Actor Calls Out ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and ‘The Boys’ for Using ‘Silent Asian’ Cliché

Actor Calls Out ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and ‘The Boys’ for Using ‘Silent Asian’ ClichéActor Calls Out ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and ‘The Boys’ for Using ‘Silent Asian’ Cliché
Ryan General
October 21, 2020
Actor Jimmy Wong has called out several popular streaming shows for perpetuating the “Silent Asian” trope.  
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Silent, therefore mysterious: The “Mulan” star took to Twitter to single out Amazon’s “The Boys” and Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” for their clichéd handling of Asian characters.
  • Wong posted images of Karen Fukuhara as the mute character Kimiko Miyashiro in “The Boys” and Justin H. Min who plays Ben Hargreeves, a ghost character in “The Umbrella Academy.”
  • “Least favorite acting thing I’ve noticed during pandemic binge watching: incredibly sexy and good looking Asian actors playing characters with barely ANY dialogue because it’s supposed to be… mysterious?” he wrote.
  • In film or series, the “Silent Asian” trope refers to the usually singular Asian character who has little to no dialogue.
  • As Wong later points out, the trope has increasingly become common in a number of popular shows and movies in recent years.
  • In the case of the roles of Fukuhara and Min, both played important parts in their respective stories but had very few interactions and limited dialogue throughout their entire first seasons.
Deflecting the issue: Fans of the shows have responded to Wong’s post, with some of them justifying the non-speaking roles as necessary to the stories’ plot. 
  • Fans defended the silence of Kimiko Miyashiro as this was a result of her backstory of lifelong abuse.
  • The same can be said of Ben Hargreeves, whose reason for not being able to communicate with any other members of his family is because he died early in the show.
  • In response, Wong shared a screenshot from an interview with “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke who acknowledged the show’s use of the trope.
  • Kripke noted that he too “…felt they’d fallen into the stereotype of ‘a quiet Asian woman’ in the first (season).”
  • Wong also included a thread by Twitter user @FaatiTheStreet which showed other examples of female characters of color “who inexplicably can’t/don’t communicate with the main cast of mostly white characters.”
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Changes to come? Min appears to have more dialogue and screen time in the upcoming season as it was hinted in the last episode of season two that he’ll be playing an entirely new role. A similar change may also be in order for Fukuhara with “The Boys” showrunner recognizing the problematic issue. 
Feature Image (left) via Netflix, (right) Amazon Prime
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