Image source: Everett Collection
Issa Rae faced a major backlash two years ago, suggesting that black women only date Asian men, and satirically citing stereotypes as reasons for the need to unite these demographically unfortunate populations. It was supposed to be a joke, but like anything else the Internet gets its hands on, it was blown up disproportionately, leading to a PR nightmare for the normally unproblematic star. After covering up the haters, she brought this romantic pairing to the fore in both HBOs Unsure and Netflix film The Lovebirds – and it is not the only one that prioritizes this representation.
Historically, Asian relationships (which in this article refer to people who identify themselves as East Asian, Southeast Asian, or South Asian), relationships between men and black women (AMBW) in popular films and on TV are incredibly rare. The cause is twofold: First, films with a black lead easily fall into the trap of becoming a "black film" that is often not as culturally distributed as mainstream films. Secondly, the archaic, trope-laden film depictions of black women and Asian men did not exactly exude romantic potential. So when asked if you want to name some titles with AMBW pairings, it would not be a shock for most to push for answers.
Filmgoers could call the 1997 remake Cinderella, a television film that reinterpreted Cinderella (Brandy) and Prince Charming (Paolo Montalbán) as an AMBW couple, decades before the legendary characters of the race came into fashion. Romeo has to die (2000) with the singers Aaliyah and Jet Li (below) and Fakin & # 39; da funk 1997 romance between Tatyana Ali and Dante Basco, are two others who land a place on the AMBW film list. It's also worth noting that it can be difficult for men of full Asian descent to be occupied at all. They are often overlooked in favor of semi-white actors, confirming the stereotype that Asian men are not male enough to be seen as the main actors.
Image source: Everett Collection
These films were led by color creators who tried to add nuance and depth to their different characters. A targeted attention to the characterization of non-white roles is not always self-evident, which is shown by the exaggerated and then redone tropics of the spicy Latina, the loud, chaotic black friend or the non-threatening Asian genius. Neither the mother, Jezebel nor the voodoo mother evoke sexual chemistry with the nerd, the martial arts master or the awkward foreigner with a strong accent. In order to achieve a viable and therefore credible representation of an Asian man, a black woman, the relationships between the individual characters had to be redefined before they could be presented as an object.
But in the real world, these damaging tropes, which are dramatized versions of racial cartoons, don't hinder AMBW dating – in a way, they actually stir it up. Both black women and Asian men are statistically the least romantic of those with racist dating preferences in their respective gender categories, and Eurocentric ideals of beauty and gender are to blame. Beauty standards are constantly changing in the United States, but the basic principles of who is attractive and who is not have remained relatively unchanged.
"As the two populations facing the worst romantic prejudices, a subculture has emerged in which the two communities join together to promote cultural exchange and love without fear of unfounded judgment."
It is traditionally revered for women to be quiet and reserved with delicate features. No wonder the stereotype of the loud, untamed black woman with more pronounced physical characteristics is the exact opposite. Asian men, on the other hand, are ostracized as too female in dating circles because America's ideal man is extroverted and physically dominant. As the two populations facing the worst romantic prejudices, a subculture has emerged in which the two communities come together to promote cultural exchange and love without fear of unfounded judgment.
Vice Columnist Zachary Schwartz delved deeply into this scene and described how cultures, stereotypes and romance mix. Schwartz, who was half Taiwanese, had experienced the problems of dating as an Asian himself and mentioned that he was always the sweet one with pinchable cheeks, never the hot friend. Granted, the AMBW community suffers from its own bouts of racial prejudice and fetishization, but Schwartz claims that the constant mixing of two undervalued cultures can "demystify cultural differences by forcing two sides to understand each other (and) the world repair".
The strength of this niche community is justified with a large number of Facebook groups, personal mixers and a few blogs dedicated to AMBW love. And in recent years, their on-screen presence has gradually mirrored their off-screen success. While there isn't a fully exhaustive list, it does show the apparent upswing in popular films and series that represent AMBW relationships in the late 2010s. 2018, however, seems to mark a turning point.
Since then, Netflix & # 39; crime novel rom-com, The Lovebirds (with Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae), Hulu Four weddings and a funeral, The sun is also a starand the latest Space forceshave woven all of the well-represented AMBW relationships into integral storylines. Netflix Space forces In episode 6, a segment was even added that highlights the relationships between AMBW (referred to as BWAM there). The character Dr. Kaifang said, "We are statistically the least likely to mate among American couples, but we have the highest marriage." Prices. So when we find each other, it's actually … wonderful. "
Image source: HBO
Let's go back to Rae, who now has two projects highlighting AMBW relationships. It emphasizes the spread of interracial relationships that do not consist of a white person who is associated with a colored person. Relationships are a valuable tool for filmmakers to portray the microcosm of community clashes. The interracial relationship between white minorities was most strongly represented on the screen and triggered important discussions about privileges and social position. But there are so many other racial and cultural dynamics between color communities that have not yet been thoroughly analyzed in the media to take full advantage of the art form's ability to fuel social commentary.
in the Unsure The fourth season, a dispute between Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Andrew (Alexander Hodge), the main couple of the fourth season, analyzed how black and Asian individuals experience different forms of racism and what prejudices certain color communities have against others. This argument reflected one of Schwartz’s' encounters with a conflict in a Facebook group initiated by an Asian member who criticized black culture. By expanding the boundaries of the interracial relationship on television Unsure brought to light part of the social interaction that is rarely shared on the screen.
Film and television are important resources not only to reflect and uncover the range of human experiences, but also to make the viewer perceive something as normal or ordinary and to make the medium more integrative. As more and more AMBW couples appear in the film, the real community will appear more normal and common until it is no longer a subculture of the dating world, but only dating.