Saturday, November 28, 2009

MANAA letter regarding Red Dawn remake

photo courtesy of

November 15, 2009
Dan Bradley, Director
c/o International Creative Management
10250 Constellation Boulevard - 7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Dear Mr. Bradley:

I am writing on behalf of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) because the plot of your new film “Red Dawn” has recently been brought to our attention by concerned community members. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating for balanced, sensitive, and positive depiction and coverage of Asian Americans. Since 1992, we have consulted with movie studios and met regularly with the top four TV networks to convey the importance of diversity in the media.

We are wary about the upcoming remake of 1984 Cold War classic “Red Dawn” because of the decision to portray China as the primary military invading force. Having enemy Chinese soldiers on screen without providing positive Asian American representation as a counterbalance propagates anti-Asian American sentiment for viewers of the film. The Asian American community has long been plagued by racial profiling and is among the largest growing target of hate crimes in the United States. There is a danger in depicting large groups of individuals of Asian descent as a common enemy.

Hollywood films seldom feature Asian Americans in positive prominent roles. This remake of Red Dawn contains a plot that makes prudent casting especially crucial to avoid sending a wrong message about a war between races. Our intention is not to prematurely condemn the film, but to prevent potentially ill-informed decisions that could adversely affect the Asian American community. Therefore, we would like to invite you to meet with us and to contact us as a resource. Again, we only wish to urge the filmmakers to make their casting decisions with care and sensitivity. Your time is greatly appreciated and we look forward to your response.


Phil Lee

cc: Contrafilm

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Greetings

Ha, I don’t know if anyone is actually reading this on Turkey Day, but since it’s been a while since I’ve posted something as MANAA President, I’m taking a break from the cooking and eating to wish you all a “Happy Thanksgiving!” And also to post some news after last week’s monthly meeting.

The group had a fun time discussing Asian Americans in television, including shows like Glee, So You Think You Can Dance, Trauma, Three Rivers, and Law and Order: SVU. Generally, the reports this month were positive, but of course, that’s just a small percentage of what’s out there! (If you have a show that you want to report on, come out to the next meeting!)

Speaking of reports, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition will be releasing their annual TV diversity report card in early December. The report card rates diversity (regarding Asian and Pacific Islanders) for all the major TV network companies. We’ll be posting more info about that on the blog shortly, and we can use your help to publicize it!

A couple weeks ago, we posted the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) release about the big meeting with Paramount, but at the MANAA meeting, we got to hear even more of the details. It’s too much to write here, but it was a productive meeting, with both The Goods AND The Last Airbender being talked about. Plus the outlook for future communication with Paramount is looking pretty good. I really would like to thank the folks at MANAA, as well all our friends and colleagues, for all their hard work to keep the dialog going about both those movies.

And speaking of thanks, that brings us back to “Happy Thanksgiving!” I hope that all of you out there have a great holiday weekend, and remember that there is a lot to be thankful for.

Phil Lee
President, MANAA

P.S. Ninja Assassin is out this weekend! Is anyone going to see it? Someone pointed out to us that all the billboard ads for this movie cut off the main character’s image above the nose, and questioned why they didn’t include his whole face: was someone worried that it looked “too Asian” or just not tough enough? It’s an interesting question. Actually, I believe even back in Korea, when Rain was starting out, the studios rejected him because they didn’t like his look! Of course, he's come a long way since then. As much as we like to see Asian American actors get starring roles (the American studios often pick established stars from Asian hoping that it leads to more box office globally), I think it would be great if Ninja Assassin leads to further success in the U.S. for the Korean pop star.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy with BD Wong role lately

We were so excited to see BD Wong given more meaty roles lately on Law & Order: SVU. He had very substantial roles in the episode involving child pornography and also the one involving a therapist who controlled the minds of teenage children. We look forward to seeing him in future substantial roles as opposed to his usual role of offering brief psychological interpretations in a single scene. Maybe someday he'll also be given a scene opposite Joel de la Fuente, who is also a great actor!

We wrote a letter to the show runner to express our excitement at Wong being featured. If you'd like to do the same, feel free to send it to:

Mr. Dick Wolf
Creator, Law & Order: SVU
Wolf Films, Inc.
5801 West Side Avenue
North Bergen, NJ 07047

Friday, November 13, 2009

MANAA and JACL meet with Paramount

From JACL:
(Left to right: Bill Imada, Katie Martin Kelly, Guy Aoki, Adam Goodman, Craig Ishii, Floyd Mori)

On Thursday, the JACL was represented at a meeting with Paramount Pictures by Floyd Mori, National Executive Director, and Craig Ishii, Regional Director of the Pacific Southwest District. Paramount Pictures President and CEO, Adam Goodman had invited Mori to meet to discuss problems of racial stereotyping and racial casting by Paramount. Bill Imada, CEO of the IW Group (formerly Imada Wong Communications Group), and Guy Aoki, co-founder of MAANA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans), also attended the meeting that included Paramount executives, Sharon Keyser and Katie Martinelli. The meeting was a result of a letter Mori wrote to Goodman condemning the negative stereotype portrayed in the Paramount movie, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.

Goodman, who became the CEO of Paramount after the filming of the movie, had apologized for the racially demeaning scene and with this meeting had made good on his promise to meet with Mori and other community leaders. In the meeting Goodman committed to further dialog and requested that ongoing meetings be held to monitor and evaluate Paramount's performance in providing a diverse platform in their productions.

Mori was pleased with the outcome of the meeting and stated, "Adam Goodman was receptive to our concerns and expressed an attitude of further cooperation to make Paramount a model for reflecting the diversity that exists in contemporary society. We look forward to a close working relationship with the studio in eliminating the perpetuation of negative stereotyping of ethnic minorities. Through this dialog, we hope to avoid the type of debacle which resulted from The Goods."