Raising awareness through marketing by Carolyn Hamaker

I was adopted from Vietnam when I was 15 months old. My parents love watching movies and television, so I grew up watching a lot of TV and films. It wasn’t until I turned 20 that I realized the American film and television industry didn’t love me as much I loved it.

When I took Dr. Christopher House’s Introduction to Culture and Communications class during my sophomore year of college, I learned that Asian Americans were rarely portrayed in the media. If we did have representation, it was stereotypical and limited.

In high school, I watched a lot of documentaries about how women were portrayed in the media, but I never knew how badly Asian Americans were misrepresented. I never thought stereotypical representations on the media had a strong effect on me, but then I remembered thinking, “I don’t see myself with an Asian guy.” That is what I said to myself in middle school.

I realize now that the reason I said that is because Asian males are portrayed as unattractive in the media. Now, I have a Filipino boyfriend and I’m horrified that I ever even said that. Looking back at my life, I realized that my siblings were also affected by these stereotypical representations. My Indian brother told me he wanted lighter skin and my Vietnamese brother wondered why he never saw Asians as main characters. Both my brothers wish they were taller, and this is because white people are seen as the standard for beauty.

IPAAFF is important to me because there are millions of other people out there being affected by the media and its portrayals of Asian Americans. Participating in IPAAFF means I can help pick films that represent Asian Americans in a more humanized way. In media planning, I learned that “No matter how good the advertisement, it will mean nothing if no one watches it.”

I wanted to work on the marketing team because the film festival, along with the important stories and messages embedded in the films, will not create change if no one knows about it. I am an integrated marketing and communications major, and I want to use my marketing and communications skills to raise awareness of social justice issues. The IPAAFF is a perfect way for me to use my skills to promote a cause I care about. I hope IPAAFF will show people that Asian Americans can be amazing writers, directors, and actors, and I want people to see that Asian Americans do have stories to tell in a way that everyone can relate. I look forward to viewing the films the film committee chooses. I hope Asian Americans will one day be seen as Americans and I hope to see a film about an adoptee or about a family with kids from different parts of the world.

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