Part two of Asian American Disney: Princes
Donnie Chang, Rachelle Johnson, and Kim Navoa
11” x 17” Inkjet Prints
Check out what our princes had to say about growing up Asian American, representation, and masculinity:
“Being a man to me means stepping up into being a good older brother. I try to help my mom out as much as possible when my father isn’t home. I try to ease the stress of my parents. Being a man also means fulfilling my own dreams.”
“The aspects of Asian American males in media that I find most troubling are the high expectations and being good at certain things and upholding family honor. That model minority myth where you’re just that ideal citizen. At the same time, it’s really difficult having to live up to those expectations and setting that example for my siblings. It was difficult to balance everything with society and the heavy expectations that my family set for me. I had trouble doing the right thing as far as my family goes. If it wasn’t necessarily accepted by society, I prioritized more of what my family wanted me to be.”
“I recently watched a video about how the 3 worst words you could tell your son is to “be a man”. What it means to me and how I’ve seen it portrayed is being aggressive or being able to stop showing emotions - being able to get over it and do what you have to do. There’s an aggressive connotation behind it that I don’t agree with. It desensitizes the difference between genders. I identify more with being an adult or being mature and responsible. You need to be able to think for yourself and make the right decisions. Expressing positive traits without letting negative traits bog you down.”
“I feel that it’s problematic and troubling when every character is the same. I think of the character that Dr. Ken Jeong plays. He’s the exact same person in every movie or television show he’s in, but that’s really the intricacy of his acting ability and the kind of person he wants to portray, however mainstream media and a lot of Hollywood is unable to comprehend that and they take and reproduce his character into an Asian American stereotype so we see a lot of crazy, little, sexless Asian American males doing really crazy stuff as part of the “Hangover” scene, and I just simply disagree with that. “
“I am a gay Asian American male and I’m proud to be part of the LGBTQ community. But my biggest problem is that they always view gay Asian American males as “bottoms”, in other terms they define us as feminine and demure and receptive. It should be stopped because really does scare a lot of people away from being open about their sexuality because they’re going to encounter “you can’t be masculine because you’re Asian.””
Check out Part 1 of the series, Asian American Disney Princesses, here!
This project was funded by an Asian American Studies Expo Grant to support undergraduate research. It is part of the UIC AANAPISI Initiative supporting the recruitment, retention, and graduation of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and English language learner students at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education¹s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions Program.