Colorless TV, at least for Asian Americans

May 4, 2005

The study looked at gender, the occupations characters and their relationships and whether an actor was a multiracial Asian or wholly Asian. Researchers examined seven weeks of network prime-time television and found that only 2.7 percent of the characters were Asian American (compared to 5 percent of the U.S. population).

CBS was found to have no Asian American characters on its prime-time shows. When there were Asian Americans, they were usually suborninate roles and rarely the main character.

There have been some efforts by various groups to push the networks to be more inclusive, but they've had little effect. What more can you do? Anybody have any solutions? Help?!?!


Harry Mok

Editor in chief

Editor in Chief Harry Mok wrote about growing up on a Chinese vegetable farm for the second issue of Hyphen and has been a volunteer editor since 2004. As a board member of the San Francisco and New York chapters of the Asian American Journalists Association, Harry has recruited and organized events for student members. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also a graduate student instructor in the Asian American Studies Department.



My 30 second brainstorm:1). Start putting your kids into theater classes.2). Support local Asian American Theater.3) Form a powerful, angry lobby group that organizes boycotts of sponsors and stages large demonstrations or at least headline-grabbing stunts (pies in studio heads faces, etc) to demand more Asian roles.4). Support independent AA films.5). Make an independent AA film.But how feasible is any of this? will it work? I don't know.
Although supporting Asian American films & theater is great, we need more Asian Americans in mainstream media as well! I mean, we're just as cool or dorky as any one else, and that needs to be portrayed (in a non-stereotypical way) to the rest of the world. It would be great to have a cool character on a sitcom who just happens to be Asian American (and not a nerd, martial arts expert, gang member, sex kitten, or dragon lady).
Thanks for the article. For-profit television is the most influential media in the U.S. today, no doubt, and the effects of TV representation (or lack thereof) are no joke.I think the solution is to have more Asian Americans in the television industry--from writers to producers to advertisers to corporate bigwigs who control the cash. That's where the decisions ultimately get made about who and what gets on the small screen.