Yellowface – Asians in Hollywood

Via Indigo Willing over on Twitter, For those of you who teach race and ethnicity, this article is a must-read and bookmark on representations and casting of Asians in movies and television throughout the 20th century until now.

Yellowface, at its core, is not only the practice of applying prostheses or paint to simulate a crude idea of what “Asians” look like; it is non-Asian bodies (usually white) controlling what it means to be Asian on screen and stage, particularly in lead/major roles.

Tied to blackface and the portrayal of African Americans on the stage by whites in the nineteenth century, the term yellowface appears as early as the 1950s to describe the continuation in film of having white actors playing major Asian and Asian American roles and the grouping together of all makeup technologies used to make one look “Asian.”

Thanks to the power of film executives in casting, Asian and Asian Americans who had decades of theatrical experience in vaudeville were unable to find work or were relegated to stereotypical roles–laundrymen, prostitutes, or servants.

– Krystyn R. Moon
Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850-1920s (page 164)

The yellowface controversy is not about the quality of the films or performances. It is about systematic bias in casting as much as it is about individual choices made by directors, performers, and production companies.”

The article has a lot of photos and illustrations. It is a great resource.

And I am sure the same kind of analysis could be replicated with Native Americans and Latinos.

Some Interesting Stuff About This Blog

Via Historiann, yet again. First, I’m a guy, apparently:

Ooookay… is it because I don’t do mommy / kids / kitty / knitting blogging??

Next, something of which I should be proud:

My blog is worth $24,839.76 .
How much is your blog worth?

Needless to say, I’m not quitting my day job.

And last but not least, what parts of the brain does writing this blog involve?

I am shocked to discover I lack in spirituality and other related traits.

And this is where I scream SEXISM regarding these tests. I see: because I write with a more analytical mind rather than using emotions and spirituality, then, of course, I’m a guy (and a cheap one too, apparently). And you know, what test-making genius? At least I know how to spell rhythm!

Why Blog? A Sociological Perspective

Over at his blog, Denis Colombi has an interesting post on reasons for blogging, with a sociological twist. It’s in French, so, if you’re francophone (why isn’t everyone?), head over there for the whole post. Otherwise, here is the English digest version, and the points I thought were the most important. Denis breaks down the various reasons for blogging into different categories:

Personal Reasons

Bloggers blog because they like to write and share their opinions. And doing so via blogging is a faster way of sharing said opinions with a larger public than the limited audience of a typical sociologist writing for a peer-reviewed publication (that would not be interested in opinions anyway). Moreover, there is a low threshold to blogging. Blogging also pushes one to keep up with the field (especially for those of us who do not do research but teach a lot). We, socbloggers, read a lot and share our reading and submit ourselves to societal and peer judgment and we can get feedback fairly rapidly. And areas where we lack knowledge can be pointed out to us, prompting further investigation on our part.

Social Motivations

Blogging is a form of social action, understood as in Max Weber’s typology. Blogging – as a form of public sociology – is directed at others in a variety of ways that Colombi delineates. All of us socbloggers think that sociology has an important perspective to provide on social issues and we’d like to see that more prominently displayed in a way that valorize the discipline. Blogging is one small way of doing that. Blogging is an extension of teaching beyond the classroom.

Back to Weber’s typology of actions

Affective action: does socblogging fall into that category? Yes, most definitely since most of us blog about things we care about. Colombi states that he started blogging with the events of the 2005 riots because of their deplorable media coverage. The media and politicians displayed nothing but contempt for scientific analysis and existing research, when they did not blame them for the riots.

Traditional action: Colombi is stumped on that one. And there is indeed a good case to be made that since blogging uses new technologies, Web2.0 stuff, it does not refer back to traditional action. However, those of us who blog about social affairs (as opposed to academia), especially if we treat socblogging as a form of vulgarization/valorization: bringing the questioning of taken-for-granted categories outside of the ivory tower, into the public sphere. With this, moving right along to…

Goal-Oriented Rational action: now we’re back in business. Our goal is definitely to promote public sociology and we have chosen blogging as a tool to do just that. Make sociology visible, show its relevance and analytical rigor. There are other ways of doing this, of course: write op-ed pieces or books, build websites (hint hint) or any other way to contribute to the public discourse (although we already know that we’re getting beat by economists and psychologists on that front).

Value-Oriented Rational action: this goes back to Weber’s definition of the scientific ethos, characterized by objectivity, the search for truth and explanations, independence, etc. Blogging fits into that category as a disinterested act, done for its own merits and independent (we’re not getting paid), and geared towards the general interest. In this sense, it is not a big surprise to find that a lot of (natural and social) scientists are also bloggers.

Social Capital

Bring in Bourdieu and the concept of social capital: we link to each other, we increase our networks and connections beyond borders, we criticize each other. In other words, we increase each other’s social capital. It remains to be seen if we can convert and use said capital in other fields and generate other forms of capitals, but there is definitely something there. Networking is indeed one of the most satisfactory part of blogging.

Colombi also associates social capital with Mark Granovetter‘s idea of strength of weak ties. Blogrolls and connections through blogging certainly qualify as weak ties. Growing and maintaining a lot of weak ties within one’s network is certainly a major activity for socbloggers, governed by norms of reciprocity.

Speaking of social capital and reciprocity, I guess, because we’re talking weak ties, I’m not going to be miffed to NOT have been tagged for this meme!

Global Sociology Blogroll – French Edition

[Update: I fixed a couple of links that did not work. Everything should link where it is supposed to now.]

After much pokin’ around the Intertoobz, here are my latest (French) additions to the Global Sociology Blogroll:

All these blogs are in French.

Calling All Global Sociology Bloggers

I have had the privilege of having my blog linked to by some great bloggers in other parts of the world, some who blog in English and some who do not. I would love to have more non-US sociology bloggers in my blogroll, so, please, if anyone knows non-US socbloggers who blog about issues of interest to the general public and that might show the relevance of the sociological perspective, please, leave their URL in the comments. The more the merrier.

Here are the non-US bloggers I have so far (it’s not enough! I need more!):

Branching Out Further

Charles Lemos , proprietor and author of the great blog, By The Fault , has asked me to contribute there and I was happy to accept. Charles and I share the same interest in global affairs, social justice and progressive politics.

We both strongly believe in the education of girls and the empowerment of women to deal with the most pressing issues of today, starting with gender issues.

And like him, I have nothing really good to think or say about Senator Obama. I am still an enthusiastic supporter of Senator Clinton, for her fighting spirit and her concern for the disadvantaged. But this is not what I will blog the most about.

Cleaning Up the Political Blogs Bookmarks

Not that anyone cares, but here is the list of blogs I will no longer read (or stopped reading already), no links, and in no particular order:

  • Atrios
  • Daily Kos
  • The Carpetbagger Report
  • Political Animal (except for cat blogging)
  • Obsidian Wings
  • TBogg (I’ll just drop by on Thursday night for the bassets pix)
  • AmericaBlog
  • TPM and associated sites
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money
  • Balloon Juice
  • Bard DeLong

I stopped watching cable news weeks ago.

Blogs I can still read as long as I avoid the comments:

The great discoveries of this primary season

Still Great

And everyone else on my blogroll.