Originally posted by whodey
Why are there really no Asian actors who are considered superstars?
I guess Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee would be considered superstars, but there aren't many, it's true. The obvious answer is that cinema historically grew up mainly in Western Europe and the USA, and that people are interested in learning about themselves, so most stories are about Europeans and Americans, almost always from their point of view. There's nothing inherently racist about this as I think some often try to claim, although I'm not really able to comment on whether or not racism is a problem in Western cinema — I think you need to know an awful lot about film and film culture before you can credibly make that sort of claim, and even then there's wide scope for counter-arguments and no definite answer.
Also, India grew its own film industry, Bollywood, where it expressed aspects of its distinctive culture, so that's 1bn or so people who would maybe only see, or at least vastly prefer, Bollywood films right off the bat. Other Asian nations besides India, Japan and China and a couple of others probably don't have a huge market yet for films, although I'm sure things will even out eventually. (I'm saying this without knowing very much detail about Asia at all and never having been anywhere on that vast and beautiful continent, so please don't jump on me for misrepresenting Asians). But the very phenomenon of Bollywood proves that there are Asian superstars, just not known to Western audiences. I'm sure there are Chinese film superstars too, in China.
Perhaps too, there's a sort of artistic inertia created by the fact that Hollywood dynasties have arisen whose focus is mainly on their 'home culture', and their money and influence talks, to put it bluntly. And maybe (I'm really speculating now) cinema is quite a radical departure artistically from traditional culture in some Asian countries, so needs extra time to gain acceptance.
We mustn't forget the language barrier, although this is reduced a lot now. But I think for an Asian to learn a Western language or vice versa tends to be much harder than for, say, an Englishman to learn French or a Chinese to learn Japanese. So for that reason, I suppose many Asian people would historically find it hard not only to make an impression on western cinemagoers as actors or actresses, but also to gain influence in other areas of the industry. Many still would today, I'd wager.
I heard that the new "must-see" blockbuster, Fast & Furious 7, may be unique in having a cast that's spectacularly representative people from different nations, colours and creeds, and that's one reason for it's huge success among adolescents. And good for them if it is indeed true. If it's anything like the few scenes of one of the earlier films I saw, it's not successful for the quality of the acting or the dialogue. SFX, of course, is another matter...