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Asian Airhead

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"If Regina is the sun / Then I'm a disco ball
'Cause I'm just as bright and fun / If you've had alcohol!"

"Fool me seven times, shame on you, fool me eight or more times, shame on me."
Amy Wong, Ph.D, Futurama

A stereotype used in various media, growing to prominence in The '90s and the Turn of the Millennium. More or less, the Asian equivalent of a Dumb Blonde.

The idea is this: you have Alice, who is of some East Asian ethnic group or another, usually the princess of an affluent immigrant business (or crime) family (many of the examples are rather specifically Chinese, with a distinctly Chinese last name), Alice is beautiful, photogenic, popular... but she's also vain and petty and dumber than a box of hair. Used as the de facto villain or the Alpha Bitch most of the time or if not as the dim witted sidekick for a major character, she is almost always contrasted by other characters who are demonstrably smarter, more capable, and less easily manipulated. Never the main character but sometimes a sympathetic one, Alice will at best be reduced to a running gag, and at worst portrayed as a villain.


The stereotype occurs in two types:

  1. Type One: "The Tipton", with the character of London Tipton from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody being the most prominent example. This is the combination of the Alpha Bitch with this stereotype: A pretty, popular, usually rich Asian girl fawned after by boys but presented as being vain and petty at the same time.
  2. Type Two: "The Cutie", a more benign, less in-your-face version of this with the Alpha Bitch qualities largely or totally removed. This leaves only the looks, money and popularity, and the stupidity which is made more excessive. The character in this case is neither unattractive nor unpopular, nor is she socially inept, so to make her bad qualities obvious she is made dim, easily manipulated, and largely incapable of handling herself without assistance.

Note: male examples of this are tremendously rare. It is almost Always Female.

Compare with The Ditz and Valley Girl. Often the preferred type of Asian girls of fictional White guys.

Contrast with the usual "nerdy" portrayal of Asians in media, which this trope usually inverts (with some overlap), and Dragon Lady. Also contrast The Ojou and Yamato Nadeshiko, who generally tend to be smart and rich (and usually pleasant in personality.) Compare to Brainless Beauty (Type Twos), the Alpha Bitch and Rich Bitch (Type Ones).


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Type One

    Comic Books 
  • In The Ultimates, Janet van Dyne is now half-Chinese, unlike her mainstream counterpart. While she was a brilliant scientist, her life and relationship choices were often ill-advised, to put it charitably. Ultimates 3 saw her devolve into a superpowered high-school queen bitch, minus the high-school. (Although somewhere along the line the artists seemed to forget that this version of the character wasn't white.)

  • An early example is Linda Low from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song - she's something of an antagonist in that she's a vampy Gold Digger who is juggling two men on the side. She's also something of an Unbuilt Trope as she's still shown as a likable character who gets a happy ending. Oh and since the entire cast is Asian, she's hardly the only representation. Her actress Nancy Kwan also liked to point out that sexual depictions of Asian women was usually in the form of the evil Dragon Lady - so Linda actually "broke stereotype" at the time.note 
  • Crazy Rich Asians: Amanda fits the Alpha Bitch qualifications. She's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing that appears friendly to Rachel but pulls a horrible prank on her as soon as her guard is down.
  • Bibi from the 2014 movie "The Coed and the Zombie Stoner". A college student so stupid she apparently forgot her own name while she was spelling it out.

  • A borderline example is Jennifer Chen in the Spy High series by A.J. Butcher, who isn't too concerned with popularity (as her school is a training ground for professional spies) but is portrayed as vain and self-obsessed, more so than So Beautiful, It's a Curse Lori.
  • Taylor from the Gone series. Her name is generic, but the first thing that the main characters notice about her is that she is Asian. She is rich enough for her parents to have sent her to Coates Academy, an exclusive boarding school for problem kids. She doesn't play a big part in the first two books, and seems to be a generic, slightly annoying, and airheaded girl. In book 3, she often acts rude to the other characters, considers that her powers would make her an excellent thief, and schemes about how to win Sam's affection while he's fighting with Astrid. Penny, the new Dark Action Girl from Lies, could also count. She also has a generic first name with no surname, but she is specified as being Chinese. She also went to Coates, and is therefore from a wealthy family, plots to steal the Caine's affection from Diana, and seems to be cruel but not very smart.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, resident Camp Half-blood Alpha Bitch Drew Tanaka plays this trope very straight. She acts like the typical queen bee, with the rest of the similarly (at least at that point) shallow Aphrodite cabin as her posse. While not totally stupid, she's still a bitch.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brenda Song:
    • London Tipton from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. A beautiful, rich, popular young girl... who just happens to be dense as a brick. It turns out that the role was not written for an Asian girl, as it's supposed to be a parody of Paris Hilton. In fact, Ashley Tisdale was originally going to play London with Brenda Song in the Maddie role, but they ended up being switched because the girls played the parts better. This is referenced in the alternate dimension episode, where the girls are their original intended roles. London originally started out as simply being a lazy rich kid who didn't like school or work, however she was flanderized into being increasingly more ignorant as time went on. In later seasons she is a Brainless Beauty who Never Learned to Read.
    • Brenda Song basically plays this part in every Disney Channel show she's ever worked on. She played a vaguely competent person in her own movie Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, who still ended up blowing off saving the world in favor of being crowned 'Homecoming Queen', although she eventually saw the light after a very mild metaphorical slap across the face. She wasn't too stupid in Stuck in the Suburbs either. Her breakout role on Nickelodeon's One Hundred Deeds For Eddie Mc Dowd had her in the other stereotypical Asian role.
    • Her character in The Social Network is basically an Asian Airhead with Cute and Psycho tendencies.
  • On the show Salute Your Shorts, the de facto queen bitch of camp, was Dina Alexander. Played by Chinese-American actress Heidi Lucas, she was in effect a mirror image of London Tipton years before the latter character was created. Dim witted, easily manipulated, vain and yet also universally considered beautiful and popular by her peers. Also a Rich Bitch, she gets some minor development on a pity date with the hoggish Butt-Monkey of the show. Subverted in that she's not a total Alpha Bitch and lacks prominently Asian features or even an Asian surname.
  • Anna Maria Perez de Tagle has this in her resume when she started. A list of her characters with this trope:
    • The show Cake gives us Miracle, a young Filipino girl, gorgeous, glamorous, and of course stupid. Also the Rich Bitch.
    • Ashley Dewitt on Hannah Montana. Basically the same character, but much stupider, with a different name.
    • Her Camp Rock character, Ella. It's a miracle there haven't been mass protests at Disney yet.
  • Cheerleader Candy Cho from Shake it Up, although she is popular and ditzy, she beat Rocky out for the acadamic achievement award.
  • Sui Blake from One World.
  • Piper Bauman from Married... with Children, Kelly's rival in the competition for a Allente car spokesperson.
  • Courtney Crimson from 13 Reasons Why - though she's more of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who is nonetheless very obsessed with upholding an image of perfection. Including hiding that she's actually a lesbian.
  • A season one episode of Blackish has Kyra Kang Nussbaum, who is mentioned to be a super senior. Zoe helps Junior hook up with her, believing it will help boost his popularity. However, Kyra instead uses Junior to edit together an audition tape for The Bachelor.

  • Millionaires, a concept group, is made up of real life half-Asian sisters, Melissa Marie Green and Allison Green. The characters they portray in their lyrics are super materialistic, rich, vain, ditsy, and proudly slutty.

  • Ashley Park as Gretchen Wieners in the original Broadway cast of Mean Girls provides the page image, and is one of the main popular girls (though interestingly, she also identifies as Jewish). She spends most of her energy trying to please Regina George and weasel secrets out of people, but turns on Regina hard when she is lead to believe she's been replaced. While Gretchen is often the Straight Man to the even more air-headed Karen Smith, and shows more self-conscious vulnerability than the norm for this trope, this is still the same Gretchen who is trying to make "Fetch" happen.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Subverted with Mackenzie Zales; despite being a Type One of this tropenote , she's one of the sanest and smartest characters in the entire show.
  • The selling point behind World of Wonder's WAIT, WHAT? which features RuPaul's Drag Race alums Gia Gunn and Kimora Blac as they get quizzed on various topics that they missed out on in school.

    Western Animation 
  • Savannah Shane from All Grown Up!, who is a Chinese-American Alpha Bitch and Angelica's rival.
  • American Dad! has a rare male variant with Vince Chung.
  • Tammy from Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures.
  • Trixie Tang from The Fairly OddParents. Trixie is universally considered to be beautiful in-universe, is wealthy and also wildly popular amongst the other characters, especially fawned after by boys. But she is also shown to be extremely vain, venal and insecure, needing constant re-assurance of her appearance, her catchphrase being "Tell me I'm pretty!" spoken in a pleading voice that sounds as if she's near tears. This is, in effect, nearly the textbook example of the stereotype.note  This was subverted in early seasons where she was a Closet Geek who was nicer than she let on, but flanderization happened and she lost her positive traits.
  • By her own admission Cassandra of High School U.S.A. is 100% Chinese. She's also about 300% vapid, self-important moron. Fortunately (for men) she's very attractive. Subverted when it was revealed that her parents were actually Americans who moved to China to pick up their old manufacturing jobs who then applied permanent skin coloring and plastic surgery on their daughter to make her appear to be Chinese.
  • Brittney Wong from Star vs. the Forces of Evil.
  • Gwen Wu from The Mighty B! is Portia's Beta Bitch.

