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Asian Women Representation in Male-Dominated Media

The strong female lead has been the upcoming trend in the movie industry since 2019. However, it is still significantly less in number, compared to male leads; especially when it comes down to Asian females as leads in Asian films. If Hollywood shows aren’t your thing, we’ve got you covered with a list of spectacular Netflix shows for you to watch, starring Asian women as the leading protagonist.

Photo by ‘Furie’ on Netflix

‘Furie’ is a Vietnamese martial art thriller film that circulates on the struggle of a very strong and bold mother of one, Hai Phuong. Her life is flipped into a very different dimension when her daughter goes missing, and it is now up to her to save her child, which leads her on a journey through the underbelly of the city. The movie has a strong storyline that connects immediately with the audience, never failing to impress with each and every scene. Not to mention, Veronica Ngo (Ngo Van Tranh)’s acting is definitely on point with her intense action scenes, which set a new standard for other Asian female leads.

Photo by 'Bulbbul' on Netflix

Next on our list is ‘Bulbbul’, a Hindi film whose theme is based on an itinerant spirit that finds a home everywhere. This is a tale that subtly involves the real-world, but adds its own touch in this universe of pneuma. The movie talks about how the world order is pivoted on male desire, and how this world reacts with rage and revenge whenever female desire emerges. To illustrate, the story mainly revolves around a young girl named Bulbbul getting involved in a ‘child marriage’ to a man with a powerful family background, who lives in a majestic haveli with his twin brother. The actress Tripti Dimri performs as the protagonist, Bulbbul, capturing the changes in her character from innocence to maturity perfectly. The movie serves as a way for audiences to reflect on the flaws of patriarchy, and teaches the younger generation that women are not to be “held down” by societal laws.

Photo by 'Always Be My Maybe' on Netflix

Always Be My Maybe’ is another option that features a female Asian lead. The movie is a rom-com with a storyline revolving around the undervaluing of women’s strengths by worshipping patriarchal culture. This film gets love and representation right, by featuring an Asian-American cast: Ali Wong, who is known for her stand-up comedy, plays Sasha Tran; a famous chef, who returns to her hometown after 15 years and rekindles her relationship with her childhood friend Marcus Kim, portrayed by Randall Park. Director Nahnatchka Khan portrays their romance gracefully, with the film’s accurate representation of Asian-Americans, allowing Asians everywhere to connect with certain cultural norms.

Conclusively, it is very important to also showcase women as main leads in movies, in order for the media to break traditional society’s norms and taboos of women being seen as “inferior”. Though societal change in accepting women as equals may not be able to be achieved in a day, with proper female representation in the media, our generation will be able to start taking those steps towards a more equal society.

By: Ivenathika Naranthiran


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