The global pandemic of COVID-19 has exacerbated anti-Asian racism— the demonization of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as viral origins— in the United States. Offering strategies for inclusion and for identifying tacit forms of misogynistic racism, this article analyzes the manifestation of the ideas of yellow peril and yellow fever in recent films and television series. The spectatorial aspect of racism has both fetishized Asian bodies and erased Asianness from content creators’ visual landscapes. These case studies reveal that racialized thinking is institutionalized as power relations in the cultural and political life, take the form of political marginalization of minority groups, and cause emotional distress and physical harm within and beyond the fictional universe.
Keywords anti-Asian racism, misogyny, tropes of illness, colorblind gaze, techno-Orientalism
I wish to thank Jason Blum for inviting me to speak to content creators at Blumhouse Productions and Karim Boughida for inviting me to deliver the Dean of Libraries’ Lecture at the University of Rhode Island. This essay is based on my presentations.