Ministry of Funny Squawks

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The Media Action Network for Asian Americans is decrying John Cleese's role in Charlie's Angels 2 as "hurtful," though I suspect their reasons differ from mine.

As Alex's biological father, Cleese is simply preposterous in the role. [Lucy] Liu is clearly a full-blooded Asian and couldn't convincingly be half-white.

One hopes the genetic omniscients at MANAA will soon provide Hollywood with a handy list of "full-blooded" Asian actors and the more convincingly half-white; if nothing else than to see them try to classify Tommy Chong.

(Link via L.A. Observed.)

NEXT: Tear Down This Statue!

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  1. Now I know why the left the parents out of “Better Luck Tomorrow”
    (A recent movie about Asian-American teens, which for some inexplicable reason never has any adults on screen)

  2. How about we pick 30 or 40 people at random off the streets of Honolulu and see if these geniuses can pick out the “full-blooded Asians.” What a load of crap!

  3. Miss Liu will be half white when I’m done with her.

  4. What are they complaining about? Tiger Woods obviously hired an Asian actress to play his mom, he’s obviously full-blooded African-American.

  5. Ooooo, Matt Felchy-Squelchy decides to get snarky by referencing the half-baked Chong mongrel because he can’t make it with the slint-eyed Chink’s Angel. Welched again.

  6. When that day arrives …

    It seems that only when the art of morphing goes live — when humans can finally do to their faces what they do in movies like Star Trek, Mission Impossible, or Michael Jackson videos — only then will such nonsense ever stop.

  7. Rubberface, then I suppose Michael Jackson was the first guinea pig for such technology, wasn’t he.

  8. I’m sure the caucasian equivalent of MANAA would be angry too if a film hired an Asian woman to be the mother of ex-SNLer Rob Schneider. Except, of course, that the mother of Rob Schneider IS Asian. http://www.mixedfolks.com/aactors.htm

  9. Let me point out something here. How often do you see Asian-Americans on TV/in the movies? In particular, how often do you see one in a non-stereotyped role? So, where you see a harmless casting choice, they see an America that still hasn’t accepted them as “real” Americans.

    Can you blame the group for attempting to make that point? Well, I guess you already have. But, good job in opening the door for the racists.

  10. I know a teenaged girl who looks fully Japanese, and yet is a mutt (her term): half Japanese, half Jewish-American.

    Poppycock and nonsense. You can just never tell.

  11. If this keeps up …

    http://www.mixedfolks.com/aactors.htm

    …what will the world look like in the year 3000?

  12. What’s all this, then? I thought the days of phrenology were over. But now that MANAA has resurrected this antiquarian scientific specialty, I guess we can dig out our old charts and calipers and go back to merrily racially classifying people to our hearts’ content.

  13. Jim — I don’t begrudge any groups pointing out that terrible filmed entertainments are devoid of characters from their particular cultural team. It can be useful and interesting information, if nothing else. But 1) I find notions of racial purity — like the one I excerpted — to be worrisome, even poisonous; and 2) Every time I hear a complaint about “stereotypes” in Hollywood, I wonder, which TV/movie character *isn’t* a stereotype? If there were pressure groups attached to every stereotype — hookers with hearts of gold, 12-year-old English orphans with magical powers, etc. — the climate for free expression in Hollywood would deteriorate further, and the quality of movies would suffer.

    That’s not to pin responsibility for movie quality on the shoulders of MANAA, but to recognize that its explicit goal really does not have anything to do with making good movies.

  14. Homer Simpson portrays negative stereotypes? He loafs on his ass all day at work, eats donuts, drinks beer, and wants to strangle his bratty kid. Sounds like a normal American dad.

  15. Oh, why not Kevin. And while we’re at it, let’s do Craniometry and Anthropometry as well.

    http://skepdic.com/anthropo.html

  16. We’re talking about a movie in which Bernie Mac plays Bill Murray’s brother.
    Plus, Lucy Liu has freckles. She could easily be less than 100% Asian.
    And the Simpsons are yellow, not white.

  17. Omigod – Homer Simpson is Asian!! That ought to really torque off the MANAA crowd. All those dreadful character traits that were so funny in a guy they thought was white will magically morph into racial slurs.

  18. http://www.livejournal.com/users/stereolabrat/138241.html


    I saw the best fucking thing today in Chinatown. I mean for real. This older Chinese man, like maybe in his 50s, was walking down the street in a white shirt with crazy neon colors that said “It’s not a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank for a sex machine!!!” I fucking wet myself. He owned hard.

