You Complain. We Crumble.


The following statement has been posted on the Fox Movie Channel website:

Fox Movie Channel will discontinue the broadcast of the Charlie Chan mystery films. Originally restored to meet the requests of mystery fans and film preservation buffs, Fox Movie Channel scheduled these films in a showcase intended to illustrate the positive aspects of these movies such as the complex story lines/ characters and Charlie Chan's great intellect . . . However, Fox Movie Channel has been made aware that the Charlie Chan films may contain situations or depictions that are sensitive to some viewers. Fox Movie Channel realizes that these historic films were produced at a time where racial sensitivities were not as they are today. As a result of the public response to the airing of these films, Fox Movie Channel will remove them from the schedule. In the hope that this action will evoke discussion about the progress made in our modern, multicultural society, we invite you to please click CONTACT US to send us your thoughts on the matter.

Link Via actualmalice.

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  1. How does not showing the films promote discussion among those (like me) who haven’t seen them? And how many members of the public really complained? Was it just a few or (more likely) some organized interest group willing to publically shame FMC?

  2. My favorite cable channel, Turner Classic Movies, broadcasts these movies without any excisions. One of them actually had Charlie Chan onscreen with Steppin Fetchit, which I suppose is the racist’s equivalent to teaming up Superman with Batman, Dracula with Frankenstein, or Domingo with Pavarotti.

    Offensive? Yes, but it’s also part of our history, and I’m glad it’s there for those of us who happen to be interested in the past.

  3. Shame on FOX – caving in to the ignorant.

    Anyone who thinks that applying the moral
    standards of today retroactively to persons
    or cultural artifacts of the past means
    something should have their university
    degree taken away, at the least.

    Jeff Smith

  4. Oh — and Charlie Chan on Broadway is actually a decent movie.

  5. Fox News pilloried Turner over its (since rescinded, I believe) canceling of Speedy Gonzalez on Turner’s Cartoon Network. It’s surprising to see Fox’s movie channel knuckle under so easily to pressure.


  6. Weird — Just last night I was watching Fox News, and this really long Charlie Chan commercial came on, and I thought, “What the living hell is THIS all about?” Fox News is hardly your go-to source for cable movie ads to begin with, so it’s noticeable when *any* movie series gets big billing, let alone one that features an old-school caricature of a Wacky Asian.

    That said, it’s totally goofy to pull the movies.

  7. As always with these kinds of acts of self-censorship, the loss is not only of old-school caricatures but of interestingly inexplicable characterizations in-between. Keye Luke’s hip, jazz-loving Number One Son was a supercool and totally positive character, and probably the first totally with-it ABC ever shown on the big screen. Without these movies, audiences will now only remember Keye Luke as the wise old shopkeeper in Gremlins-an old school caricature if ever there was one.

  8. Some people are offended by the spin on FOX News, but they aren’t taking that off the air.

  9. Does this mean I have to give up my Cherry Chan candies too? This is all very disturbing, I thought the Supreme Court said last week that it was okay to discriminate against Asian, shouldn’t we be able to stereotype them as well?

  10. Where’s all the people who complain when someone blogs about something a private business does? Do they finally understand that there’s a difference between disagreeing with a private decision and saying the government should prevent it? Or do they only complain when the private decision being lampooned is conservative rather than liberal?

  11. So will Foxx dare to show Sweet Sweetback?

  12. tim,
    What is ABC?
    Anything but Caucasian?
    Asian bilingual character?
    Angry bitching Chinese?

  13. Warren,

    According to a quick Google search I made, I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong, Tim) it stands for “American-born Chinese”.

    First time I’ve heard it as well–I guess I’m out of the loop on all the new, hip TLAs these days.


  14. Murdoch’s wife probably complained.

  15. Whatever happens I hope Cartoon Network keeps showing The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. That’s quality animation.

    (If you’ve never seen it, think Jabberjaw but with a chinese guy and some chinese kids solving mysteries).

  16. And ABCD is the Indian diaspora equivalent: American Born Confused Desai — Desai being, I understand, Hindi for “person”.
    This being what I learned from my g-school officemate, a self-identified PIG, for Poor Indian Grad student.

