In Unbinding Straightjacket Sexualities, it showcases two individuals in film who have not been pushed into the stereotypical Asian male roles of asexuality and weakness. These Asian American men, instead, portray characters of idealized love and desire. James Shigeta and Jason Scott Lee, two men of very different time periods, both were able to attain roles atypical of Asian men, though not entirely ideal. James Shigeta was prominent in Hollywood films from 1959 – 1961, whereas Jason Scott Lee was star during 1993 – 1994. These actors are able to fulfill roles of ‘political ecstasy’ in which the spectators are so enveloped in the realm of film that they can identify with ‘disprized other’. These two individuals were able to disparage the notion that Asian American male actors can only be limited to supporting roles. They were able to perpetuate the stereotypes of Asian male masculinity and portray characters that modeled more similarly after the Western notion of masculinity and what it means to be male in a patriarchal society. In a very male dominated society, Asian American men are often looked at as inferior and weak when compared to their white male counterparts. These stereotypes of asexual Asian men are ingrained deeply within the societal institution and the government through institutional racism.
It was refreshing to see two Asian American actors shown in such a favorable light. Prior to the introduction of these two men, I did not know of any Asian American men who were casted into lead roles of Hollywood blockbusters. While there were select movies in which Asian males are the lead, these films are often shot and edited in a different light and style, creating a more comedic environment. But when are Asian American men given roles of heroes, of knights in shining armor? When are they the heartthrobs, desired by all the women, white and Asian? These are seldom and few, so when I learned about James Shigeta and Jason Scott Lee through Straightjacket Sexualites, I was enthralled. These two men, facing aversion and unfavorable conditions, were able to do what many other Asian American men have been unable to do. They are indeed two men who should be highlighted for their accomplishments within the sphere of Asian Americans and the art and media.
Evelyn Pei — #83257157