  19. You people really think a T&A movie is anything of consequence in the real world? So John Cleese can’t be oriental (as opposed to asian, which could be Indian, Afgahni, Russian, etc.)? Then neither can Will Smith be a western swashbuckler (Wild, Wild, West); or Jimmy Smits call himself “Smits”; or Michael Jackson even exist. C’mon round-eyes and slant-eyes alike, get in the real world.

  20. what does “owned hard” mean?
    Is it in that Williamsburg hipster book.

  21. He owned a hard-on, miss. Why do you ask?

  22. I once owned a full-blooded Asian, certified by the American Kennel Club.

    Just throwing out my personal slant on the subject.

  23. meee soo soorrry

  24. “Ooooo, Matt Felchy-Squelchy decides to get snarky…”

    Goddamnit. I TOLD you “Matt Felch” was funnier than “Matt Felchy-Squelchy” you semi-sentient piece of rat placenta. Now STFU and go compose some proper trolls.

    -Editor

  25. “You people really think a T&A movie is anything of consequence in the real world?”

    Uh, no. Which makes the riled up commentary of those racist jackasses complaining about Cleese getting the role all the funnier. Maybe they can lampoon the incident in Barbershop 3.

    “Who cares about her daddy? I’ll be her damn daddy! Believe that sheeeit! “

  26. Matt,

    You have to look pretty hard to find claims for racial purity or phrenological sizing up of every actor here. I’m guessing the point they’re trying to make is that as Jim said there are precious few Asians displayed in American pop culture, so why waste a chance to cast an Asian and cast John Cleese instead, when its so patently ridiculous to think that he could be Lucy Liu’s father. Maybe I’m overreacting here but to me it seems like precious little progress since the days when Asians were played by whites in ridiculous makeup, and Asian actors, such as Anna Mae Wong, were left on the sidelines.

    Its really something our pop culture needs to grapple with. One thing I’ve noticed is that if youi were to watch TV and movies you would think that approximately 50% of doctors, lawyers, judges and other professionals are black and virtually none are Asian. Yet if you live in the US you realize that neither is true. Why is that?

  27. you know the answer eric. we wouldn’t want to expose how someone from one culture can come here with nothing and send all their six kids to medical/law/business school– while a culture of people who happened to be liberated 138 years ago produces generations of deadbeats. so we sweep the problem under the rug and deal with it in fantasy land (pop culture) and showboat affirmative action rulings.

    now let the bigot insults fly…

  28. If MANAA is upset about a lack of “non-sterotyped” roles, they should be happy that an Asian woman is depicted as having a white father. Hell, Lucy Liu looks more like John Cleese than my biracial (can we still stay that?) girlfriend looks like HER white father. And I’d like these people also to tell the Derbyshire family that they can’t “convincingly” be related.

  29. I think there is something to what you say shooter, frankly, but there are a lot of other factors at play. One is that there is probably a disproportionately small number of Asians in entertainment to begin with. Because, as you say, Asian families generally stress academic excellence, and therefore Asians are most likely to actually become doctors and lawyers as opposed to playing them on TV. While whites and blacks alike now seem to have an inordinate fixation on getting their faces on TV, so therefore more of them are actors.

    But, a large part of it is simply the hollywood version of affirmative action, which works to the benefit of middle and upper class blacks and against say, those descended from Chinese railroad workers who endured conditions every bit as bad of those of southern slaves, if not worse.

  30. Where are all the white guys complaining about the negative stereotypes Homer Simpson protrays?

  31. I think that many of these messages on this board demonstrates that there is a significant cultural gap between the asian-american community and “mainstream America”. Ignoring some of the blatantly racist messages that already been posted, let’s ask some hard questions:

    • How many Asian-American actors are active in Hollywood today? Why so few?
    • How many of those are male?
    • How many male Asian actors have been cast in strong positive roles?
    • Why is it that there is a non-trivial number of Asian doctors, yet practically none of the ones portrayed on TV are?
    • How many non-stereotyped roles are there for Asian actors? For females, this includes roles that aren’t hypersexualized or highly submissive. For males, this includes roles that aren’t emasculated, or martial arts experts, or just plain geeky. In other words, how many roles are there where Asians can just be everyday people?

    Granted, the MANAA statement could have used more tact, but it really gets to the heart of the issue: why is there such a large disconnect between the role Asian-Americans play in everyday life, and how they are portrayed in the media?

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