Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The Asian American Experience
Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
So many people have helped make this book possible, but my deepest thanks go to my husband Mark and my boys, Kenzo and Takeo. Mark for giving me the space and time to write, and Kenzo and Takeo for being my first and best inspiration. Thank you also to my family Melanie Nishime; Valerie, Carl, Paloma...
Preface. Why Are You? Multiracial Asian Americans and the Question of Visibility
During a publicity tour for The Replacements (2000), actor Keanu Reeves appeared on The Tonight Show reminiscing about his early days in Hollywood. He explained that his agent had tried to convince him to change his name to K. C. Reeves because, he said, “People won’t know what you are.” Leno responded...
1. Multiracial Asian Americans and the Myth of the Mulatto Millennium
In tracing the history and continued significance of multiracial representations, this book challenges a dominant U.S. cultural narrative. That narrative imagines multiracial people as symbols of the declining significance of race.1 In order to promise a race-free future, we must perceive multiracial people as...
PART I: Undercover Asians
2. Queer Keanu: The Politics of Bad Acting in the Era of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Early in Keanu Reeves’s career, Vanity Fair published an article titled “Kabuki Keanu,” but the short blurb accompanying the image offered little insight or information about either Reeves or his career. The magazine clearly meant to showcase the startling image that covered almost the entire...
3. Tiger Woods and the Perils of Colorblind Celebrity
For many, Tiger Woods—undoubtedly the single most famous multiracial African/Asian American in the world—symbolizes multiraciality. He is both the singular and prototypical multiracial Asian. The narrative of his celebrity (before the scandal of his extramarital affairs) depended on his difference...
4. Aliens: The Interracial Family in Battlestar Galactica
As the last two chapters have shown, the spectacle of multiracial celebrity provides a prominent site for audiences to explore and often willfully ignore the histories and meanings of race in the United States. However, fictional narratives focused primarily on multiracial people are few and far between in...
PART II: Asians Uncovered
5. The Matrix Trilogy and Multiraciality at the End of Time
This book opened with Keanu Reeves as a symbol par excellence of the flexibility of Asian racialization in visual culture, a flexibility that enables mainstream media narratives to represent racial categories as irrelevant while still punishing those who would not adhere to racial hierarchies. The three case studies analyzed...
6. Camp Kimora
A vivid example of both the appeal and the challenges of multiracial visibility within commercial culture occurred in the first season of Kimora Lee Simmons’s reality television show Life in the Fab Lane. In the words of the promotional ads, Simmons, who is African American and Asian American, is “a model...
7. Seeing Multiracial
In 2006, Kip Fulbeck published a book of photographs titled Part Asian, 100% Hapa.1 The images were taken from his larger art piece titled The Hapa Project, for which Fulbeck traveled across the country photographing and speaking to people who self-identified as multiracial Asian/Pacific Americans.2 It has since...