These days, it’s hard to discuss entertainment without talking about representation. As society becomes more aware and accepting of different groups, media shifts to show these groups in different ways.
However, while much attention is being paid to marginalized people like those in the LGBTQ community, racial representation is still a meaningful discussion. Unfortunately, although black people are starting to see their numbers rising, other ethnic groups like Asians are still pretty far behind.
Asian actors are also not just limited to mainstream media. Adult entertainment is also still fighting for equal representation, with actresses like Vina Sky at SexLikeReal leading the charge. So, let’s dive into this problem, how it’s evolved over the years, and how pioneering studios and content creators can help fix it.
A Brief History of Asian Representation in Hollywood and Beyond
During the 1800s, the United States saw a massive influx of Asian immigrants, primarily thanks to the Opium Wars being waged between Great Britain and China. Although these immigrants proved to be a valuable resource for various infrastructure projects (i.e., the transcontinental railroad), they were widely scrutinized.
For many years, Asian people were vilified in mainstream media, with outlets warning of the “yellow peril.” Chinese men were vicious drug addicts, and Asian women were sexy succubi who lured men to their destruction.
As films became mainstream, these anti-Asian sentiments still crept through. It certainly didn’t help that the US was at war with Japan during World War II. Because Asians were technically the enemy, media outlets painted them as vicious animals, not fellow human beings.
The Korean and Vietnam Wars also furthered these sentiments in films and beyond. After all, it’s hard to show Asians as well-rounded individuals before asking your fellow citizens to fight and kill them by the thousands.
So, for many, many decades, Asian representation was sorely lacking, and even those characters that did appear were often exaggerated. Prominent actors like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan tried to break down barriers and illustrate the value of Asian actors, but they only further perpetuated another stereotype – the martial arts master.
Asian Representation in Modern Times
You’d think we’ve come a long way since the exploitation films of the 1970s and 80s. However, the stats today are just as troubling as in decades past. Currently, Asian characters account for less than six percent of speaking roles in films and television. That number drops to four percent for leads and co-leads. Despite Hollywood committing to diversity both behind and in front of the camera, it seems like we still have a long way to go.
Another roadblock is getting outside the mindset of Asian=Chinese. Many people assume that “true” Asians are those from China or Southeast Asia (i.e., Thailand, Laos, Cambodia). However, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are also part of the continent, although these countries have noticeably different cultures and ethnicities.
When you add Pacific Islanders to the mix, these representation stats look even worse. Unfortunately, Hollywood typically says that one Asian person is enough, and most of the time, Asian still equals Chinese.
Asian Representation in Adult Entertainment
If Hollywood struggles to bring more Asians into the fold, the adult entertainment industry is even further behind. Nevertheless, race play is still a considerable part of pornography, especially because viewers love to see it play out on screen.
Many Asian actresses struggle to be seen as equal to their female counterparts, but they’re often treated as fetish objects, not people. Thankfully, sites like SexLikeReal are doing their part to remove the stigma and bring equality.
When it comes to equity in porn, Asian stars should be in the same kinds of clips as non-Asians. So, instead of focusing solely on their ethnicity, videos should focus on how hot they are. Fortunately, stars like Vina Sky are showing everyone else how it’s done.