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LIFTING OF THE PERFUMED SHROUD

Interview with Sheridan Prasso
Author of the book "The Asian Mystique"

In a land perceived by the Western world as filled "Mystery and Sex, Fear and Desire"
Perception of The 'Orient' that has always meant lands far away,
full of opulence and sensuality, danger, depravity, and opportunity in Western eyes"
(Taken from Sheridan Prasso's "The Asian Mystique")

 

BUSINESS
US ASIANS: You've stated "we view Asia through lenses of either "weakness" or "threat" - we can conquer, how many failures does American businesses need to suffer that will prompt the U.S.-based companies that are targeting the consumer base throughout China and Asia to recognize that a tangible "change of thinking" is needed?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: I don't think it's a quantitative thing. What I can say about this is that ignorance puts us at a disadvantage in our dealings with China. Any person in business seeking to have advantage needs to be informed. Being informed takes deliberate study of Chinese culture and tradition, and an awareness of where our misunderstandings have been in the past. My hope is that my book will make a contribution in this regard.

US ASIANS: Noting CNOOC's failed proposed bid to purchase Unocal creating the constant "Yellow Peril" theories, despite Greenspan's statement that the fears debated in Congress were unfounded - how could one explain this fear while American businesses constantly strive to capture the consumers in China?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: The concept of "Orient," in the Western mind, has always meant both danger and opportunity. They are not mutually exclusive.

US ASIANS: Recognizing your challenge that American CEOs not see Asia as "conquerable" and dangerous" - what tangible and concrete motivation/fears would prompt this change of thinking to the mutual benefit of all parties?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Well, I keep giving the same answer, and here it is again: read my book.

POLITICS

Wen Ho Lee
Dr. Wen Ho Lee

Dr. Wen Ho Lee, a patriotic Taiwan-born American scientist was accused of espionage by Congress & the media while being portrayed as the most dangerous traitor since the Rosenbergs.
For more info, click
HERE

US ASIANS: What is your reasoning on why people such as Wen Ho Lee received hundredfold attention and scrutiny, especially when people that got convicted of similar and/or greater crimes at the same institutions are just given a "slap on the wrist?"

Stereotyped Asian Males
 
 
 
For more info, click HERE
 
SHERIDAN PRASSO: Yellow Peril is deeply institutionalized in American culture.

There is a fear that Asian men are inscrutable and untrustworthy - a long-standing image in the stereotyped portrayals of Asian men in Hollywood and manifested in Fu Manchu, the old "Heathen Chinese" poem, and a number of other representations.

"Committee of 100" surveys" (done in conjunction with ADL - Anti-Defamation League) have found that a majority of Americans say they don't trust Chinese Americans to be more loyal to the United States than to China. Wen Ho Lee was a victim of that Yellow Peril-motivated fear.

US ASIANS: Patronizing stereotypes can subvert entire business strategies.

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Yes, I have said that. I think it is true.

US ASIANS: Agreeing with your assessment of the destructive nature of stereotypes about Asia and the social, cultural, and political ramifications of allowing them to fester unchallenged, what factors will motivate Hollywood and American businesses to consider other options - especially noting the recent CNOOC and Hong Kong Disney examples?

 
 
Memoirs of a Geisha
SHERIDAN PRASSO: There are other options. There are indie films. There are Asian Americans who challenge the stereotypes. But the real money to be made in movies such as "Memoirs of a Geisha." As long as that is the case, it will not change very much.

US ASIANS: With Western men/business seeing China is either an economic threat or a market we have to conquer, penetrate and dominate - along with the inability to see it as an equal partner or with the nuances or realities that it really is - what factors will effective start a "change of thinking?" (i.e. Sino/American businesses, time, more interracial marriages/relationships, better media portrayals, etc.)

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Sure, all of that would help. But Western culture also needs a full recognition of our history of East-West interaction and why we hold the images in Western culture that we have today.

US ASIANS: Why do you feel that successful companies that have included a "global element" to their business coverage haven't overcome their embedded stereotypes of Asia - despite the vast potential of customers that these companies have identified and the resulting financial rewards?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Images are powerful and pervasive in our culture. They are hard to overcome because they are what people have come to expect in their understanding of foreign cultures.

US ASIANS: With a full 97 percent of companies exporting products from the United States are small- and medium-sized, meaning that they employ 500 or fewer employees that indicates the influence of small businesses, what additional things do they need to do to go beyond being restricted by the Asian mystique to embrace a mutually-beneficial business relations with Chinese businesses?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Knowledge and awareness are always the key to business success, for businesses of any size.

US ASIANS: How important is the element of "power" that maintains the vast cultural divide and inaccurate stereotypes between East and West, even in these days of easy travel and instant access?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: Very important. America is currently the most powerful and richest nation in the world without an enemy at its borders. Unlike smaller countries that must seek knowledge in order to gain advantage or fend off enemies, we do not have such a cultural motivation in American culture - yet.

HISTORY
US ASIANS: Remembering Edward Said's words "Orientalism is a Western-style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the Orient" - where one of the important developments in nineteenth-century Orientalism was the distillation of essential ideas about the Orient-its sensuality, its tendency to despotism, its aberrant mentality, its habits of inaccuracy, its backwardness-into a separate and unchallenged coherence - what factors are allowing Western men to continue this stereotype?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: I think that perhaps I have answered these topics above. Because it is a topic to which I have devoted more than 400 pages, it is difficult to encapsulate or expound on this more than I have above. I would emphasize, however, that it's not just men, it is our culture in general, as witnessed by the popularity of the Memoirs of a Geisha among women.

US ASIANS: With their Euro-centric viewpoints causing problems in Asia - along with other parts of the world where the communities are of a different color (i.e. Africa, South America and the Middle East) - when will the leaders in the "Western World" feel comfortable enough to negotiate on a level-playing field?

SHERIDAN PRASSO: As long as the U.S. remains the most powerful and richest nation in the world the current state of affairs and the paternalistic attitudes of U.S. foreign policy will continue. When we begin to feel enough of a challenge by Asian countries - or enough of an opportunity with them - it is only then that we will begin to level the playing field.

  Continue this interview by clicking HERE

 
Read about Sheridan's many perspectives on the "Asian Mystique" by clicking on the below-listed links
Note: "AFM" = Asian Female Mystique About Sheridan Prasso Accurate Portrayals Activism
Anna May Wong "AFM" - Conditions & Reasons "AFM" - History "AFM" - The Existing Status
Asian Pacific American Communities Asian Stereotypes Affecting APAs Balanced Media Portrayals Blind-Casting (Mr. Hwang)
Blind-Casting Business Changes? Course of Action
Daring AM/WF Films Difference Between European & Asian Divide Dr. Wen Ho Lee Films with AM/WF Romances
Historical Anti-Asian Racism History Images are Powerful Interracial Marriage Facts
Media's Bad Choices Memoirs of a Geisha Michelle Yeoh Multiracial Attitudes
Politics Purpose Behind the Book Sheridan's Recommendations Stereotyped Asian Males
Valid Commentary? U.S.' "Crotch-Forward/Chest-Out" Attitude UCLA Syndrome Western Mentality
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