Actor Daniel Wu criticises Barbie maker Mattel for playing to Asian stereotypes


Daniel Wu's Weibo post included images of a Barbie playing the violin and another Barbie dressed as a doctor wearing a panda-themed outfit. Photos: Mattel

Film star Daniel Wu criticised the Barbie manufacturer for perpetuating stereotypical images of Asians on social media.

His post included images of a Barbie dressed as a doctor wearing a panda-themed outfit and another Barbie playing the violin, both of which depicted Asian characters.

“I am all for diversity, but a ‘you can be anything’ Asian Barbie that is a violinist or a panda doctor? That’s more like ‘You can be anything your Asian parents want you to be’,” said Wu on social media.

“Either someone non-Asian at Barbie f***ed this up with stereotyping, or the person who created this is Asian and they are carrying on generational trauma.”

The 49-year-old actor is married to American model Lisa S, 45, and they have a 10-year-old daughter.

The Barbie dolls are manufactured by American toy and entertainment company Mattel.

The company, which owns one of the world’s strongest portfolios of children’s and family entertainment franchises, said on its website that their purpose is to “empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential”.

Many Chinese immigrants in the past have fervently hoped that their children would become doctors, and playing the violin was often a talent they encouraged.

However, some have criticised the perpetuation of these stereotypes, pointing out that even positive labels can limit individual aspirations and reinforce expectations of a person based on his or her race or ethnicity.

In July 2021, American violinist Pinchas Zukerman angered many of the roughly 100 students and teachers during a masterclass at the Juilliard School, a private performing arts conservatory in New York City, when he invoked racist stereotypes about Asians.

Zukerman later apologised for his comments. – China Daily/Asia News Network

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