The 22nd Annual Society for Animation Studies Conference

Alison Loader

“We’re Asian, More Expected of Us!” Representation, The Model Minority and Whiteness on King of the Hill

For y
ears the only Asian American family on prime time, was a cartoon. The Souphanousinphones were regular characters in King of the Hill, which was, until its cancellation last year, the second longest running prime time animated sitcom after The Simpsons. As neighbours and rivals to the titular Hill family, the Souphanousinphones contributed to overarching themes of whiteness and class anxiety in the American South. Various episodes explored the Asian American experience of difference and assimilation, and the myth of the Model Minority. King of the Hill defied and perpetuated traditional stereotypes and offered the rare spectacle of Asian racial grief. These representations may have been two-dimensional but only because they were drawn that way.

Biographical statement: Alison Reiko Loader is an animation filmmaker, instructor and graduate student at Concordia University, Canada. Beginning with her first film, Showa Shinzan, produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 2002, her work has explored identity, race and cultural heritage. Her current research interests in animated installation, stereoscopy and anamorphosis constitute more formal approaches to representation and perception. Nevertheless she can still enjoy a good cartoon.