Oh you do martial arts? You must be Asian then


Racial stereotyping has been an on going theme. It involves the mental images that society holds about other cultures and one’s own culture. Stereotyping creates barriers for cultures and allows them to be only seen in one light. As our assumption towards other cultures are so rigid ‘we tend to ignore or discard any information that is not consistent with the stereotype’ and this is further emphasised within Hollywood films (University counselling centre, 2008).

In the YouTube clip when looking at the Neimoidians from Star Wars the comment made; “what else do they look like? The slanted eyes and imperial hats… I’m surprised they didn’t have them eating dogs” emphasises the stereotyping of Asian cultures within Hollywood films.

Why is it only those of oriental appearance can do martial arts?

We draw these automatic assumptions because of how certain minorities are represented in the media. As mentioned before in Hollywood movies, the characters that showcase martial art skills or ‘mathematical brilliance’ are usually of Asian appearance. However they are not the only ones being stereotypically represented. In movies when a character is classified as a ‘gangster’ they are usually ‘black’ or those from a African American background are assumed that their characters like rap music, are part of a gang or have to represent a ‘bad-ass’ look. This automatic assumption is demonstrated in the movie ‘Get Hard’ where Will Ferrell’s character assumes that Kevin Hart’s character can help him prepare for jail because after all he is ‘black’. This is also pointed out in ‘The Traditional Feminist;

“Let’s also not try to “decriminalize being black” by “criminalizing being white.” In other words, it’s disgusting that our nation prejudges black and Latino people as criminals and essentially sends them from high school to prison, but starting a rumour that all white people are racist, manipulative, and materialistic doesn’t help either. I’m always baffled when my students ask me, a white person, if I drive a Mercedes or have ever experienced pain in my life. It’s absurd how we all fall victim to stereotypes and stereotyping” (The Traditional Feminist, 2015).


Categorising races into various stereotypes just continues to influence the gap between cultures. We must acknowledge that yes, cultures do have different values and beliefs from other cultures, but we should not just subject these values to only those who are originally from that culture. The whole point of multiculturalism is to accept and understand various cultures and not believe that your culture is superior to another.


University counselling centre, 2008, Overcoming stereotypes, University of Notre Dame, viewed on 6 May 2015, http://ucc.nd.edu/self-help/multicultural-awareness/overcoming-stereotypes/

The Traditional Feminist, 2015, “Get Hard” perpetuates the stereotypes rather than deconstructs them, viewed on 6 May 2015, http://www.chicagonow.com/traditional-feminist/2015/03/get-hard-perpetuates-the-stereotypes-rather-than-deconstructs-them/


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