Type Two

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Grunge, a Chinese-American California surfer/skater/slacker dude, was presented as an extremely rare male version of this at the beginning of Gen¹³. He tested well in school, however, thanks to his Photographic Memory.
  • While not stupid, Jubilee (Marvel Comics) of the X-Men suffers dyscalculia, averting the "Asians as math geniuses" stereotype.
  • Robert Lai, a Chinese-American slacker who had trouble figuring out how to keep his mouth shut and managed to blow-up the chem lab at school after failing to listen to directions, was friends and classmates with Superboy when he was going to school in Hawaii.
  • The Boys: The Female's mother (according to The Female) was an utter airhead who happened to work for a Japanese company trying to recreate Compound V. When The Female fell into a vat of the stuff, she thinks that the company took her away from her mother with a subscription to a fashion magazine.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mean Girls:
    • At the end, the members of the primary Girl Posse, the Plastics, have broken up. In the case of Gretchen, she finds herself a new Girl Posse composed of stylish Asian girls. The last scene shows Gretchen ass-kissing in Vietnamese.
    • The Asian girls who had a Cat Fight after finding out they were both secretly sleeping with the coach. The movie also noted that "Asian nerds" and "cool Asians" were separate cliques at that school.
  • Knives Chau from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World though it is probably mostly to emphasize her youth.
  • The Hangover: An antagonistic and uncommon male version of this trope, Leslie Chow (played by Ken Jeong) counts.
  • Minor character Gwennie Lee from The World of Suzie Wong who is more innocent than actually ditzy. Ironically she's the only one of the Asian girls who wears glasses.
  • Crazy Rich Asians:
    • Araminta is a Genki Girl who is so consumed by excitement over her own wedding that she fails to notice how rotten some of her friends are being to Rachel. She also Squees as she announces one feature of her bachelorette party - an all-expenses paid shopping spree.
    • Kitty is a terrible actress who gets parts in films because she's the producer's girlfriend. She's also not very bright, and is seen ditching her boyfriend for his brother as soon as she hears he's the sole heir to the family fortune.
  • White Wolves II: The Filipino Steve has some wariness and respect for the wilderness, but also gets some Literal-Minded and Skewed Priorities moments. When Beri makes a crack about breaking out a guitar to sing campfire songs, he thinks she means they have a real guitar. More dramatically, he fails to bury food scraps far from the camp, which attracts a bear.

  • Claudia Kishi of The Baby-Sitters Club is crafty/artsy but has problems with grades, in contrast with her Asian and Nerdy older sister Janine. In The Movie, she has to go to summer school and is shown to be unable to remember the digestive system. In most of the books, though, it's indicated that while Claudia isn't very good at school, she is, in fact, intelligent. Mostly. Spelling, one of her defining not-too-bright traits, improved for awhile, before plummeting to near elementary-school-levels in the later books, to the point that it became a fandom joke.
  • Exploited in The Girl from the Miracles District when Nikita alters her appearance and acts like an airhead to fool her target and let her get close to him.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch novel The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing, when a reporter is taken aback to find the current Dalai Lama is a teenage girl who talks like a Valley Girl and says she doesn't follow the news, but by the end the reporter has decided she probably does have the wisdom you'd expect of the Dalai Lama, just an unusual way of showing it.

