Tao Okamoto portrays Mercy Graves in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Mercy Graves is Lex Luthor’s bodyguard and assistant.
If this role is familiar, it’s because it is common in Hollywood to depict Asian women as sacrificing themselves totally to a white man. As a servant, as a protector. For example, we see this in Wolverine (see our report), where Yukio (Asian woman) is the bodyguard and servant to Wolverine (white man).
It’s worth noting that the Mercy Graves character historically was not Asian. She has appeared in past media productions as a white woman. However, when Hollywood gets its hands on the source material, it inevitably steers the casting and plot to suit its agenda.
In Dawn of Justice, Mercy clearly admires Lex, constantly complementing him, such as after his press conference. The price that Mercy pays for her sycophancy and bodyguarding of Lex is her life. According to DC Universe Wikia:
“Later, Mercy is present at the US Capitol with Lex and Wallace Keefe to attend the Senate committee hearing for Superman. After he has a brief talk with Senator Finch, Lex instructs Mercy to enter the committee chamber and reserve him a seat. However, Lex never arrives and when a bomb hidden inside Keefe’s wheelchair is detonated Mercy and all others present perish, bar Superman.”
Also worth noting, like many Hollywood movies, Asian women get omitted except for inclusion that stereotypes them. Besides Mercy, the only others are Asian sex slaves that Batman rescues.
From “There’s even a suicide bomber scene, and the only time we see Batman doing anything “regular day” is when he’s rescuing some sex slaves” (source). The sex slaves are all Asian.
They are shown as nameless sex objects. If the movie had many other representations of Asian woman and this was one scene among others, that would be different.
Analysis: Hollywood rarely depicts Asian women as strong. They make an exception here because even though the women they depict do not appear physically strong enough to defend fairly powerful men, the role is symbolic.
It signifies that white men are so important, that an Asian woman will gladly sacrifice everything she has including her life for him (a bodyguard will risk her own life for the one they protect). Only in this scenario do white Hollywood writers and directors depict the Asian woman as strong because it serves the broader point they wish to make.
In addition to the Wolverine which we referenced above, in the Interview (see our report), Sook (Asian woman) gladly kills for Seth Rogen’s character Aaron (white male).
More generally, the Asian woman as sacrificing herself for whites is seen repeatedly in Hollywood. We see this in Ex-Machina (see our report), where Kyoko (Asian woman) sacrifices herself for Ava (white woman). In Ex-Machina, the thanks Kyoko gets is that Ava leaves her dying on the floor as she escapes and never looks back. Similar to Dawn of Justice, Lex gladly sacrifices Mercy’s life as though it means nothing despite her sacrifices and admiration for him.
The theme that Hollywood is bringing across is that Asian women should respect whites so much that they should gladly make every sacrifice, including their lives.
OFFENDER: Warner Bros.
CATEGORY OF OFFENSE: Gender ( Asian female worshipping of White men)
MEDIA TYPE: Movie
OFFENSE DATE: March 25, 2016