MODEL MINORITY MASOCHISM
Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity
Published April 2022
There are few grand narratives that loom over Asian Americans more than the "model minority." While many Asian Americanist scholars and activists are quick to disprove the model minority as "myth," author Takeo Rivera instead rethinks the model minority as cultural politics. Rather than disproving the model minority, Rivera instead argues that Asian Americans have formulated their racial and gendered subjectivities in relation to the model minority relation that Rivera terms "model minority masochism." With specific attention to hegemonic masculine Asian American cultural production, Rivera details two complementary forms of contemporary racial masochism: a self-subjugating masochism which embraces the model minority, and its opposite, a self-flagellating masochism that punishes oneself for having been associated with the model minority at all.
"With this brave and moving book, Takeo Rivera takes a deep dive into the affect streams of melancholy that haunt, taunt, push and reproduce racialized masculinities. With brief personal interludes, as well as innovative means to take up such topics as Asian American political indebtedness to the Black radical tradition, the author skillfully tracks the uses and abuses of masochism in Asian American drama, film, and digital arts. Does minority masochism fuel or hinder toxic masculinities, anti-Blackness, anti-Asianness, and misogyny? The author is skilled at teasing out the complexities in this and other questions through his excellent examples."
-- Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
"If one were to amass just about everything that has been written about Asian America, especially with regard to theories, criticism, and intimations of the âmodel minority,â and add an explosive device, one would achieve less of an effect than Takeo Rivera's Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity. Dazzling, bracing, shocking, and deeply disturbing (in all senses), this is a book to be reckoned with"
-- David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford University, author of Speaking Out of Place: Getting Our Political Voices Back (2021)