This study seeks to examine the construction of Asian sexuality through the characters featured in three Hollywood romantic comedies: Crazy Rich Asians (2018), To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) and Always be my Maybe (2019). Informed by Hall’s (1995, 1997) works on stereotypes and Berg’s (2002) conceptualization of mediated stereotypes, this study focuses on how existing Asian sexual stereotypes, such as the hypersexualized or submissive Asian women and the asexual and emasculated Asian men, are maintained and challenged. The multimodal analysis that combined Critical Discourse Analysis and Visual Discourse Analysis revealed that traditional Asian sexual stereotypes such as the submissive Asian women or the Dragon Lady continue to exist in the storyline. The portrayals of Asian female characters are generally found to be more stereotypical than those of their male counterparts, with the only significant stereotype being the elevated status of Eurasian males compared to Asian males. At the same time, these movies are also committed to building new narratives about Asian sexuality. Asian females are depicted as independent women who take charge of their sexuality, while Asian males are portrayed as masculine and sexually desirable. The findings the representation of Asian sexuality is evolving in a manner that demands both celebration and caution. It serves as a reminder that while these movies are ground-breaking, they should not be treated as the final victory in the fight for accurate Asian representation, but rather as the beginning of a new era.
Mai Do, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands