Meghan Markle‘s podcast Archetypes returned this week for the first time since Queen Elizabeth’s death, featuring comedian Margaret Cho and journalist Lisa Ling to discuss some of the harmful stereotypes Asian women face.
The Duchess of Sussex began her first episode since the hiatus by recalling the mixing pot of cultures she grew up surrounded by in Los Angeles and how “the multitude of Asian cultures was a huge part of that,” from visiting Little Tokyo on the weekends to enjoying a Korean spa day with her mom. She added, however, that she wasn’t aware until recently of the negative and prejudiced characterizations of Asian women that exist out there. Meghan explained, “Movies like Austin Powers and *Kill Bill—*they presented these caricatures of women of Asian descent as oversexualized or aggressive.” She noted that these are just two examples of many, adding, “This toxic stereotyping of women of Asian descent…this doesn’t just end once the credits roll.”
The royal then invited Cho on to explain the “Dragon Lady” stereotype which she cited as originating in the “fantasy of Orientalism.” The comedian continued, “It’s similar to the femme fatale…a woman who is beautiful and deadly. Because we can’t just be beautiful. We have to have, like, it has to come at a cost and it’s kind of like evil queen adjacent. But it’s also so pinned to this idea that Asian-ness is an inherent threat. That our foreignness is somehow ‘gonna getcha.’ The mystery and the exoticism of it is part of it. And unfortunately, that trope has really stuck to film, but also to Asian-American women or Asian women.” Cho said growing up watching TV and movies she also always felt very frustrated by the lack of inclusion of Asian people on screen. “I never saw Asian people in them, and so I never felt visible. I never felt seen anywhere,” she said. “And then later, I guess, I started to go into silent films, and I started to realize, ‘Oh, this is actually like an archetype, this archetype of the Dragon Lady,’” referring to stars of that time like Anna May Wong.
In another segment, Ling revealed that her decision to pursue journalism was also largely a response to not seeing anyone who looked like her on TV. “To be honest with you, the reason why I pursued broadcast journalism at all was because growing up, it’s the only path that I thought was available to me. I was someone who grew up in a broken home,” she said. “My parents were divorced when I was 7, and the television was always on in my home. It was like my favorite babysitter. And I used to have these fantasies of being part of it somehow because I thought, if I can get on TV, maybe I will have a better life one day. But no one looked remotely like me on TV except for Connie Chung.”
Three episodes of Archetypes were released prior to Queen Elizabeth’s death, featuring stars like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Mindy Kaling. But following the monarch’s passing, Spotify announced the show would go on hiatus during the official mourning period for the late queen. For royals, that period was extended until one week after the funeral which took place on September 19. The royal family have since resumed carrying out their official duties.
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