Marvel’s Shang-Chi with its Asian American superhero is an important film for Asian American representation. But is this really a cultural watershed moment or more of a marketing opportunity to ensure profit for Disney’s shareholders? Could it be exploiting the desire for more positive Asian representation? Time to buckle up as we dive into these issues in our new video, “Shang-Chi: Does the Legend Live up to the Hype?”. In our webinar we talk about filmmakers and films that pushed the boundaries further and paved the way for Shang-Chi’s success – why didn’t they receive the same attention? How much does Shang-Chi really challenge Hollywood stereotypes of Asian men? A movie like Shang-Chi is overdue and a milestone for the AAPI community, but there’s still a long way to go in terms of Asian representation on the big screen! 

The original Reference Library page for the Shang-Chi video has been updated with the recording of a webinar (below right) which was inspired by the Shang-Chi video (below left).  The webinar delve more deeply on the subject of Asian American representation in the media and what additional steps the guest speakers feel are necessary to advance the visibility of Asian Americans. Reference Materials and For Teachers sections have both been updated with additional information.

Produced by The 1990 Institute

Published Oct 7, 2021

Webinar Co-Hosted with Serica Initiative

Published Dec 17, 2021

Time Codes

0:00 Introduction

1:01 History of Emasculation of Asian Men  

2:16 Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood

2:37 How’s Shang-Chi Doing?

2:55 He Didn’t Get to Kiss the Girl! 

3:35 Strong Female Characters & The Four Quadrants

4:16 How to Market a Superhero Movie? 

5:25 Asian Men in Leading Roles

5:50 Cultural Message & the Power of Media

7:00 The Evolving Definition of Male Masculinity 

8:04 The Future of Asian Representation

Time Codes

0:00 Introduction

6:00 Impact of popular media and cultural arts on stereotypes and how AA representation affected the speakers

11:15 Masculinity

15:30 Praise publicly criticize privately

22:10 Femininity and Asian American women stereotype

26:26 Hollywood’s view on Asians

29:00 Masculinity in China

32:22 Korean Influence, media projects and China’s soft power

41:53 #starring John Cho and path forward

51:51 Audience

Q&A Two Polls were conducted during the webinar and here are the results:

Which most closely captures  your reaction to the statement

  • 3% A curse that has inflamed resentments, exacerbated tensions, and led to a rise in anti-AAPI hate
  • 48% A blessing, with much better representation in media and culture helping to overthrow long standing stereotypes
  • 49% A mixed blessing: sometimes, the nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down first

Increased Asian visibility in America has been:

  • 11% Hey yeah! Asian men finally have some game! They’ve been swiping right on us 24×7!
  • 8% Actually, it’s made it worse, since most of us don’t have NTS dance moves or Simu Liu’s six pack
  • 82% Things are about the same.  Just because they like BTS and Shang Chi doesn’t mean Asian men aren’t still largely sexually invisible
Reference Materials USC Annenberg Inclusion InitiativeOKCupid Data, quoted by BBC

What You See Isn’t What You Get: The Role of Media in Anti-Asian Racism, March 17, 2021, Nielsen

What Is Toxic Masculinity? by Maya Salam, January 22, 2019, The New York Times

How Marvel’s Shang-Chi Had To “Destroy” Its Own Racist Origins, by Eric Francisco, August 26, 2021, Inverse

Asians and Pacific Islanders Account for Less Than 6 Percent of Speaking Roles in Hollywood Films, Study Finds, by Abid Rahman, May 18, 2021, The Hollywood Reporter

References added on December 17, 2021

Bill Imada. “Asian-American representation today is an investment for tomorrow.” 2020 USC Annenberg, School of Communication and Journalism. 05 March 2020. Web.

Dr. Nancy Wang Yuen, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Dr. Katherine Pieper, Marc Choueiti, Kevin Yao & Dana Dinh. “The Prevalence and Portrayal of Asian and Pacific Islanders across 1,300 Popular Films. USC Annenberg, School of Communication and Journalism. May 2021. Web.

Eric Francisco. “How Marvel’s Shang-Chi Had To “Destroy” Its Own Racist Origins.” 26 Aug 2021. Inverse.

Jiayun Feng. “China wants teenage boys to man up, but public fears toxic masculinity. SupChina. 01 Feb 2021. Web.

Jiayun Feng. “Are ‘fresh young meat’ a threat to national masculinity? SupChina. 11 July 2018. Web.

Manya Bonada. “The rise of Korean culture around the globe. 01 Nov 2021. The Mercury. Web.

Maya Salam. “What Is Toxic Masculinity? 22 Jan 2019, The New York Times.

Mary-Ann Russon. “K-beauty: The rise of Korean make-up in the West. 21 Oct 2018. BBC News: Business. Web.

Richard Morgan. “Asian American masculinity is being increasingly celebrated. But many men still face stereotyping.” 22 June 2021. Washington Post.

Sharon Heijin Lee. “Asian American Identity, K-beauty and what BLM means to Asians.” Mommy Diary. Podcast.

Yu, Charles. Interior Chinatown, New York: Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.  2020.

 For Teachers A lesson guide for 9-12 grade teachers to discuss masculinity, Asian representation in film and cinema, and how images portrayed by the media might or might not influence the perception of Asian Americans.Shang-Chi Lesson Guide

Additional Resource added on December 17, 2021

Asian Americans on the Big Screen :Responding to Stereotypes Asian Americans K-12 Education Curriculum – Asian American Education Project


Updated Dec 17, 2021

Films and television series that represented Asian Americans positively or negatively

Always Be My Maybe 

A Simple Favor

Better Luck Tomorrow

Blue Bayou

Breakfast at Tiffany’s 

Charlie Chan’s Secret     

Chen is Missing 

Crazy Rich Asians

Dr. No

Doctor Strange

Enter the Dragon 

Flower Drum Song 

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

IP Man

Joy Luck Club

Kim’s Convenience 

Lucky Grandma (new addition)


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

Revenge of the Nerds

Rush Hour 

Saving Face


Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Sixteen Candles

Snake Eyes 

Sound of Metal

The Big Sick 

The Brides of Fu Manchu

The Cheat

The Crow 

The Farewell 

The Goonies

The Grandmaster

The Green Hornet 

The Green Knight

The Hangover 

The Replacement Killers 

The Wedding Banquet

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