  17. Oh yeah, and the kids have a band and they play that groovy rock n’ roll stuff the kids are into nowadays. Like Jabberjaw had a band too.

  18. ABC = American Born Chinese

    Often ABCs, if they are “Americanized,” are labelled with the following deragatory epithet – “banana.” Yellow on the outside, and white on the inside. An “egg” is the exact opposite; a Chinofile as it were, white on the outside, and yellow on the inside. Having lived with numerous Asian-Americans I can tell you these terms are bandied around quite a lot.

  19. “banana” went away in the early 90’s, it’s “twinkie,” now. Christ you people are old.

  20. anyone see “bamboozled”? Defective narrative as with all Spike(tm)Lee movies but some of the footage is incredible as well as the updated versions of tap & blackface.

    It’s amazing to see how, despite the painful stereotyping, censorship, propoganda, etc., certain performers are able to create such amazing, hell highly personal yet unique yet universal artistic characters. Sure Louis A. did it in a “higher” form, but we really shouldn’t miss Chan, vaudeville, etc.

  21. hey Anon@12:37.

    i’d have to disappoint you. i’m usually asking others to explain stuff to me. and as a straight white male, i’m not sensitive to anything, nor do i comprehend such sensitivities.

    however, since i am from NE ohio, i do take exception to your use of “yokel”. we perfer “soiled fingernail-americans”. okay?


  22. 1) No one’s talking about requiring anything. I guess voicing one’s opinion about a product ceases to be acceptable among libertarians when they hold a differing opinion.

    2) Are your really comparing patriotism to racial prejudice?

  23. “2) Are your really comparing patriotism to racial prejudice?”

    Comment referred to: “The pro-war, unquestioningly patriotic feel of many post WWII movies…”

    So I believe the answer is “no”.

  24. What the fuck do Oliver Reaction and that Nameless mean? What is “neo con propaganda”? Oh. he was trying to be funny. ja fer sher. funny. and He has never seen “Passage to Marsailles” if he wants propaganda. or “Wake Island”. Go take a walk on the beach and play some chess.

  25. Fox caving in on the Charlie Chan movies is nothing new. The private media companies have been caving in to political correctness for years.

    There are certain 3 Stooges shorts that are not shown, Disney will not allow Song of the South to be shown, some of the Warner Bros Bugs Bunny cartoons made during WW2 are not shown, the list goes on and on.

  26. gotta give the frenchies credit for not getting so uptight about this crap. Anyone seen Asterix lately? Wow. That’s some serious nationalistic, racist shit.

  27. For what it’s worth, the expression “banana” to refer to someone that “acts white” (whatever exactly that means) is not limited to Asian-Americans; nor is the term ABC limited in use to the same. Both are quite common in Taiwanese Chinese discourse, and to a lesser extent in mainland Chinese talk too.

    Of course, these terms don’t have quite the same ring of self-righteous vitriol outside the US.

    Regarding Charlie Chan: I think anyone who is offended by them should consider the depictions of Chinese people in Chinese TV and other media. These can often veer quite close (very very very close) to what, in the US, might be called stereotyping etc. Of course, the actor would be Chinese, so maybe it’s all right then.

  28. david f wrote:

    “what do you suggest for handling such films (Charlie Chan, Green Lantern, maybe the show “Kung Fu”)?”

    I think you mean “Green Hornet”, which featured the character of Kato, the Green Hornet’s Japanese manservant/sidekick. (Played by Bruce Lee in the TV series!)

  29. correct! thanks, Jack!


  30. How do you know the “situations or depictions” referred to are about the Chinese characters. The movies were made around the time of WWII and depicted Nazis very negatively. Maybe they’re being sensitive to Nazis.

  31. good response to public sensitivities, tho’ I get the sense that some people are just oversensitive about things..

  32. oh, now they listen.

    they refused to listen to my complaints when i argued that “The Producers” produced a mockery of our f?hrer. he NEVER, NEVER said, “baby”.

    shocked. shocked i am!

    and they never told us that gambling was going on here. oh well. complaints never amount to a hill of beans.

    in need of more coffee,

  33. does this mean that mickey rooney’s character in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is right out, too?

    for shame. they bought their tickets. they knew what they were in for.

