Wieden + Kennedy’s new film The Myth confronts the damaging and divisive stereotype of the “model minority”
Using a combination of shot footage and archival footage, The Myth explores how such narratives affect not only Asian-Americans but other marginalised communities.
- 6 June 2022
- Olivia Hingley
In 2019, Wieden + Kennedy created the short film Call it Covid-19. Using both the written and spoken word, the film interacted with the rise in Anti-Asian violence that occurred throughout the pandemic. Its new film, The Myth, is another powerful response to continuing Anti-Asian sentiments present throughout America. But, this time, senior writer Titania Tran, senior art director Dan Koo and global culture and operations manager Mimi Munoz, wanted to explore the damaging and erroneous stereotype of “The Model Minority”. Using pertinent, considered visuals and a compelling voiceover narrative, The Myth creatively confronts the simultaneously reductive and possessive quality of such a divisive misconception.
“This year we continue to witness ongoing violence against not only our Asian community, but against our Black, Latinx and so many other vulnerable, marginalised communities”, begins Titania. Having experienced this violence first hand, and wanting to prevent others from experiencing it too, the team “interrogated” their means of ending it, which included “examining ourselves”. “That’s when we recognised how we – Asian Americans – have been used as a weapon. The model minority myth presents a false image that hurts not only us, but everyone else held in comparison,” Titania adds.
Out of this realisation came the film’s core message: “We belong here. All of us. Together.” It was this sense of togetherness and unity that compelled the team to create something “inescapably human”. This was also in contention to the prior content and research the team could find which interacted with the model minority myth: “beyond the cold facts and statistics, few, if any, told the story of what it actually felt like to live under this false label.”
In response to these numerous factors, Titania explains the visual approach to “build” – “Building upon emotions. Building upon history”. To emulate this idea, Dan was particularly intentional about using shot footage and archival footage in tandem, creating both a “visceral” and “sometimes conflicting” effect. Not only manifesting in such arresting and engaging visuals, the combination effectively translates the message that a long-lasting history of repression and marginalisation is continually repeating itself. And, designing an “end scene that wasn’t quite an ending” – a particularly poignant moment between two lovers – shows that there is still so much more to be done.
Reflecting on the project, Titania expresses that the team wish for the film to manifest positive changes in personal perceptions. “We hope for this film to free as many people as possible”, she says, “we hope it frees them from who they may believe that should be – or be with – as dictated by the ‘model minority’.”
Wieden + Kennedy: The Myth (Copyright © Wieden + Kennedy, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.