WGA West’s Asian American Writers Committee calls on Hollywood to do its part to end stereotypes about Asian Americans in the Pacific Islands (AAPI) that have contributed to an alarming increase in hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We call on all members of the film industry to champion the representation of AAPI by supporting and promoting Asian creations, both above and below the line,” the committee said in a statement. communicated. “We ask producers, directors and writers to choose our actors to play characters of all types – we can just as easily fix a car as we can treat a heart attack, and we can just as easily fail a test as we can pass a . We call on members of the general public to support programming created by and featuring AAPI artists and to hold production companies and creators accountable for their portrayal of AAPI on screen.
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Citing the industry’s long history of degrading characterizations, the committee said, “Instead of celebrating our communities, Hollywood has often perpetuated negative stereotypes about Asian Americans that exacerbate racist and anti-AAPI sentiment: constant representations of us as terrorists and criminals; the mockery of our accents, our food and our clothes; representations of us as dirty, backward, savage (and in need of white “saviors”); whitewashing of our stories; and the refusal to let us write the stories of our own people. These representations have created false narratives about who we are and our role as American citizens. These actions have damaged our careers and our sense of belonging. We have noticed that despite the outrage within our community, there is little consequence to presenting racist representations of AAPI in movies and on television.
The committee said that “recent trends towards presenting more authentic AAPI-focused stories and productions, led by and featuring members of the AAPI community, provide essential validation and recognition,” but noted that “we’re a long way from having true representation on screen and behind the scenes.”
“As big movie studios continue to hire white creators to tell AAPI stories, and prominent white actors continue to be chosen (and accept) roles as leaders of the ‘AAPI, we will continue to be viewed as “inferior” to our white counterparts, “the committee said. “Until Hollywood decides that portraying AAPI is important in creating authentic stories, we will continue to miss opportunities to portray the magnificent and messy complexity of real-life AAPI experiences.
“We may not be able to reverse the racist policies that have prevented AAPI from immigrating to this country, prevented us from buying property, or forced us into internment camps, but we can start.” to rewrite the narrative to honor our role in American history. “
Many reports published on the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans attribute it to former President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments on the origins of the coronavirus.
“Since Covid-19 began ravaging the world a year ago, a worrying increase in violence against Asian Americans across the United States has remained largely overlooked,” the committee said. “As inhabitants of the Pacific Islands of Asia and America, we speak out against this tendency to scapegoat and harass our community. As members of the Asian American Writers Committee of the WGA, we are aware of the power of history and the myriad of ways that narratives about AAPI have diminished and harmed our communities, especially our elders. and immigrant families. The historic mistreatment of Asian immigrants and their descendants has paved the way for today’s violence. From the implementation of the Chinese exclusion law of 1882, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the enactment of the “ Muslim ban ” in 2017 and the proliferation of racist rhetoric around the “ Chinese virus ”, our communities have been targets of demonization and hate crimes.
“While the Hollywood portrayals of the AAPI are not the only cause of the increase in hate crimes against our community, they are a critical factor in shaping these opinions and can be used to turn the tide. Although AAPI resides in both highly populated and remote areas of the country, many Americans still rely on film and television to keep them informed about our diverse communities. The use of flattening stereotypes such as the low-profile model minority, often used as a wedge to further marginalize other non-white groups, are the types of representations that incorrectly influence public opinion of the Asian American population. For this reason, staying away and remaining silent is no longer an option. We need our Hollywood community by our side to stem the racist choices that contribute to this hatred and violence.
The Directors Guild on Monday released its own statement on the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, saying it “strongly condemns the rise in hate crimes, racial harassment and discrimination against Americans of Asian origin since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no place in our society for these heinous acts fueled by inflammatory rhetoric, scapegoats and unfair stereotypes against people of Asian descent.