For the White Man

In Richard Fung’s “Looking for my Penis,” Fung discusses how the gay porn industry lacks roles and representation of Asian males. He addresses how the dominant culture in the industry favors the Caucasians and how media tends to sway our focus away from the secondary characters and actors, such as Asian actors. “Even in the one sequence of Asian Knights in which the Asian actor fucks the white man, the scenario privileges the pleasure of the white man over that of the Asian.” Fung also states that the works and productions have been sexualized, emasculating the Asian role to make the white man more dominant and more objectified. This suggests that gay Asian males are have limited roles, restricting their representation on film. It can be said the same with the hypersexualized view of Asian women in the media, such as the limited representation of the Dragon Lady or the Lotus Blossom (Fung). In many films, Asian actors are either a supporting actor or blurred into the crowd, seldom are they the leads with all the privilege.

Fung’s research to gay men in the porn industry on the interests of white men resembles closely to the portrayal of Asian men in the media. In Rush Hour, Lee (Jackie Chan) and Carter (Chris Tucker) pursue a male villain, Juntao, who happens to be White using an alias. It is misguiding because the name seemed very “Asian” and influenced many to believe that Sang was the mastermind behind it. But like Fung had suggested, the Asian actor had only the interest of the white man and depicting him as a subordinate and more belittling role than deserved, even though the initial thought was that the villain was Asian, but instead servile to the white man.

Many skills and attributes the Asian actors possess are overlooked by the industries because they tend to focus more on the white male character. As we see Asians in gay porn and Sang in Rush Hour, their contributions and efforts are predominantly utilized to serve the white male. Both are able to exhibit their masculinity in different methods, Sang with the triad perspective, and gay Asian males enjoying sex for his pleasure, but the dynamics of that masculinity are dispersed to support the white male role. Fung sees that “porn can be an active agent in representing and reproducing a sex-race status quo. We cannot attain a healthy alliance without coming to terms with these differences” (Fung). The lack of representations of any group means the reliance on the set stereotypes of the groups, which hinders the growth of the community when people can only relate groups with stereotypes due to their roles being marginalized.

9 thoughts on “For the White Man

  1. we seldom see Asian males as leading characters, even they do , they mainly play as support (for example, in Green Hornet , Jay Chou played a Japanese character who knows martial art and he assists the main character to be a hero while he himself as a hidden support) It is even rare in the porn industry to see Asian male porn stars except in Japanese porn movies. We see a lot of white porn stars having sex with girls from different ethnic background but the same thing did not happen on Asian male porn stars. It seems like whenever audiences see Asian characters, they think of someone who is intelligent, shy and nerdy.

  2. I thought your mentioning of Rush Hour’s villain Juntao was particularly interesting. A quote from James Carter himself in Rush Hour 2: “There’s always a rich white guy waiting for his cut. Follow the rich white guy.” While Rush Hour 2 starred two minority actors as stars, it definitely emphasized the tiger lady (the villainess in the movie), the act of kung foo as a predominately Chinese heritage. I am aware that Jackie Chan actively seeks to debunk how the public views Asians, but the directors might not share that interest.

    I think Fung’s article is also interesting. Talking about porn can be a touchy subject, but talking about gay porn can make people uncomfortable. To mention the roles of Asian Americans in gay porn, well that’s just literally unheard of. Due to Asian men as seen as emasculated, it would seem that putting Asian men in gay porn would almost make the porno *straight*? I can see how this may potentially be a problem. Nevertheless, interesting read.

