Throughout Mr. Robot, we've seen protagonist in all colors and ethnicities. But for east Asians there have only been nerds, narcissistic villains, mask welding terrorists and manipulators throughout its many seasons. Why has this been accepted in the USA where equality is preached and why major movie critics are dodging this topic?

  • I marginally touced on this on another answer (I'll provide a link), but I think it's because the Chinese Goverment is one of the leaders on cyber securaty technology and that (by US standards) have questionable motives on the World Stage, which can be seen at times a threat. movies.stackexchange.com/questions/81733/… Nov 23, 2017 at 21:59
  • The other side could also have to do with American paranoya going back to communism and the red scare--but I'm behind on the series, so I am shooting in the dark without context. The following is also an interesting book I have been meaning to read: amazon.com/Operation-Shakespeare-Story-Elite-International/dp/… Nov 23, 2017 at 22:02
  • Why is it accepted - why wouldn't it be? It's fiction after all. So many anti-Russia and anti-other-things have been made in the past...
    – Luciano
    Sep 5, 2018 at 11:45
  • да, действительно, фильм сводится к тому, что какой-то китайский пидор все натворил и подставил иран. и еще в фильме китайцы припудрены японской идеей камикадзе. мораль фильма вобщем-то "китайское правительство - пидарасы". Oct 3, 2020 at 18:43
  • there are actually criminals and psychopaths of many ethnicities and races in Mr.Robot - I don't think that your conclusions are correct.
    – shabunc
    Apr 11, 2021 at 12:52

3 Answers 3


I'm not convinced that White Rose's plan is entirely evil, so your premise may be flawed. (Well, clearly the means by which they go about it is evil, but the characters may feel it's justified to right what they perceive as wrongs.) We don't yet know enough about what the ultimate goal is to say one way or the other. She's talked about undoing all the bad things that E-corp has done, so it could end up being that she (or China in general) is the hero in the end. We don't really know how Elliot ended up working with them and arranging the whole plan or what the whole plan is.

The other thing is that the antagonist needs to be an entity that can plausibly do the hacking that needs done, and that also plausibly would have a reason. Since the action takes place in the US, that means finding an adversary to the US or at least a US-based corporation. Likely candidates are Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China. Iran and North Korea are the least plausible of that group, considering that the plot requires the US to concede to allow the antagonist to annex the Congo (or any other nation for that matter). They also need a way for characters from that place to be able to freely move about in the US without suspicion. That's probably difficult for someone high up in the Iranian government and impossible for a North Korean.

So that leaves Russia and China. Back before it was revealed in real life that Russia was attempting to directly manipulate the US elections, China probably seemed like a more probable candidate and the writers probably thought it would be an easier sell.

That said, you are right that they don't appear to show any East Asian characters in a positive light. It's unfortunate, and is probably for the same reasons that other shows do the same thing - partly ignorance, partly biases (conscious or not) on the parts of the writers and creators. This is an ongoing problem in Hollywood, though there does appear to be some movement towards fixing it. Recent shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for example, show a hunky Asian man as the romantic lead. And a few years ago John Cho played the male lead in the TV show Selfie. Maybe this is the start of something bigger? We can hope.

As for why no critics mention it? Well, some have, both positively and negatively. It just depends on where you look.

  • I havent set on this idea until recent episodes (s3ep6), at this stage i think white rose is clearly evil (and narcissistic obviously), s3ep5 white rose executed a plan that killed thousands. To be fair season 1 also shown Hispanic and Swedes, but Tyrell's character developed well and the dealer was bad ass intimidating. I don't think plant villains warrants the excessive amount of de-humanizing, there's been no drama scenes from East Asians at all while the show is saying "trust us, it is they who are the Ventriloquist". Nov 30, 2017 at 7:55

My take on this has to do with real-life views.

First, I think that although there are lots of people in the United States who want equality, the reality is we are still fighting for it and arguing about what equality really is in a Democratic Republic and [some type of] Capitalist Nation. So Mr. Robot may be reflecting a real-life bias.

