualism.
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