The takeaway: Asian and Pacific Islander representation still has a long way to go.
API characters are more likely to be laughed at than with
Of the top movies from the past decade, solo circa 4.5% of leading characters and 5.6% of supporting characters were Asians or Pacific Islanders, despite that group making up about 7% of the overall US population, secondo il rapporto.
In the rare instances where Asians and Pacific Islanders were featured in leading roles, they were often subject to tired tropes and stereotypes. About one-third of films with Asian and Pacific Islander lead characters employed tropes like the “model minority,” “martial artist,” “perpetual foreigner” o “dragon lady,” afferma il rapporto.
Asian and Pacific Islander characters are also more likely to be the punchline than they are the person making the joke, the authors observed. Di 23% of API characters were people audiences could laugh with, while about 43% were characters audiences were expected to laugh at.
“They were much less often depicted as funny,” Di Nonno told CNN. “They were more in that model minority [trope] of being hard working and rigid and smart.”
Few films get specific about Pacific Islanders
Researchers also delved into some of the nuances of Asian and Pacific Islander identity
, a label that encompasses
più di 30 countries and ethnic groups that speak more than
100 lingue differenti.
The identities of East Asian characters were central to the story about half of the time, they found. But when it came to Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, their identities were central in only about 12% of instances.
“This shows a healthy balance of East Asian storytelling,” the researchers wrote. “tuttavia, this was much less balanced for other Asian ethnic groups, suggesting that actors from these backgrounds are much more likely to be cast in roles that aren’t written specifically for a character of their ethnicity, or that other ethnic groups’ stories are less likely to be written for film.”
To change the ways that Asians and Pacific Islanders are depicted in Hollywood, it’s important for them to be represented not only on screen but also behind the scenes, Di Nonno said. It’s why researchers also surveyed Asians and Pacific Islanders across the entertainment industry about their experiences at work and the kinds of portrayals they wanted to see.
“Storytellers write what they know or what they love,” Di Nonno said. “Being able to build a pipeline of diverse API representation will dramatically improve how these portrayals play out on screen and how we can augment and get more authentic stories.”