    Live-Action TV 

     Web Animation 


    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, we have Francine's unseen adoptive sister Gwen; Stan's constantly going on about how hot she is (even recalling how beautiful she looked on Francine's wedding day) and her parents favor her...but they openly admit that it's because she's an idiot who needs all the help she can get, while Francine is smart and clever enough to take care of herself. As Francine's father put it: "I mean can you believe it? An Asian girl who can't do math?!" However, this is later retconned when she appears in the show. Aside from lighting a cigarette in a gas-soaked room and failing math in high school, she's actually quite intelligent, cunning, and manipulative.
  • Bridgette in Close Enough is a Japanese-American social media influencer from a rich family, which is fortunate because her singing career with Emily is a failure and she can't hold a job more complex than clothing store employee.
  • Code Lyoko: One-off background character Naomi Nguyen, though we aren't given any hints that she's Asian within the show (the last name is only present in show notes, and she doesn't look remotely Asian).
  • Kuki Sanban (a.k.a. Numbuh 3) of Codename: Kids Next Door is effectively like a younger, prepubescent Hay Lin. An adorable, girly, kindhearted, rather prissy Japanese girl who is personified as being extremely scatterbrained. But she has a fair share of kick butt moments that even it out. The finale shows that she is really a Stepford Smiler and her peppy personality is mostly an act, however Numbuh 3 still officially caused problems for her team due to ignorance such as in episodes "Operation: NO-POWUH" and "Operation: SPANK". Of note is that she was voiced by Lauren Tom, the same actress who provides the voice for Amy Wong in Futurama. In fact, one of the only young, popular characters she voices that doesn't fit into this trope in some manner is Kahn "Connie" Souphanousinphone, Jr. from King of the Hill. In a twist of irony, Numbuh 3 claims that she's not an airhead in the series finale "Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S" but she could have been sarcastic / joking. If not, then she's oblivious to her own abnormal behavior.
  • Tiffany, a member of the Fashion Club on Daria. She was by far the least offensive or hostile of the group, but that's more because she has absolutely no motivation or ability to form her own opinions. She's, of course, jaw-dropping gorgeous, and popular amongst her male peers for obvious reasons. She has no actual characterization: she just agrees with whatever her friends tell her to. She was also the dumbest character of the Fashion Club; she, literally, agreed with whoever spoke last, lost her place on a piece of paper three sentences in, and just so you know, that isn't how fast she speaks, that's how fast she thinks. She also scored the lowest out of her friends on the PSATs at a lackluster 902 when most colleges will typically only accept 1200 points or higher.
  • Lee Lee, one of Dee Dee's friends in Dexter's Laboratory. Though, to be fair, she just has the exact same personality as Dee Dee and all her other friends.
  • Amy Wong of Futurama fame. Basically the second-most archetypal example, particularly of Type Two. Literally every male character makes note of how good-looking she is, she's richer than God, and well-liked by everyone. She acts so ditzy that it's easy to forget that she was introduced as a graduate student in applied physics (and eventually gets her PhD.)
    Professor Farnsworth: I'm sure I don't need to explain that all dark matter in the universe is linked in the form of a single non-local meta-particle.
    Amy: Guhh! Stop patronizing us.
  • Ami of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is the girly, sweet, distinctly moe-moe half of a two-girl singing group. She's the fun, happy, friendly one who dresses and is a Japanese idol singer. She's supposed to be the "stupid one". (Note, however, that Yumi is also a Japanese idol singer.)
  • Male example: Texas from Motorcity. The creators say he's Filipino.
  • Stacy Hirano, Candace's best friend from Phineas and Ferb, sometimes fits this trope, but she usually averts it. Stacy does show a keen interest in things like fashion and romance, and she appears to be Book Dumb (since she thinks the pyramids are in France), but she's often the Straight Man to Candace's neurotic mania. She gets easily distracted when trying to bust Phineas and Ferb for Candace, but that's mainly because she realizes there's no real point in doing so; given another task, she's far more sane and rational than Candace. (Also of note: Stacy's mother is a doctor, and apparently she'll grow up to be the President of Uruguay.)
    (Stacy suggests Candace should focus her attention on where the inventions go)
    Candace: Stacy, you're a genius!
    Stacy: Thanks. Could you call my mother and tell her that?
  • Younghee Mandlebom a Korean student/classmate of Leonard Helperman from Teacher's Pet.
  • Rare Male Example in Danny Phantom: Kwan (is that his first name or his last name?) is Dash's friend and was initially shown as being a Jerk Jock like him, but became more of a dumb Token Good Teammate of the popular kids as time went on. Interestingly, the Bad Future shown in "The Ultimate Enemy" seems to have him grow up to be a scientist, so he may switch to that other stereotype when high school popularity is no longer a factor.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Lillian, who appears to be of East Asian descent, seems to be this, but it's downplayed for the most part. In "The Grandest Canyon" she doesn't know what "perspective" means, and in "Mindy Turns Five", she outright tells Mindy what she got her for her birthday instead of keeping it a surprise like she said she would. In "Fact or Fiction?", she legitimately believes that clouds are made of cotton candy. Why? Because someone at school told her so.