Monday, February 20, 2012

Linsanity in Media

Just a day after reading the article for this class entitled "Representing Gay Men On American Television, this story about NBA up-and-comer Jeremy Lin broke. It got me to thinking about how media, and not just television, portrays Asians.

There has undoubtedly been huge media buzz surrounding Lin's underdog story with fans' delight in the basketball star even being dubbed "Linsanity." However, despite Lin's apparent positive outlook, his stardom doesn't come without setbacks.

This article from the Washington Post presents an interesting viewpoint that, since a large amount of basketball players are Black Americans, their history is more well known and they are more widely accepted than Asians in basketball. And I think they make a good point.

The article quotes Guy Aoki, head and co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, saying "Because reporters 'don’t want anyone to think they condone the word’s use, they came up with the ‘N-word,’ ” Aoki said by telephone from Los Angeles. “There’s no such thing as the C-word . . . is there'

When the Madison Square Garden Network flashed a graphic of Lin sticking his tongue out, superimposed in the middle of a fortune cookie, Aoki wondered aloud: “Imagine if 80 percent of the league were Asian American. And a black player’s face was put in the middle of fried chicken and watermelon. How would that go over?"

The point that sticks out to me in all this is that stereotyping can present itself in all sorts of light. In this instance, black Americans are more prevalent in American basketball, and thus, are more better understood in this context. We stereotype Black Americans as being good at basketball the same way we stereotype Asians as being good with technology and the same way me stereotype homosexuals as being fashionable. And while these stereotypes include positive qualities, they are still something America must combat. This seems to happen most frequently through the four steps discussed in the class article.

I think Rob King, ESPN’s senior vice president of editorial, print and digital media sums it up well when he says, “The minute everybody starts patting ourselves on the back over reaching some kind of conclusion on the issue of race, something like this happens and makes us realize how far we have to go."


  1. While reading “The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media” and “Representing Gay Men on American Television,” I also thought about Linsanity in media. ESPN promoted an article about the game on its mobile platforms by pairing an image of Lin with the headline “Chink In the Armor” on 2/17. On Saturday morning, ESPN apologized for the offensive headline and later on Sunday, they fired the editor. ( Lin said “I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever. At the same time, they’ve apologized, and so from my end I don’t care anymore. Have to learn to forgive.” The former ESPN editor also told the Daily News, “This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny. I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy.”
    This reminded me of “inferential racism” in Stuart Hall’s article. I thought the editor unconsciously used those words. While writing the report, he just unconsciously used the words which he stereotyping Asians. It’s true that maybe the editor didn’t mean anything, but audiences may sensitive to some “problem” in race relations. Media should careful and responsible for this problem. Another article “Jeremy Lin asks for privacy for family in Taiwan,” reflected the privacy problem among celebrity all over the world. This media phenomenon really affects celebrity’s daily life and also their families’. I thought media should give celebrity and their family more free space. (

  2. This is an interesting topic. I think the reason Lin didn't stand out earlier was also because the stereotype of Asians: skinny, shy, hard-working, good at science and mathematics. But I think within the emerging of the second generation, who are in a mixed style of both culture, our understanding of stereotype people will change dramatically.

    Just like hundreds years ago when European immigrates first came to the United States, there must be many stereotype for them. that's why we have "little Italy" and Irish community in many big cities. After years, the culture assimilation changed our perception of people from different nations. Maybe mass media somehow helped people construct this perception. We saw more muti-race people showing on advertisement, Obama was selected as the president....

    However, even though Lin's family is originally from Taiwan/China but can we really define him as a Chinese? There are many interesting debates on China's social media: for someone like Lin, who was educated in the U.S., eating sticks and salad, and speaks English, the formation of his identity is no longer belong to China, or even Asian.