October 5, 2022

Asian media watchdog group calls for awards boycott of Licorice Pizza

Media Motion Community for Asian Individuals, a non-profit media watchdog group for Asian Individuals within the media, has known as for an awards season boycott of Paul Thomas Anderson’s romance drama, Licorice Pizza.

MANAA condemned the movie for scenes involving a white restauranteur (John Michael Higgins) utilizing a mock Asian accent whereas addressing his Japanese spouse (Yumi Mizui). MANAA maintained the movie amplifies the message that “racism in movies is OK” on the expense of Asian characters in a launch issued to Rafu Shimpo, a Los Angeles-based Japanese-American newspaper. EW obtained the identical assertion once we reached out to the watchdog group.

“Due to the casual racism found in the movie Licorice Pizza, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) believes that Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is not deserving of nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Original Screenplay, and is asking other film critic associations to pass over it this awards season,” the assertion learn.

Asian media watchdog group calls for awards boycott of ‘Licorice Pizza.’ | Credit score: MGM

“To shower it with nominations and awards would normalize more egregious mocking of Asians in this country,” the assertion continued, “sending the message that it’s OK to make fun of them, even during a time when Asian Americans are afraid to go out on the streets because of the unprecedented levels of violence from fellow Americans blaming them for COVID-19.”

Set in California’s San Fernando Valley within the early Seventies, Licorice Pizza chronicles younger love by way of the lens of Alana Kane (Alana Haim, one-third of sister musical trio Haim) and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman). The approaching-of-age dramedy has garnered award buzz since its Nov. 26 launch, with Haim receiving her first Golden Globe nom for her function.

MANAA stated the “cringeworthy” scenes “do not advance the plot in any way,” including that they’re “included simply for cheap laughs, reinforcing the notion that Asian Americans are ‘less than’ and perpetual foreigners.”

Whereas chatting with The New York Times final month, Anderson defended the scenes after critics and moviegoers panned the accent.

“I think it would be a mistake to tell a period film through the eyes of 2021,” Anderson stated. “You can’t have a crystal ball, you have to be honest to that time. Not that it wouldn’t happen right now, by the way. My mother-in-law’s Japanese and my father-in-law is white, so seeing people speak English to her with a Japanese accent is something that happens all the time. I don’t think they even know they’re doing it.”

Man Aoki, MANAA’s founding president, issued the next response to Rafu and confirmed by EW: “Anderson talks about Licorice Pizza being a period piece and includes racism toward Asian Americans from that time.  He certainly would have known about the racism that African Americans faced too. Would he even have dared to include a similar stereotypical scene that insulted African Americans and encouraged the audience to laugh? Absolutely not, because the blowback would have been swift, harsh, fierce, and his film would have been shut down.” 

A MANAA spokesperson additionally stated in a press release issued to EW, “According to public sources, Paul Thomas Anderson is in a long-term relationship with actress and comedian Maya Rudolph and lives in the San Fernando Valley with their children.  So is Paul saying that Maya Rudolph’s mother is Japanese?  Or is he referring to someone else?”