About BMC 277: Media and Diversity

This course asks students to critically examine the role of the media in facilitating and challenging the social constructions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in U.S. culture.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yellow Fever

By Kit Yi Ng



The question this video clip from Why Asian Guys Can't Get White Girls, centers on why it is more common to see white guys dating Asian women than Asian guys dating White women is explored. While, explicitly, it attempts to clear up some stereotypes of Asian guys, there are, implicit deeply rooted ideologies presented.

The video clip is divided into four scenes. In the first scence, Philip chats with his Chinese friend to talk about the phenomenon of "yellow fever". In the second one, Philip tries to find out the reasons behind "yellow fever" and how can be more attractive to girls. Later on, in the third scene, Philip carries on to find ways improving himself to be more sexually attractive by asking a white guy for advice. In the last scene, Philip's Indian friend tells him that love should not be a matter of race.

Firstly, as the clip starts with the conversation between two Chinese, the main actor, Philip, asks his friend why white guys are taking all the Asian girls away, using the phrase "yellow fever" to describe this phenomenon. Philip continues to complain that, because he is not welcomed by White girls, he is left with little opportunity. The Chinese words on Philip's shirt mean "White people cannot understand".

To understand “yellow fever,” Philip asks his Chinese friend, Chris, who tells Philip that the reason is because White guys have more hair and nicer butts. He says that these two features are very attractive to Asian girls. Clearly, his opinions are based on social constructions of images of white and Asian guys.

After listening to Chris's opinions, Philip asks the hot White guy for advice. The White guy teaches Philip how to catch girls' attention and his skill is saying "ni hao ma" to Chinese girls. Philip does the same, in a poor accent, but fails to attract the White woman’s attention. The White man here is clearly superior. No matter what the White guy does, he is more attractive than Philip to girls. When Philip does the same thing, he only looks silly. For example, he tries to gain the attention of a white girl by giving her some signals. However, the white girl ignores him. He never gains girls' attention, and his attempts are humorous. Moreover, Philip was not satisfied with opinions from his Chinese friend, Chris. Instead, he turns to a white guy for more authoritative answers.

In the last scene, Philip talks to Richard, who is Indian. Richard tells him that the only thing which matters is his personalities other than physical attributes. While, at the end, love is shown to be “race-less,” the ideological message, and source of humor, found throughout the rest of the video cannot be negated.

Edward Said (1979) noted that the West is often depicted as developed and superior while the East is portrayed as undeveloped, mysterious and inferior. Said noted also orientalist romanticism in West synchronized White men’s heterosexual desire for Oriental women. In this video clip, the main Chinese actor, Philip, fails to catch girl's attention but the White guy does it without any difficulties, thereby emasculating Philip, and essentially objectifying Asian women. Despite the message of the last scene, the video clip delivers an implicit message that race does a matter.

References
Said, Edward, Orientalism (Vintage Books: New York, 1979).

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