I realize that when I point out how something as seemingly benign as the “won ton” font bugs me, readers might think I’m being petty and overly sensitive. But I hope those readers will respect my opinion if something does piss me off. Plus, I hope everyone can understand why certain things are just plain offensive to Asian Americans, not as a result of over-sensitivity but simply because they’re racist stereotypes.
It’s a cute idea at first: You break open a fortune cookie, and hear one of a series of pre-recorded fortunes.
The problem is the voice that reads the fortune is a fake Chinese accent — the kind I’ve heard all my childhood and even as an adult, when a racist taunts me. “Go back where you came from, Jap/Chink/Nip/Gook,” go the echoes in my head today.Asian Americans call it a “ching-chong” sound, a phony rendition of what a white person think is the sound of Chinese. Continue reading →
Sometimes, protesting works. It took about a week of buzz on the blogosphere to get the attention of Paramount Studios for the obnoxious racism disguised as satire in the trailer for the comedy starring Jeremy Piven, “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.”
The scene shows car salesmen worked up by the thought of Pearl Harbor being attacked by the Japanese and chanting “never again,” until they all pounce on an Asian character in the film. Piven’s character then tries to make light of the hate crime by trying to blame the Asian.
It’s a clumsy reprise of anti-Japanese sentiment from 70 years ago, with a scary flashback of the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, who was beaten to death by two Detroit autoworkers who thought he was Japanese (he wasn’t) and somehow directly responsible for them losing their jobs.
Well, enough outrage over this scene built thanks to coverage from Asian American blogs including Minority Militant, Angry Asian Man and 8Asians, that the JACL released a statement expressing outrage a couple of days ago, and several national organizations announced a protest yesterday. (There were also letters of protest sent around by individuals like actor Ken Narasaki and Soji Kashiwagi.)
The protest was held yesterday, and though I haven’t noticed if national mainstream media had picked up on the issue, Paramount has heeded the protest. A little while ago, I received this email from JACL:
PARAMOUNT APOLOGISES TO THE JACL
Los Angeles — The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation’s largest and oldest Asian American civil rights and community advocacy organization, welcomed Paramount Pictures’ apology for “racially demeaning language” in its recently released film, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Continue reading →
Towards the end of the trailer are two segments showing an Asian character played by Ken Jeong. In the first scene, which we’ve seen in the G-rated TV version of the trailer, he opens a bank bag a customer paid him for a car, and his face gets covered in the blue dye they put in stolen money. Ha ha, make fun of the short Asian dude who can’t catch a clue. I can live with that, though it makes me squirm a bit.
In the second scene, which ends the R-rated version of the trailer, Piven’s character, an uber-salesman, is motivating the sales force (which includes Jeong’s character) by citing Pearl Harbor.
“The Japs… flying in low and fast,” he says. “We are the Americans, and they are the enemy.” Huh? Is this about the art of war applied to the art of sales? Or is it about Japanese cars vs. American cars?
“Pearl Harbor. Never again! Pearl Harbor. Never again!,” Piven screams and gets the others to yell along, even the Asian guy. But one of the older Caucasian guys starts eyeing the Asian guy and then shouts, “Let’s get him!” A free for all ensues, and all the salesmen kick and pummel the Asian guy. Continue reading →
Sigh. First Miley Cyrus, now a Jonas Brother — coincidentally, another Disney music and movie star — pulls his eyes back in a stereotypical slant for a photo.
Some people might wonder what the big deal is. It’s just a funny face (Cyrus, for one denied that it was mocking Asians at all).
All I know is, I grew up with (white) kids making the same face to me: leering, making buck-teeth smiles, pulling their eyes back and saying “Ah-so!” and laughing crazily like they’d just done something really clever.
It wasn’t cute or funny then, and it isn’t cute or funny now.
It made me sick to my stomach as a kid who felt disempowered, and seeing famous (white) people doing it now brings all the bile right back up again. Continue reading →
From Angry Asian Man: Miley Cyrus, the super popular teen pop star for her Hannah Montana song-and-dance act (she’s also the daughter of country singer Billy Ray “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus), is shown with a group of friends in a photo making the rounds online, pulling back her eyes in a “chinky” or “slanty-eye” pose.
What’s a young Asian American girl supposed to think when she sees the photo? That she deserves to be the butt of racial stereotypes? Or a young European American girl? That it’s perfectly fine to make fun of people who don’t look like you? Continue reading →