  3. In Fung’s article “Looking for my penis” he critiques the gay porn industry’s representation of Asian American males. While African American males and caucasian males are always featured as dominant personas, always assuming the position of “top” while the asian american males are always portrayed as submissive, assuming the position of “bottom”. Because the gay porn industry’s primary consumer is a caucasian white male, the production of these films are catered to showcase their viewers in a good light, depicting the caucasian male superior to their partners, so they are viewed as strong, and dominant. This is seen in Espiritu’s article “Ideological Racism: and Cultural Resistance: Constructing Our Own Image” when the author says that Asian American female and male portrayals in media “exist and confirm the white man’s superiority” (88). The pleasure of the white man trumps the pleasures of any other race specifically asian american males in the porn industry. The graphic novel Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory also depicts the disproportionate representation between Asian American Males and Caucasian males. Tony Chu, the protagonist, is an asian american cibopath who gets fired from the Philadelphia Police Department, but then gets hired for the FDA by Mason Savoy, another agent that is also a cibopath. Right here you have a dominant white male (Mason Savoy) depicted and illustrated as menacing, super strong, and brutal compared to Tony Chu, who is scrawny and small. In the end, it shows that Mason Savoy was the one who killed Pepper, and Tony having realized this decides to confront Mason and arrest him for Evan Pepper’s murder. Usually readers would assume justice will be served and Mason will get arrested and sent to prison but this is not the case. When Tony confronts Mason, Mason easily overpowers Tony and rips of his ear threatening Tony that if he tries to hunt down Mason, he will eat his ear and know all his moves and secrets. Once again, this establishes that Mason (a caucasian male) is superior towards Tony (an asian american) and will always be one step ahead of him. Even though Tony was trying to do the right thing, the story favors Mason, the white man in this case the antagonist by illustrating that Tony has little to no chance when fighting against fellow agent Mason Savory.

  4. The readings for this upcoming week seem to highlight a struggle transcending mere misrepresentation of stereotypes and are placed within a battleground of an individual’s psyche. Instead of only stressing the collective conflict in a hegemonic dominated society faced by Asian Americans as a whole, we now take a look into an even smaller constituency within the Asian American population. The contentions faced by Asian Americans regarding the winding polymorphism of confrontation and integration with dominant stereotypes is enhanced when faced by homosexual Asian Americans. In order to determine their identity and place in the world, they must tread whilst opposition presents itself from the dominant, hegemonic culture, subversion and marginalization within the gay community, and risk of ostracism by their own families and friends.
    Some social commentators argue that in the process of establishing a unified and groundbreaking Asian American identity, specifically breaking the stereotype of the duality of Asian male existence as either the hyper-masculine villain or the effeminate closet-case, the identity of homosexual Asian Americans is forsaken and forgotten. This rejection from their own people’s struggle directly shortens the spectrum of their goals and the impacts of the people’s effort. And in doing so, the effects of this subconscious sacrifice preserve another sample of alienation within the psyche of Asian Americans.

  5. When considering pornography, the more specific the demographic is, there exists a narrower range of pornography that represents that demographic. For instance, among all pornography, heterosexual white-on-white is probably the most common variety. This is likely because heterosexual white people are the most populous consumer of pornography in the world. Indeed, it would be unsurprising to see a direct proportionality between the population size of a pornography *viewer* of a certain demographic and the population pool of *producers* (actors, directors, etc.) of pornography that represents the same demographic. So when Fung highlights the absence of Asian men in homosexual pornography, it is because homosexual Asian men are similarly rare.

    Rare, or simply still in the closet.

    In today’s times, more and more people are openly coming out as gay, and similarly, more and more are becoming accepting of differing sexual orientations. However, gay Asians still seem hesitant about coming out. Gay men today have had quite a few role models as of recently (Neil Patrick Harris and Zachary Quinto, to name a few), but gay Asian men in particular are far less numerous. (George Takei is the only one whom I can recall from memory.) This is likely a result of remnants of the stereotyping of Asians from the last century. Asian men are commonly portrayed as sexless, meek, and/or nerdy. But for an Asian man to not only be sexual but homosexual would turn these stereotypes on their heads. Thus, many gay Asian men continue to be secretive about their sexuality. And because of this, they are underrepresented in media including pornography.

    The snowball of acceptance and tolerance has already started rolling. But it will still take time until men and women of all ethnicities and sexual orientations are fully and fairly represented.

  6. Richard Fung aimed to fill the visual void of “looking for his penis” as the article was aptly titled by explaining the desexualization and emasculation of gay Asian American males through examples of gay pornography. Later, Fung states that “finding his penis” was a matter of dollars and cents since the gay porn industry was constructed for their audience. In this case, the American gay porn industry catered to the audience of white males. In one of the films discussed, internationalism was prohibited except for the mixing of white males with a man of color. This depicted a system of white-centerness, which allowed Asian-white mixing.