  34. Two Wongs don’t make it white!

  35. Guess Mr Magoo won’t be shown any time soon on Fox either – poked fun at the visually impaired and also his buck-toothed english-impaired chinese servant.

    Pretty hillarious if you haven’t seen it in a while…say 20 years.

  36. Idiot!

    Ruin famous mushroom joke!

  37. It’s tough to realize how racist, sexist, etc. our culture used to be without watching media artifacts like this. The way female characters were manipulated, abused, etc. in Hollywood in the 30s and 40s movies is a bad joke. What’s interesting is how normal everything seems for 20-30 minutes, and then – BAM – little black Sambo is the waiter in the restaurant and you think you’re at a Klan rally – and then he exits, and everything’s back to normal without batting an eye. It’s enlightening.

  38. hey Joe!

    your note about Sambo was a nice comparison there. yes, watching or seeing Sambo is an uncomfortable experience. However, realizing that these thoughts were acceptable back then show an evolution that is an important part of the culture.

    Looking at how james bond treats women in earlier films is archaic and strange to our eyes today. another example is from Sixteen Candles (one of my favorites) — and think about this from high school days: molly ringwald’s character calls AM Hall’s “a fag”. that was a usual insult back then. now it is unacceptable. although that word would be bleeped out on TV – not on cable – seeing that evolution in 17-18 years is impressive. Or look at Billy Chrystal’s character in “Soap”. is that as bad/ mean/ evil or naive as Kato (for example)?

    what do you suggest for handling such films (Charlie Chan, Green Lantern, maybe the show “Kung Fu”)? I don’t think you’d be for banning the films (and thereby ignoring any problem), because you do take these on head-on, but, dammit, you succeeded (again) in looking at this issue from an angle i wouldn’t do straight away.

    but even the character of Sam from casablanca is open to revision — the musical, obediant vallet/singer. that’s a pretty shallow character. would objections to that character be on the same level?


  39. I’m not big on banning things, but I would like to see some context provided. MST3K-style, Pop-Up Videos-style, or Dinner-and-a-Movie-style. The stereotyping in old movies is so dramatic that to let it pass unremarked is a de facto endorsement.

  40. i think all us yokels should only be allowed to watch movies with minorities in them if joe & david are sitting next to us to explain the demeaning and insensitive aspects of each scene.

  41. another example is from Sixteen Candles (one of my favorites) — and think about this from high school days: molly ringwald’s character calls AM Hall’s “a fag”. that was a usual insult back then. now it is unacceptable.

    The movie also includes an Asian stereotype way more offensive than anything in any Charlie Chan movie…

  42. The pro-war, unquestioningly patriotic feel of many post WWII movies is so dramatic that I find it to be a de facto endorsement of the neocon propaganda machine. AMC should be compelled to air disclaimers to let people know that this isn’t how sensitive, rational people think anymore.

  43. for the people who posted in the beginning about how ‘political correctness’ has cut into plain old entertainment; how today’s attidude should not be used to judge/define retrospective films/books/media:

    the problem w/airing the charlie chan series, or anyother films that depict people of color in an inaccurate offensive way, is that even today there is not enough films or portrayle in the media that allow the public to view the many different aspects of a certain population, and thus know that a single streotype cannot be used to view any group. it’s a different situation from white women in the past films. i think someone questioned whether this ‘political correcteness’ should extend to all the old classic movies, where techinically nobody is politically correct. ex: with the depiction of sexualized white women in the films of the 30’s and 40’s and in bond films, enough(though some think not) films have been made w/women since that people know that not all women are sexual toys, stay at home moms etc. the public sees that (white)women can be mean, sweet, butch, fem, gay, straight, fat thin, etc etc. BUT not enough asian films have been made so the public is aware that not all asians are either kung fu masters/massage palor girls/studious/passive. running those old racist films will only perpetuate the negative stereotypes, since not much progess has been made in depicting more people of color in the media.

  44. Unus multorum – One of many. (Horace)

  45. Ab imo pectore – From the bottom of the chest (from the heart)

  46. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/20/2004 01:08:09
    Friendship make prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.

  47. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 04:22:46
    Reality is not affected by our apprehension of it.

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