So far, 2021 has been a year, with a capital “y”. However, despite that, we have seen something beautiful blooming in film and media lately. There has been a large increase in blockbuster high budget films with Asian leads and Asian-centric casts.
Just this year alone, many films including “Mulan,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings,” “Snake Eyes” and “The Wish Dragon” have all been a part of the mainstream media circulation.
A couple years prior we saw more Asian-led hit films like “Parasite,” “Minari” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” There has been a rise of more mainstream box office hit films with Asian leading men and women in important roles in front of and behind the camera.
Coupled with the huge rise in popularity of K-Pop and K-Dramas, it seems that the world has finally started to take notice of minorities in the spotlight. Not only that, but we have allowed them to be themselves and show their culture in a way never seen in mainstream American media.
For example, the recent release of “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings” had the characters speaking in their native language for many parts of the film. These movies are finally beginning to feel like they are made by Asians for Asians.
They, of course, have always had their niche in martial arts, anime and Asia-produced films, but it seems they have finally managed to break into the mainstream with something other than karate movies. This has moved Asian actors and directors into their well-earned spot among the rest of media’s big names.
It would be remiss to mention all of this without also bringing up the increase in crimes against Asian Americans in the past year. This may have a correlation with the rise of visible Asian American leads. It may also be due to other factors like the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement bringing light to and thus increasing the focus on Asian-centric violence.
Either way, this rise in representation in the mainstream media can only be a benefit in sharing and educating more people on Asian American culture and helping to normalize things that may have been seen as strange only a few years ago.
This will also hopefully help boost awareness of these issues and the confidence of Asian Americans everywhere by showing them that they are being seen and they are just as much a part of popular culture as anyone else. Because of that, I would like to challenge the reader to go watch an Asian-produced film and gain some perspective on an issue plaguing many today. Think of what you liked and did not like. Just add to the conversation.