SF Chronicle columnist Leah Garcik reported (fifth item) on July 27, a week after the screening, that
Asian American advocate Christina Fa has written to the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation to demand an apology for last weekend's showing of "Sixteen Candles" in Dolores Park. Fa says the role played by Gedde Watanabe is "a horrifyingly racist portrayal" of an "oversexed, geeky, opposite-of-macho Asian man." Showing such a movie "without a clear intent to educate the public about its racist portrayal, smacks of racism itself," says her letter.
Not all Asian Pacific Americans are in agreement about the movie. When it was first released, said Asian Week in 2005, "APAs cried racism, but 20 years later, it's easier to appreciate Watanabe's comic gem of a performance, which is on a par with other classic teen portrayals like John Belushi's slob in 'Animal House' and Sean Penn's stoned-out surfer in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High.' "
Foundation President Alfonso Felder said the 7,000-person audience was the biggest ever for an outdoor film here. As to Fa's complaints, he says "Sixteen Candles" is entertaining and has broad public appeal. "I think our audiences are smart enough to make their own decisions about when films cross the line in inappropriate ways."
When the movie's organizers apologized that anyone was offended (sidenote: apologizing that anyone was offended is the new black), the Asian American Outraged said, in effect, oh no you didn't.
So the question is: do Asian Americans give a crap? Do we really care about a 23-year-old film caricature? Don't we have larger things to devote our anger to??
Personally, I love Sixteen Candles, but maybe older generations and particularly men are more sensitive to this.
AsianWeek columnist Phil Chung wrote in 2005:
But if you’re Asian, and especially if you’re Asian and male, Sixteen Candles may well be the movie that made your childhood a living hell.
For those not familiar with the film, I give you the three words that traumatized a whole generation of Asian American men: Long Duk Dong.
I'm wondering if the Asian American young men and women of today feel the same way. Weigh in below.