Masculinity in transit : John Cho, Steven Yeun, and the Korean American diaspora onscreen




Wright, Jackson C.

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With recent Asian American successes in film, such as the mass appeal of Crazy Rich Asians (2018) and Minari (2020), it becomes increasingly important to understand how cultural depictions of Asian Americans directly confront stereotypes related to nationality, gender, and race. A strong and critical body of research and theorization already exists on enduring tropes that limit the discussion surrounding Asian American subjectivity, including work on the Model Minority and Asian American film activism post-1960s. This report aims to specify this knowledge through two star studies on John Cho and Steven Yeun. Both actors have emphasized the political motivations of their work and career decisions, resulting in their roles and praises standing in for the Asian American community, in general. Through these star studies, which engages with promotional materials (interviews, press releases) and texts (films, trailers), I find that Cho and Yeun’s portrayals of transnationality and gender reveal an inherent intertwining of both these concepts. Therefore, this project acknowledges the difficulty to define nationality and sexual identity apart from one another.


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