    Before going into the examples of Asians in gay pornography, Richard Fung takes the time to explain the role of Asian American women in the Hollywood film industry, classified as either the Lotus Blossom Baby or the Dragon Lady. Both of which portrayed passive figures “who exist to serve men”. This is significant when Fung later mentions the character of Robbie who was “becoming Oriental” because he was passive. At the end of that film, the character played by Sum Yung Mahn was also able to find his release only after existing for the pleasure of others. Richard Fung shows that Asian men in the gay pornographic film industry are similar to the portrayal of Asian women in the heterosexual society. They only exist for the pleasure of their superior counterpart.

    Something I also thought tied to the class was the gay porn star’s alias, Sum Yung Mahn or “some young man”. He is just some random adolescent, not of importance. As an Asian American in gay porn, he is always taking the role of the submissive or the role of the bottom. Not only is he desexualized, he is emasculated as well in the since of gender and youth.

  7. It is intersting that Fung’s “Looking for My Penis” focuses specifically on the issue of masculinity among Asian/Asian Americans within the, specifically American, porn industry. He concludes that the majority of Asian/Asian American males that are seen in gay porn movies are servile and emasculated to their White male counterpart. Although I think it is interesting to survey the appearance of gay Asian/Asian American males in a specific subgroup of the entertainment industry, it is also important to realize that producers, directors, etc. are all trying to make money and the largest consumers of gay porn and probably porn overall are White. After doing a little bit of research, I found that conservatives are more likely to spend on porn and adult entertainment. ( Conservatives have also been linked to not accepting the “racially other” and even racism. This suggests that because of the target market, producers, directors, etc. market more toward the White male and portray the White males within the adult films as the dominant ones while the Asian/Asian American males are the submissive, obedient and often fetishized group. This is reminiscent of the long notion of the ‘Oriental gaze’ and ‘Orientalism’ which is the depiction of mostly the Middle East and Asia as a mysterious, hypersexualized, immoral and socially primitive culture. Due to its origins in art and painting and the depiction of nudes and issues of sexuality, the porn industry can be a direct correlation to this with only a difference in technology. I believe that the only way that misrepresentation of ethnic groups will be remedied is if there is a desensitization of seeing Asian/Asian American and those of other ethnic groups on tv and film which can only be acheived by breaking down long established stereotypes or having more directors, producers, etc of these different ethnic group working in the entertainment industry.

  8. Fung’s article, “Look for my penis,” touched on a very delicate subject of the roles of Asian american men in gay porn. When talking about the sexual representation of Asians in media, the porn industry can offer a lot of insight into the matter. If we examine the films and movies with Asian actors that the industry produces, the majority of it portrays a Caucasian actor playing the lead role while Asian actor play the more servile and submissive role. It’s either a dominant Caucasian male with a very submissive Asian female or a white dominatrix with an Asian male. This trend will likely continue since homosexual Asian men are rare because homosexuality is looked down upon in the Asian culture and they tend to stay “in the closet.” Even if they do embrace their homosexuality, not a lot of them will go into the porn industry. I think that the best way to change this image of the sexless Asian man is to make the public aware of this issue since the media will produce what the public wants to see. If there is a demand for more Asians in a dominant role, the media will likely change according to this demand.

  9. Interesting that you brought up Asian male representation in the light of the film industry. “Rush Hour” as you pointed out is an maybe an example of “yellow face”, a racism that puts onto the white role or character, an Asian façade. This alludes to the bias of the dominant culture being the controllers of Asian American popular culture in the way it is portrayed. The film industry being run by the dominant Eurocentric producers show this control by being decision makers in the casting process.
    In Fung’s analysis, he makes the statement, “Creating a space for Asian gay and lesbian representation has meant among other things, deepening an understanding of what is at stake for Asians in coming out publicly”, which really stood out to me. It reminded me of our class reading on “Yankee Dawg You Die” by Gotanda. In the scene where Vincent is made subtle in his character as being gay, Gotanda demonstrates what Fung articulates in the subject of male-gendered objectivity and subjectivity. In essence, I think that Fung and Gotanda both agree on the topic of double marginalization for gay Asian American male actors.

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