protest the goods at paramount

Negative reaction to The Goods -- specifically, the "Pearl Harbor" scene -- is starting to pick up some steam. MANAA and JACL, along with other community groups, are planning to stage a protest tomorrow (Friday) afternoon outside of Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles. Some details:
Protest at Paramount

Friday, August 21, 2009
4:30pm - 6:30pm
Paramount Pictures
Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

JACL, Imada/Wong, and MANAA are looking for volunteers to join in protesting at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles on FRIDAY AUGUST 21.

These groups are infuriated by "The Goods," which depicts Ken Jeong's character getting attacked by fellow auto salesmen for looking Japanese.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, please join us for the protest on FRIDAY AUG 21!

If possible, those who think they will be able to show up should e-mail MANAA their contact info (phone number, e-mails and such) at letters@manaa.org.
They'll be joined by folks from Racebending -- fans of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender -- who, as you are aware, also have issues with Paramount. If you're in the Los Angeles area, and can make it out, they could use your strength-in-numbers support.

I also wanted to direct your attention to this thoughtful letter by Ken Narasaki, written to Sumner Redstone, Chairman of Paramount's parent company Viacom. He tries to communicate, in very human terms, why the Pearl Harbor scene cannot simply be dismissed as a joke:
Mr. Sumner M. Redstone
Executive Chairman of the Board & Founder
Viacom, Inc.
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Redstone:

I'm writing to protest the disgusting depiction of a hate crime-as-humor in the film, the television trailers, and the online ads for THE GOODS. I know, I know, everyone keeps saying that "it's a joke," "it's satirical," "the film is intentionally offensive to many different kinds of people," but this is beyond hurt feelings and offended sensibilities - this is racist hatemongering disguised as humor. I'm assuming you've heard similar analogies, but I have to ask: If those white car salesmen had beaten up a Jewish salesman "for killing Christ", and Jeremy Piven's character egged them on by describing "the Kikes nailing our Savior to the cross", would you expect your Jewish audience to just take it as a joke? Especially if your company ran the clip as part of its ADVERTISING on network TV? How about if Ken Jeong's character was black and Jeremy Piven's character urged the white salesmen to cover up their hate crime by saying he attacked them with a spear? Can you imagine your African American audience sitting still for that one?
I know THE GOODS is pretty much tanking at the box office, but it'll go to DVD, and then to cable, and every time, in every incarnation, there will be that scene where white salespeople beat up an Asian who later has to apologize, saying he's Korean, not Japanese.

I'm sure others have brought up the spectre of Vincent Chin's brutal murder by baseball bat by out-of-work auto workers in Detroit. It's real. Racial violence taken to the level of murder – and the filmmakers are either so insensitive, they think it's time to laugh about it (It's satire! We're making FUN of the racists!), or they are so ignorant, they have no idea that they are invoking an incredibly painful incident still fresh in many Asian Americans' minds.

I have a personal incident to share with you: On December 7, 1992, the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it was impossible not to see the footage of the bombing, playing over and over on all media outlets. Fair enough, it was the Day that will live in Infamy. It didn't matter that my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all put into concentration camps as a result; it didn't matter that my father fought in Europe as part of the famed segregated Japanese American fighting unit, the 442nd: Someone decided to commemorate that day by throwing a brick through my front window. The brick and the glass landed on my then baby daughter's changing table. Luckily for us, we were not at home at the time.

I've seen Paramount's incredibly lame non-apology, and I, for one, am sick to death of Asian bashing masquerading as humor, and ask that you, in your capacity of Executive Chairman of Viacom, demand that this scene, which laughs at the very idea of hate crimes, be removed from the film and that Paramount Vantage issue a very real apology this time.

Ken Narasaki
cc: The Los Angeles Times
As someone who has followed and kept track of this kind of racist Hollywood nonsense for years, it can get pretty tiring. I still have to constantly remind myself that nothing will change unless there are people out there who give a damn about changing it.

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