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Pet Sins November 2004

More brown/yellow women than brown/yellow men in media images?

From observation alone, it seems there are many more images of yellow/brown women than yellow-brown men in Western print and film media. For example, 2 Fast 2 Furious, as well as many other movies, pairs a brown-skinned Latina and a white man, but there are few, if any major movies pairing brown men with white women. I believe the article Are Latinos and Latinas treated equally by Anglo America? describes this gender inbalance.

When we see a picture of a group of people which includes a yellow or brown (Asian or Latino) person, the yellow/brown individual is usually female. Here are some examples from diverse sources:

1) Image from a 2003 Eddie Bauer ad:

2) Image from a 2003 Match.com ad:

3) Image from Bank of America mortgage web page (seen in 2002, 2003): yellow woman flanked by white woman and white man.

4) Image from ATT web site in the year 2003: Black man, black woman, Caucasoid woman, Mongoloid woman.

5) A 2003 teeth whitening ad: yellow woman, white women, 2 white men.

In the above examples, the Asian woman has a prominent spot, but the Asian male is absent while men and women of other races are present.

Sure there are some exceptions, such as this image from a 2003 ad from Blue Ocean Software:

This is perhaps there are more yellow men than yellow women in the high tech industry?

Here is yet one more very telling example from a 2004 Reebok ad:

Ask yourself:

Why is it a white cowboy- Japanese woman combo? Why not picture a white cowboy and a male samurai? Why not a white cowgirl and Japanese woman? How about a white cowgirl pictured together with a samurai? Perhaps we can show a black cowboy with a Japanese woman? (It is known that 1 out of 7 cowboys in the old West were black.) Or a Mexican cowboy side by side with a Japanese man?

This is such a typical white male way of thinking - the West is "masculine" and the East is "feminine", and there assumptions and stereotypes reflect themselves in advertising. And maybe white men would be alienated to see a black man with a Japanese woman presented side by side and not feel inclined to buy the product?

A recent manifestation of the ubiquitous white male-yellow female couple is the Harry Potter and Cho Chanh pairing in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter, the selfless, noble hero who is being marketed as a worthy role model to children all over the world, shows his white-male open-mindedness by dating Cho Chanh, a yellow female. Cho Chanh's previous boyfriend before Potter was also an Anglo male. Yellow boys have no place among the romantic couples of the Harry Potter universe. The popularity of the Harry Potter series and the marketing blitz that accompanies each book release and movie only serves to reinforce the "white male/yellow female combo is cool, right, and desirable" in the absence of equally supportive messages about other interracial couples.


Comment from 'N.H.'
I share the observation that the choice of a yellow girl to be Harry's girlfriend is the most financially astute choice as it is less likely to alienate the mainstream audience than the choice of a black girl or brown girl.In real life, the most popular choice for a non-white partner of a white man in the UK or US is usually a yellow person.

The Harry Potter series certainly plays it safe by portraying the hero as an 'open-minded white male who dates interracially' - a popular and politically correct attribute for a white hero nowadays - while staying within the confines of British/American mainstream social approval.

I notice that the Harry Potter movies in general tend to have many faces of brown and yellow girls filling the background, far outnumbering their male counterparts. For black faces, the gender ratio does not seem to be too skewed at first glance, but brown Asian Indian girls definitely outnumber the Asian Indian boys. For yellow people, the ratio is even more skewed. I think there was probably about 2 yellow boys featured for a few seconds between all the Harry Potter movies to date. Yellow females figure more prominently among the extras.

Dec 05

Comment from 'E.R.'
It seems almost 'taboo' for Hollywood to show yellow men/boys in romantic situations. I was watching the Countdown to the Oscars 2006, in which they ran a montage of images from 5 romantic movies nominated for the Oscars - Transamerica, Brokeback Mountain, New World, Memoirs of a Geisha and King Kong.

As the images from the five different films alternated across the screen, we got to see a few shots from each movie. For each movie, most of the scenes chosen for the montage featured the romantic couple.

The notable exception was Memoirs of a Geisha, which showed mostly scenes of Zhang Ziyi alone. A strange thing, if romance is supposed to be the theme. Ken Watanabe only appeared once, and only briefly. This did not happen with the other films, which had white males, a Native American male, and a Gorilla as the male romantic figure.

This may or may not have been done consciously. But it says something about the subconscious attitudes that 'mainstream' America carries towards Asian men and women.

Mar 06