Eastern Gunslingers: Andrew Cunanan and Seung-Hui Cho in the Western Media Imaginary

Taeyun Yu


Two Asian-Americans, separated by a decade, figures prominently in the United States and global media for perpetrating acts of violence against mainly white American victims. Despite the national, social, sexual, and temporal differences between them, the two individuals were handled in strikingly similar ways by Western media: they were insistently identified as possessing characteristics of their originating national cultures, and their actions were subjected to a type of close scrutiny not applied to other cases of multiple-victim killers.

Using textual analysis, this paper will look at the media coverage expended on the cases of Andrew Cunanan and Seung-Hui Cho, using critiques of Orientalism initiated by Edward Said and developed by a number of non-Western theorists. The typical Western narrative used to explain actuations of Cunanan and Cho will be subjected to the question of whether this attitude toward Oriental Others insists on differentiating them rather than accepting their actions in the manner of their Western counterparts.

Keywords: Orientalism; Seung-Hui Cho; Andrew Cunanan; Yellow Peril; Asianness; perpetual foreigner; model minority; race and ethnicity; heteromasculinity; the monster

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