White supremacists aren’t the only group of people who oppose mixed-race relationships. Writing for the Univision-owned feminist website Jezebel, Aditi Natasha Kini says she’s “tired of watching brown men fall in love with white women onscreen.”
Angered by the appearance of non-white men who get into on-screen romances with white women in TV shows and movies, the Jezebel writer says that she was upset at how brown women in the new film, “The Big Sick,” played second string to their white counterparts.
“I also found myself exhausted, yet again, by the onscreen depiction of a brown man wanting to date a white woman, while brown women are portrayed alternately as caricatures, stereotypes, inconsequential, and/or the butts of a joke,” writes Kini.
The Jezebel writer’s complaints are only half-correct, in that Asian men have regularly been depicted as loveless men who struggle to earn the attention of women, but rarely attain their romantic goals with white women — or anyone else, for that matter.
There is a long history in Hollywood movies and TV shows depicting Asian men, like Kumail Nanjiani, as sexually unappealing or unable to “get the girl.”
Movies like “Fast and Furious 6” broke racial barriers with the on-screen romance of characters played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot and Korean actor Sung Kang. Likewise, the TV show “The Walking Dead” featured a romance between Lauren Cohan and Steven Yeun, which lasted several seasons. “Homeland” is filled with interracial relationships between Arabic men and white women — one of whom radicalizes her partner in a twist of expectations, eventually causing his death.
The Jezebel writer argues that while it’s progress to see Asian men getting the girl for once, and for Asian men to finally be cast in leading roles instead of supporting ones, she claims that the medium centers “white women as the love interest – a concept which, in the complex hierarchy of power and race in America, pays lip-service to the one notion that has shaped the history of South Asian and American culture alike: Whiteness as the ultimate desire, the highest goal in defining oneself as American.”
The argument is an ahistorical view that erases the existence of non-white female leads in movies like the 2002 James Bond movie “Die Another Day,” featuring Halle Berry; the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Eraser,” starring Vanessa Williams; and “The Bodyguard” in 1992, which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.
The comedy-drama series “Ugly Betty,” which starred America Ferrera, had a successful four-year run in the late 2000s. More recently, The Office’s Mindy Kaling, who is of South Asian descent, has her own highly successful comedy TV series called “The Mindy Project.”
The Jezebel writer concludes her argument by saying that interracial relationships depicted on-screen are “classic white liberal nonsense” because these transgressive depictions are fashioned as a “gold standard” for “progress.”