February 11, 2003
8739 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
We appreciate your cooperation in allowing us to speak with Ms. Steven in regards to “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”. If Ms. Steven is correct in answering our questions, this movie will not bode well with our organization and the Asian-American community at large.
The casting of John Cleese as Alex’s father leaves us confused and angered. Confused, because you infer that Lucy’s character (Alex) is half-Caucasian. This is problematic since it is obvious that Lucy Liu is not of mixed race. At the same time, it nullifies the wonderful statement you made by casting her in the first installment; her character is a strong Asian-American female, virtuous in her actions and not the least stereotypical. It was for these reasons we honored you with a MANAA Media Achievement Award two years ago.
But by casting John Cleese as her father in “Full Throttle,” you’ve negated these qualities and at the same time robbed the role from an Asian-American male actor. We probably need not emphasize to you that a serious lack of substantial roles for capable Asian-American male actors has rendered them nearly invisible in television and movies.
At the same time, we understand the novelty of a cameo, but we also believe that at the end of the day, no one is going to come to this movie to see John Cleese. You could have done so much more for a community of actors that needs all the help and support it can get if you hired an Asian male.
To make matters worse, the only parent that is a bonafide Asian, her Chinese mother, is an actress who is only seen twice: Once briefly in an insert of her picture, and another scene where she does not have a speaking line. In an E-mail that was sent to your assistant Anna, we clearly stated that we hope that the audience will clearly see that she inherited everything good about her from both sides of her family. We were let down.
Though it may be too late to re-cast John’s role, MANAA believes that there are some remedies to strengthen Lucy’s character as an Asian American. All it would take is a simple re-shoot, possible looping a few lines of an existing scene:
Keep her Asian
Do not make John Cleese her father by blood. Add a line, which establishes that she is adopted.
Strengthen the role of Lucy’s mother
Give Lucy’s mother a few lines that will not only make her character more than one-dimensional but show that Lucy was passed down some of her fine qualities from her mother.
On a separate note, we have received complaints about a recent episode of “Fastlane” entitled “Mighty Blue.” In this very derisive episode that aired on December 4, 2002, you depict an Asian gangster mentally and physically abusing, and eventually killing an Asian-American woman. In the same episode, we see another “evil” Asian male spit on the face of Tiffany Amber Thiessen’s Billie character.
These have been some of the most despicable and cowardly television portrayals we’ve seen lately. We are appalled that you could have allowed some of the most cartoonish and stereotypical characters to be churned out by the writers. You had the great opportunity to show an Asian-American male as one of the protagonists, but instead you chose to make them all evil and then feature an Asian female undercover cop in the typical role of the pretty little”China doll,” the object of Deaq’s and Van’s lust. Of course she has to fall for Bill Bellamy’s character, probably since Asian men are such big jerks or non-existent as you’ve made them out to be in both “Full Throttle” and “Fastlane.”
Mc G, we need to meet with you and discuss all of these concerns in person. Hopefully a face to face meeting will help explain some of your creative choices and provide steps in which both parties can take to improve this situation. We anxiously await your response.