What Happened after the Paramount Protest?

For those who want to know what’s been going on with Paramount and “The Goods” — Paramount sent a written apology to the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) right before the protest happened. Though the protest went on as planned, Paramount deserves some credit for actually responding with an apology, and a pretty well-written one at that (see below).

What’s really cool is Paramount and JACL agreed to have a meeting in the future. MANAA believes that not only will this be a chance to talk to Paramount about The Goods, but also The Last Airbender!

Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 14:42:24 -0700
To: <dc@jacl.org>
Subject: The Goods

Dear Mr. Mori:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding ‘The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.’ At Paramount, we take these concerns very seriously.

On behalf of the studio, I want to extend our sincerest apologies to the Japanese American Citizens League and the greater Asian-American community for the racially demeaning language used in scenes depicted in the film. While this film is intended to be an extreme satirical comedy, it was never the objective of the producers or the studio to single out any one group for ridicule or to promote hurtful, racially disparaging language. We genuinely regret the use of this language in the film.

We’ve discussed your concerns, at length, with the producers and we have discontinued online promotion of the red-band, age-gated trailer that depicts this scene. The general audience, green-band trailer has also been pulled out of theaters.

We appreciate you bringing to our attention the concerns of the Japanese-American community and the broader Asian-American community. We truly regret any anguish that this film may have caused. We assure you that this was never the intention of the producers or the studio.

At Paramount, we would welcome a continuing dialogue over the next several weeks with you and other leaders of the Asian-American community. Again, on behalf of Paramount and Paramount Vantage, we hope you accept our sincerest apologies.

Yours truly,
Adam Goodman

“The Goods” Protest

MANAA and other Asian American activist groups will be protesting the film ‘The Goods’ FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, at Paramount. From 4:30 to 6pm, Friday Aug 21 Paramount Studios 5555 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA We believe that the film condones the beating of Asian Americans and makes light of hate crimes. Visit http://manaa.blogspot.com for more info.

Asian American Coalition Protests Paramount and ‘The Goods’!

thegoods protest

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support us with our protest at Paramount. It was a stunning success, with over 40 protesters and of course lots of supportive horn honking and a few tv station trucks to boot.

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We rallied with cheers of “The Goods were rotten, that’s why no one bought them!” and “Your humor is tasteless, stop being racist!” Eric and Sylvia came up with some great chants and were great chant-leaders!

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Dariane from Racebending showed awesome support and helped to organize, which was great since Paramount is the studio behind the whitewashed “The Last Avatar” as well. We look forward to working with Dariane and all of the folks at Racebending on future activist endeavors!

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Floyd Mori, executive director of JACL, brought a squadron of protesters and was interviewed by Channel 7 News along with MANAA’s Guy Aoki.

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IW Group, Inc. also sent a huge group of supporters and as well as provided materials for the posters and space to create them.

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And boy did we have a lot of posters! Some favorites — “Hate Crimes Aren’t Funny” and “The Goods are Bad.”

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Thanks again for all the support, we think that Paramount is starting to get the picture now!

MANAA Condemns Asian-Bashing in ‘The Goods’ as Harmful, Not Funny

Los Angeles — A scene from Jeremy Piven’s new comedy “The Goods” has incensed Asian Americans, who find the beating of Ken Jeong’s character frighteningly reminiscent of real violence perpetrated against Asian Americans.

“MANAA contacted Paramount to request a chance to screen the film. We tried to give them the benefit of the doubt that seeing the whole movie could somehow salvage this scene. But we received no response,” said Phil Lee, President of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

The scene in question, which has been widely promoted in trailers, begins with Jeremy Piven riling up his car sales team by saying, “Don’t even get me started on Pearl Harbor — we are the Americans, and they are the enemy. Never again!” The other workers start shouting “Never again!” as the single Asian American, played by Jeong, joins in but looks nervous.Then the crowd turns on him and begins a violent assault that visibly injures him. Piven’s character also uses the racial slur “Japs” — an insult that goes doubly unpunished since Jeong later tells everyone he is Korean, as if the attack would be acceptable if only he were really Japanese.

While the scene is played for comedy, the threat of physical violence against Asian Americans is all too real. December 7, the day of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, is commonly dreaded by members of the Japanese American community and the wider Asian American community. Many Asian Americans have been subject to slurs and verbal assaults on this day, and there is a widespread fear that individuals who still harbor anger against the Japanese will erupt in physical violence.

The scene showing the beating of Ken Jeong by auto workers is also painfully evocative of the killing of Vincent Chin in 1982. Chin was a 27-year old Chinese auto worker in Michigan who happened to be at the same bar as two white auto workers who felt that the Japanese were to blame for the loss of their jobs. They beat him with a baseball bat, and he died from the injuries. The scene in the movie similarly confuses Japanese individuals from Japan with all individuals of Asian descent. Even so, this does not justify retributive violence for an event that occurred during a war nearly 70 years ago.

“MANAA believes that this scene should be removed from the trailers, and asks that Paramount apologize and acknowledge the concerns of our community,” said Lee. “The fact it is a comedy makes it worse, because the anti-Asian violence is downplayed as harmless. Playing a hate crime scene for laughs or satire doesn’t automatically protect it from being offensive.”

MANAA is the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and its depiction and coverage of Asian Americans.

Racist Caricature at Label’s Delicatessen

One version of Bruce Krakoff's offensive sign

One version of Bruce Krakoff’s offensive sign

 

A recent Chinese American visitor to Label’s Delicatessen in West Los Angeles was horrified to find a racist caricature advertising their chinese chicken salad, with the phrase “You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy our new dish.” He left the restaurant and called owner/manager Bruce Krakoff to ask that the sign be removed, but Krakoff stated that he was free to do whatever he liked in his store and would not remove the sign, which he also claimed that his customers loved.

This is unfortunate, because the caricature is evocative of anti-Chinese discrimination and violence from the turn of the century, when the image of the “coolie” represented an oppressed lower class that was systemically excluded from citizenship and civil rights in the United States because they were seen as alien. Given this history, it is by no means a harmless cartoon, and should not be used in this context.

Since then, the Anti-Defamation League and OCA have both sent letters to Krakoff, and as far as we know this sign can still be seen in the deli. The original complainant says that this is not the picture he saw, which was much more offensive, suggesting that there are multiple versions of the chicken salad advertisement.

MANAA would like to add their voice to the mix by requesting not only that all advertisements with racist caricatures be removed from the store, but also that Krakoff issue an apology to his customers.

Racial Caricature on Adidas HUF/TWIST sneaker

INCIDENT UPDATE: After their first press release, Adidas continued to receive negative response and pressure from those who found the shoe caricature offensive. On April 26, 2006, Adidas released another announcement that it would pull the remaining shoes from the marketplace.

At the March general meeting, MANAA members discussed the controversy over a new Adidas sneaker with a caricature of a buck toothed, slant-eyed Asian. The image is reminiscent of those used in late 1800s and WWII to spread anti-Asian American sentiment.

Adidas Yellowface

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Adam Carolla Offends Asian American Community Again

 

MANAA needs your help to call and write CBS Radio and urge the company to severely discipline syndicated radio host Adam Carolla for his most recent offensive comments against the Asian American community.


 

Dear MANAA Supporter:

We need your help. Our organization has sent more letters of complaint to Adam Carolla than anyone else in our history. He recently took the place of Howard Stern in six Western U.S. cities and, two weeks ago, made more highly offensive comments on his syndicated radio show. We need your help writing to key people within the CBS organization so please read the transcription below and hear the recording, which will be posted very soon, on our website www.manaa.org