In the early part of last century, sex symbol VS white devil.
In the States, it was really interesting and unbelievable that Hollywood had a very famous and popular Asian sex symbol, Hayakawa, at an early time when racial segregation still existed.
"Hayakawa was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the silent era of the 1910s and 1920s. He was the first Asian leading man in the United States. His "broodingly handsome" good looks and typecasting as an exotic villain with sexual dominance unexpectedly made him a heartthrob among American women during a time of racial discrimination and became the first male sex symbol of Hollywood," "He was one of the highest paid stars of his time, earning $5,000 per week in 1915, and $2 million per year through his own production company during the 1920s. He starred in over eighty movies, and two of his films stand in the United States National Film Registry,"says the Wikipedia.
In Europe, Hiroshima mon amour, a French film written by Marguerite Duras, also achieved a big commercial success. It told a love story in a French-Japanese couple about memory and forgetfulness.
But, at the same time, China like many countries back then, suffered the pain of colonial plunderage from the west, and feudal exploitation, oppression from Manchurian governors.
The picture above was drawn during one of the largest protests against imperialist countries and feudal warlords in the early 20th century.
In the picture, the white guy looked ugly and fat, which meant imperialist countries were greedy and evil. And the Chinese guy with Manchurian custom stood for feudal warlords supported by colonists.
For the map above, each animal represented one imperialist country and they all had sphere of influence by supporting warlords and causing division and endless civil wars in China.
And this picture was describing the Russo--Japanese war happening in Northeast China. You obviously could see the image of the west were like ugly devils among Chinese people in those days.
From the late period of last century to now, the asexual ugly nerds VS the sexy attractive gentlemen
One the one hand, with the rising tensions between Japan and the United States before and in WWII, and after WWII, China became a communist country against the United States, Asian actors who refused to adopt the negative stereotypes were no longer welcome in Hollywood.
On the other hand, the popularity and sex appeal of Hayakawa and the cultural shock brought by Bruce Lee unsettled mainstream American society which were already filled with feelings of the "yellow peril".
Following the end of the war, Asian characters were depicted in a desexualized fashion in modern Hollywood and in the wider society.
There were tons of laughable Asian characters in the American entertainment industry.One recent example probably was the Asian character in 2 broken girls. He makes Asians look like idiots because of multiple stereotypes that he's portrayed. Han “Bryce” Lee was portrayed as extremely small, effeminate,asexual and he has a thick accent, also couldn't adapt to western culture. I also remember a scene in which the broken girl makes fun of his penis and causes a rapid flow of laughter.This contributes to the emasculation of Asian American males, and continues the “foreigner” stereotype. He reminds many people of the terribly stereotypical character Long Duk Dong from the 1980s film Sixteen Candles.
Ironically in China, after the government ended the planned economy and opened the domestic market to the world, they desperately want to build a close relationship with the world especially the west without giving up their dictatorship. After decades of propaganda against the west, they urgently need change people's attitudes towards white race to step into globalism. So the government walks from one extreme to another. They brain wash people to worship the west just like how the west brain wash their people to laugh at the east. Ridiculous enough right?
The Chinese movie, Lover's Grief over the Yellow River, a story about an American pilot meets and falls in love with a young Chinese female fighter who had been raped by the Japanese invaders. The American dude is portrayed as a faithful,handsome and brave hero who saved a beautiful young local girl.
Christian Bale even starred in a Chinese film, The Flowers of War.
He acted as a preacher who witnessed the Massacre of Nanking and saved uncountable lives during the WWII. He was also portrayed as a gentleman with justice and courage.
The most ridiculous one might be the upcoming Chinese film the Great Wall.
Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe are starring in the movie and the budget of it is about over 100 million USD. In this movie, some white guys will come to ancient China and defend the country against monsters and barbarians. Yes, you didn't hear wrong, it's not the Holy Roman Empire, it's ancient China. Yes, white men are saving everywhere. Lmao.
And no, I'm not talking about some low-cost unknown Chinese films. All the three were and will be starred by very famous Chinese actors and directed by influential Chinese directors. Tow of them are directed by Zhang Yi Mou who directed the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics.
Note: it might be not proper to use China to represent the east and America to stand for the west, I mainly write about these two, considering they're 2 countries with largest population of their culture.I have never been to the west and my perspective is just from what I've seen in western medias. So, don't please take it seriously. Thank you for your attention and please feel free to comment.