Second -- As I mentioned on an answer of a similar Chinese-related question, there is also a real-world truth in that China (as in the Chinese Government) is seen as one of the strongest nations in terms of cyber technology. Mr. Robot is a show about how corperations due to both advances in technology and buying off Governments creating loopholes in laws, makes some Corperations as powerful, if not in some cases, more powerful than a nation. It's a show in part about about corporate globalizationism through greed and cycber espionage.

China is a player on the world stage that the United States has worried about for a long time--going back to Cold War mantality with the fear of communism and [the second] The Red Scare and McCarthyism. I once heard Hillary Clinton state a few years ago, but more so in regards to Russia, that she thinks the Cold War never really ended--and I think there is a fair arguement that that's true in the sense that Cold War just changed it's face with computer technology becoming the new technology that could make or break a nation, such as the Russian interference in Brexit or the 2016 US Presidential Election---but also when you look at a nation like North Korea, clearly the threat of a Nuclear War is still imminent.

The reason I brought up North Korea was because recantly on CNN when it was discovered (or revealed to the public) that North Korea was working on their own H-bomb (hundreds to thousands times the punch of WWII H-bombs), it was also revealed that China and Russia helped them with this bomb! Analyst have discussed some reasons why China has helped North Korea with backdoor things in past, being echonomically important to China, but I have yet here anyone really discuss why they would help with this specifically---and/or really get into "how" they helped (ie: resources, materials)--and if it was a faction of the Chinese Government or Chinese-owned/sponcered company/affiliate??? I think the media, probably due to national security reasons and, perhaps, not clear enough intellegence, is never really forthcoming when talking about other nation's endgames...

There is also this book I have wanted to read titled, Operation Shakespeare: The True Story of an Elite International Sting.

A secret war. A daring sting operation. The great untold national security story of our time: “An impressive and important work…The book has the glamour of a spy novel and the gravity of a meticulously researched exposé” (Christian Science Monitor).

On today’s high-tech battlefields, the most lethal weapons are not the big ones, but rather the ones that are small enough to be smuggled inside a pack of chewing gum. Developed and manufactured in the United States at extraordinary cost, these tiny weapons of war—which can guide missiles, see through walls, and trigger anything from a wireless IED to a nuclear weapon—are what currently give the US its military advantage. Unfortunately, they are increasingly being discovered in the hands of our enemies.

In Operation Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize finalist John Shiffman tells the true story of an elaborate sting operation launched by an elite Homeland Security team that was created to stop Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea from stealing US military technology. The sting, codenamed Operation Shakespeare, targets an Iranian arms broker who works on behalf of Tehran. Over the course of three years, the American agents go undercover to outwit not only the Iranian, but US defense contractors and bankers willing to put profit over national security. The chase moves around the world, and as the United States tries to bring the Iranian to justice, his own government plots to assassinate him, fearful of what he might reveal.

Tenacious, richly detailed, and boasting unprecedented access to both the Iranian broker and the US agents who caught him, “Operation Shakespeare reads like a spy thriller—but Shiffman’s meticulous reporting leaves no doubt that he is telling nothing less than scary truth” (Daily News, New York). https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Shakespeare-Story-Elite-International/dp/1451655169

So although there might also be some more specific inverse reason why some of the Asian or Chinese characters are potrayed in a bias way, I'm a season behind so I don't have the context to give a stronger inverse answer, but it could be because they are cyber espionage Chinese agents, a rogue Chinese or Chinese-American(?) espionage company or crime syndacite, or it could just be a reflection about how the United States still worries about China and Chinese Interest-- and what their overall agenda is, which at times does seem like a threat to Democratic nations.


Your premise that it is “anti-Chinese” is flawed.

It is anti-China, which is very much different in a hard authoritarian regime where the government operates out of its own interest without regard to the self-determined interest of its people. That simple.

The series depicts very much the corruptible sides of the U.S. entity, as well. Grab a single point of weakness of the system, and you can get your interest through it by means of extortion. The show does not give much better credit to the U.S. government. Since the question, recently it has been revealed that China maintains informal global law enforcement primarily of its citizens and nationals, forcefully repatriating individuals abroad and engaging in transnational persecution.

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