Essay: Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

Essay details:

  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
  • Reading time: 9 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published on: July 26, 2019
  • File format: Text
  • Number of pages: 2
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America is clearly a melting pot, not a melting screen. Founded on ideals of freedom, in the United States there are dreams to be chased—equal opportunities and upward social mobility offer a lot of promise. But for some races, the “equal opportunities” they receive turn out to be less equal than that of other groups. Almost invisible in mainstream media, many Asians in America find themselves struggling to enter an industry heavily unreceptive toward their race. In a country with arguably the most diverse collection of differing ethnicities, races, cultures, and religions, the American entertainment industry is almost sterile in its representation of this wide variety. A study done by USC in 2013 revealed that the entertainment industry hardly reflects America’s eclectic population, with 76.3% of all speaking characters in movies being Caucasian, 10.8% being black, 8.2% Hispanic, and scraping the bottom of the barrel are Asians at a paltry 3.6% (Keegan). With Asians composing 7.2% of America’s total population, one has to wonder about the disparity between reality and the underrepresentation of Asians in the media. Even relative to other minorities, Asians remain elusive on the big screen. The answer to why Asians are so scarce in the media and entertainment industry may lie in something dubbed by American economist Jane Hyun as the “bamboo ceiling”, a term used to describe the barrier that prevents Asians from reaching certain positions on the corporate ladder, especially in the entertainment industry, regardless of skill or expertise. A troubling aspect of the bamboo ceiling is that no one group is responsible for it—the community is, through its everyday actions and treatment of the Asian population, a philosophical concept called subjectivity. Powerful “Ideological State Apparatuses”, or ISAs, imprint on Asians what their role in society should be. The dominant class shapes the culture of the community, asserting their ideology as natural and normal. Thus, it establishes hegemony, where the population finds itself “spontaneously” consenting to those ideals. In conjunction with ISAs and hegemony, Asians are also affected by interpellation, in which they are led to believe they freely walk into their subjected identities when they are in fact beckoned into it. In Donald Hall’s Subjectivity, Hall elucidates the hazy workings of subjectivity on individuals, describing identities as the product of external forces exerting their perspective on them. For Asians in America, so much of what we have been subjected to has become reality.

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