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Pitch Perfect And Its Far-From-Perfect Portrayal of Asian-American Women

By Guest Contributor Nisha H.

Cast poster for the film “Pitch Perfect.” Via mockingjay.net.

Pitch Perfect is a film that tells the underdog tale of a nearly-defunct a capella group, the Barden Bellas, rising through the collegiate ranks again and reclaiming former glory. It also features not one, but two East Asian female characters, providing writers with ample “Asians and music” stereotypes to riff off of, such as the piano-playing prodigy or Asians with perfect pitch (this movie is called Pitch Perfect; would this not have been the most perfect stereotype to use?).

But instead of the brilliant Asian musicians that I thought might grace the screen, I instead found myself looking not at two characters but two caricatures, with a world of missed opportunities to draw on positive stereotypes. This isn’t to say that the usage of positive racial stereotypes is much better than the negative ones; it’s just that if writers are going to insist on reducing ethnic characters to easily digestible, tired tropes, I’d rather have them draw on one of the “positive” stock stereotypes over the negative ones. With limited visibility of Asian Americans in the media, you want the few instances where you do get represented to be positive.

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