This month, the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! While we aren’t able to highlight every one of these amazing and diverse cultures, each week will feature an overall theme with related information. Today, we’re talking about AAPI in Pop Culture.
Last week we learned about the diverse AAPI community as well as a history of the Heritage Month. Now it’s time to talk about something that touches all of our lives: pop culture.
Whether it’s reading books, listening to music, watching movies, or experiencing podcasts, we undoubtedly all have a favorite way to be entertained and learn more about the world and ourselves. Often, we may see ourselves in historical figures and characters, wishing to grow up to be just like them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always a shared experience. Due to systemic racism and whitewashing, many cultures aren’t accurately depicted in media or even shown at all.
Consider semi-recent movies like Whisky Tango Foxtrot, Speed Racer, Aloha, Prince of Persia, Dragonball Evolution, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Batman Begins, Death Note, The Last Airbender, and Ghost in the Shell. In all of these examples, AAPI characters were portrayed by white actors. Despite the backlash, casting decisions like this continue to be made.
Fortunately, AAPI representation is on the rise, but not where it needs to be. The success of 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians (as well as the popular book series it’s based on) has shown that stories with a completely diverse cast are wanted by many.
Actors of AAPI heritage are also finally being recognized for their work through nominations and wins at the highest awards for television and film. Last year, Awkwafina became the first Asian actor to win at the Golden Globes for Lead Actress in a movie. The movie Parasite skyrocketed Bong Joon-ho and Kwak Sin-ae to be the first Asians to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
This year, Riz Ahmed (Pakistani descent) became the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor and Steven Yeun (Korean descent) became the first Asian American to be nominated in the same category. Of course, we can’t forget Chloe Zhao, director of Nomadland, who became the first Asian woman and woman of color to be nominated and win best director.
These are just glimpses at the film industry, but pop culture stretches beyond movies. Similar problems persist across all media, but changes are happening. Check out the resources below for movies, podcasts, and music from AAPI pop culture. Don’t forget to do your own research and find even more examples to enjoy.
Resources to Explore
Movies to Watch for AAPI Heritage Month
From recent award-winning films made by auteurs, to cinema classics, to family-friendly Disney movies, here are some the best movies to watch for AAPI Heritage Month (Parents may wish to pre-screen some of the content below to ensure it is appropriate for their family):
Great AAPI Podcasts
In recognition of the occasion, we’re rounding up the podcasts on the Audacy app that were made by Asian creators, talk about Asian issues, or feature bits of Asian history.
Here are just some of the podcasts out there that will help you celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, all available on the Audacy app:
- Add to Cart
- Asian Enough
- Yang Speaks
- Asians in the House
- Yo! Is this Racist?
- At the Moment: An Asian American News Podcast
- New Books In East Asian Studies
- New Books in South Asian Studies
These famous novels are celebrated as some of the best of all time. The rich history and detail will pull you in a transport you to a different time and place entirely.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Rising Asian Trends in Both Asia and Western Countries
- The Importance of Authentic Asian American Representation in Hollywood
- Asia Society (Kids)
- 12 Children’s Books to Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage
Challenges to Complete
Check out a piece of modern Asian music
Parents may wish to pre-screen some of the content below to ensure it is appropriate for their family.
This Spotify article has a roundup of voices from all across Asian cultures. K-Pop or Korean Pop, especially, is currently trending worldwide. Numerous bands are in the spotlight and even getting airtime on American radio stations.
- BTS “Dynamite” from South Korea: BTS (방탄소년단) ‘Dynamite’ Official MV – This song is primarily in English.
- BLACKPINK – ‘뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)’ also from South Korea, but this song is nearly entirely sung in Korean. BLACKPINK – ‘뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)’ M/V
Many other countries have their own forms of pop music; many of them are an abbreviation of the first letter of the country with “pop” on the end. (Examples: Japan = J-Pop, China = C-Pop, Thailand = T-Pop).
Girl Scout Values: Anti-Racism Patch
The Girl Scouts Anti-Racism Patch is a reflection that we are committed to our Girl Scout values that foster a community of justice, fairness, and inclusion. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, consider using the list of ideas and resources provided to earn the patch with your girl or troop and when you are ready, sign our Girl Scouts Stands Against Racism Pledge.
GSWNY acknowledges and condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community across the country. We uplift and amplify the Asian American Federation’s statement with Asian, Black, and Hispanic Association nonprofits condemning attacks and calling for solutions. We want to reiterate to all girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, and staff that we do not tolerate racial injustice, and we strive to create a welcoming space where all of our members feel they belong. Girl Scout members stand up and for the principles of the Girl Scout mission and law. You can find resources from the Asian American Federation here.