Because many Americans mistakenly view geishas as the Japanese equivalent of prostitutes, Ji-Yeon Yuh, for one, is afraid [“Memoirs of a Geisha”] will reinforce stereotypes about Asian women as exotic, submissive and obedient sexually.
“My personal belief is it’s better to have no Asians or Asian-Americans in the movies than to have only this sort of stereotypical and demeaning role,” says Yuh, the director of Asian-American Studies at Northwestern University. “What, really, is so great about being in the movies that any role-–even a demeaning one-–is better than no role?”
Eight years ago — prior to the release of the film adaptation of “Memoirs of a Geisha” — I wrote this piece for the Chicago Tribune. When I write these types of articles, I always hope that things will change for the better in the future. But, more often than not, things appear to remain the same. If you’d like to read the full article, it’s archived here. It’s lengthy, but worth the look (if I do say so myself).