Throughout the books we have covered this semester, the notion of stereotypes has risen to aid the reader in understanding the characters’ hardships. Stereotyping in many cases takes on a derogatory connotation. To stereotype is to presume that there is a known basis, or, as the Oxford English Dictionary tells it; “A preconceived and oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc.” In “The Interpreter”, Suzy Park was jestingly referred to as Suzy Wong, the epitome of the Asian mystique. This reference was bolstered by the sexuality that arose in the book (her escapades with Michael, and Damien). In “School for Hawaiian Girls”, Lydia was the emblematic Hawaiian girl that did whatever was on her mind, and later paid the price. Her role in the novel encouraged Moani’s pursuit to find her bloodline, and was the basis of Sam’s guilt for the incest that occurred in the twenties. “My Year of Meats” ended this semester without a doubt that stereotyping is a prominent theme in Asian American women’s literature.
John Wayne, the famous western film star was the epitome of American cowboy culture; the ever-prevailing, protagonist with a good heart wearing blue jeans. Ruth Ozeki gave the Japanese director Joichi Ueno his name for a reason and it’s no surprise that John Ueno is an advocate for the American culture and coincidentally, beef (“pork is possible, but beef is best”). He is in search of “wholesome” families for the television show that portray the All-American lifestyle. If he could get a show of John Wayne frying a steak around a campfire after a long day of herding cattle, it would be the season finale. As an outsider of this country, Ueno has stereotyped America as this picture-perfect land of the free and home of the brave.
A great aspect of “My Year of Meats” is the way Ozeki utilizes both the Japanese and American society to represent both sides of the racial and cultural sphere. The Japanese producer’s search of a “wholesome” All-American family emphasizes an outsiders’ idea of what it means to be American, while the Japanese crew’s journey across the U.S. allowed for American’s views of the Japanese to be brought up in the conflicts that arose. The problem that arises with these stereotypes is that they can be obsolete perceptions, and they can further complicate the harmony needed for racial and cultural acceptance.