Asian American Characters in Orange is the New Black

By Minjeong Kim

In a 2016 New York Times article, Asian American actors spoke out against persistent racism in Hollywood. Although television viewers have seen more Asian American characters in shows Fresh Off the Boat, Dr. Ken, and Master of None, a string of films were charged with “whitewashing”—having white actors fill Asian roles or tell Asian stories (e.g., Aloha, Doctor Strange, Ghost in Shell). This trend prompted not only a number of online petitions demanding Hollywood producers to stop whitewashing but also twitter hashtag #StarringJohnCho, where people post famous film posters with John Cho, Asian American actor of the Harold & Kumar fame, as the lead, to call for more Asian American representations in Hollywood films. The New York Times article also discusses the lack of meaningful portrayals of Asian characters. While the diversity scale in Hollywood has increased, actors of racial minorities are still relegated to supporting roles and Asian American roles are further marginalized. The hit Netflix show, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is no exception to this insidious trend.

In 2013, OITNB was debuted with critical and popular success for its unprecedented racial and sexual diversity in characters. Since then, the show has galvanized critical debates among feminist scholars regarding its depictions of race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, privilege, and the criminal justice system, and the contributors of Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black: Thirteen Critical Essays (eds. April Kalogeropoulos Householder and Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, McFarland Publishers, 2016), analyze these various issues from intersectional feminist perspectives. Continue reading “Asian American Characters in Orange is the New Black”

My Boyfriend’s Beef with My Drag Queen Crush

By Daniel Bartholomay

Last weekend, my partner and I (both cisgender gay men) took a friend of ours to a drag show at a local restaurant. After a fierce closing act featuring a Tina Turner impersonator, my partner, my friend, and I got into a heated discussion about the complicated relationship between gender, sex, and sexuality.

The debate started when I made a comment that I found one of the queens sexually attractive while she was in drag. My confessed drag queen crush threw my partner into a tizzy. Given our shared gay identity, my partner became defensive and questioned how I, as a gay man, could be attracted to an individual that was impersonating a woman. “So what, you’re bi now?” he half-jokingly asked. Continue reading “My Boyfriend’s Beef with My Drag Queen Crush”

Researching Magical Lesbians

by Penelope Dane

SuccubusIn mythology, a succubus is a woman demon who seduces men and sucks away their vitality. On Lost Girl, a Canadian supernatural drama, shown on Syfy and Netflix in the US, the heroine Bo is a succubus who belongs to a magical race called the Fae who often exploit humans. However, Bo uses her powers to protect other women from rapists, to fight for the rights of humans, and to restore life. Continue reading “Researching Magical Lesbians”