jacl demands apology for the goods

Well, this isn't a surprise. I've already mentioned the troublesome "Pearl Harbor" scene in the Jeremy Piven comedy The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, which opened in theaters over the weekend. The Japanese American Citizens League is now demanding an apology for the scene, in which jokingly depicts the mob beating of an Asian American character: Japanese American group outraged by film.

The movie is about a notorious used car salesman who takes on a big Fourth of July sale. During the scene in question, Jeremy Piven fires up his fellow salesmen with a pep talk, invoking World War II: "Don't get me started on Pearl Harbor. We are Americans and they are the enemy! Never again!"

The scene culminates with an angry mob beating up the only Asian American person in the room, Teddy Dang (played by Ken Jeong). Piven's character also uses the racial slur "Jap" in the scene and, acknowledging it was a hate crime, conspires with employees to say that Dang was attacking them with a "samurai sword" and "Chinese throwing stars."

Saying the film showed a "shocking lack of judgment," the JACL said the producers "need to apologize because they crossed a line in thinking they could use a racial slur simply for the sake of a laugh."

Paramount has essentially responded with a non-apology, saying that The Goods "satirizes and exaggerates the extremes of the sales and celebrity culture" and "is in no way meant to be mean-spirited, disparaging or hurtful to any individuals and we regret any offense taken.

This is the part I like: "We understand that when presented out of context, jokes and situations in the movie about a variety of topics might be offensive to some people."

Uh, no -- not just out of context. Even when presented in context, this scene and its jokes about hate crimes, racial stereotypes and wartime hysteria are still unfunny and offensive. Did the producers really think that this would fly with Japanese Americans who really did have to endure violence at the hands of racist Americans during World War II? Or maybe they just didn't think.

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