Kung Fu Panda Express

I’m sure it’s a very cute movie, but Hollywood? What the hell?

As you all know, I am not an Asian American, but after being married to a man with an Asian fetish I became highly aware that some people did not see Asian Americans as people but as stereotypes left over from “Enter the Dragon” meets “Flower Drum Song” meets “Miss Saigon” meets Long Duk Dong from “Sixteen Candles.”

Most times America must seem like a black or white world where if you’re not a black person or white person no one really gives a crap about whether your thousands-of-years-old culture is being portrayed by a cartoon panda doing martial arts voiced by Jack Black. Just suck on it Chinese Americans. Why are you all so uptight? It’s just a movie, they say. Don’t you have Fu Manchu mustaches and stick around confusing your Rs and Ls? And I think Dragonball Z is a documentary on Japanese mythology. What? That’s isn’t real? Don’t you all worship Goku?

When I see Kung Fu Panda I think–Is this the equivalent of Hollywood making a movie about a jive-talking Chicken from the country whose dream is to become a famous rapper, moves to the ghetto but is constantly being pursued by greasy black fry cook from Church’s–World’s Greasiest Chicken Chain? The chicken would be voiced by Eddie Murphy, or worse, Michael Rappaport. And Nelly would write and produce the soundtrack? And there would be all these hip hop references and the pimps and drug dealers would do a song and dance number with Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King Jr.’s ghost?

While I’m sure it’s a “cute” movie, considering that Asian people are pretty much invisible in Hollywood save for the occasional Karate flick and such rarities as Harold and Kumar, it has to be annoying to see out the usual three paltry movies related to Asian culture that may come out this year one of them has to be a kid’s flick about a talking panda who learns Kung Fu.

We have Madea, but that’s for us, by us. We only have ourselves to blame.

11 thoughts on “Kung Fu Panda Express

  1. Snob,I’ve read you make references to Michael Rappaport before. What did he do to get on your sh*t list? What did I miss? LolMonie

  2. Good point. I just saw an interview with Mr. Black regarding the film and he mentions that the creators of this story had him in mind the entire time they wrote it. Writer 1: Who could we get to be the voices of all these Asian inspired characters? Just who???Writer 2:Oh! I know: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman!Writer: Duh! Great idea!

  3. monie: I’ve never been a fan of Rappaport. I find him obnoxious, like a worse version, downgrade version of Jay Mohr, who I also hate.Plus his FOX sitcom, “The War At Home” was an abomination. It was, by far, the worst thing I’d seen on television since the WB had that “Married With Children” clone that made Nikki Cox, strangely enough Jay Mohr’s significant other, famous.I just can’t stand him. AND he’s going to be on Prison Break next season. How dare he infiltrate one of my favorite shows. It was bad enough two years ago when there was nothing on Sunday nights between the end of the Simpsons and Grey’s Anatomy, so I would end up staring at “The War At Home” waiting to laugh at anything. To actually have in on Prison Break … God. I hope he dies within the first few episodes.

  4. “Is this the equivalent of Hollywood making a movie about a jive-talking Chicken from the country whose dream is to become a famous rapper, moves to the ghetto but is constantly being pursued by greasy black fry cook from Church’s–World’s Greasiest Chicken Chain?”I. Am on the floor.

  5. Mmm, bad form, Kung Fu Panda. Bad form. I much agree– growing up black in one of the most multiracial communities (the DC suburbs) we learned not to take this kind of sh*t lightly. The panda you animate one day may be the Eddie-Murphy-as-a-jackass the next.

  6. Snob,You might be interested in Asians in Film feature for June on Turner Classic Movies. It is on Tuesdays and Thursdays all this month. They had a documentary on about the portrayal of Asian men in film, and reminded me of your post a few months ago.

  7. I’ve refrained from cursing this movie out whenever it’s mentioned on ONTD (everyone cooing over Angelina Jolie), but I don’t think I’ll be silent anymore.

  8. Snob,Okay thanks for breaking it down. I was wondering if he did something overtly racist or something like that.___________________________________The most amazingly stereotypical Asian character I’ve ever seen in a film was in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Mickey Rooney plays, I think, the landlord of the building that Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is living. Rooney’s portrayal is so harsh that it takes away from an otherwise great film.I suppose many Asian people might not se this as a great film though.Monie

  9. monie: Michael Rappaport also tends to play these stereotypical New Yorker characters, sometimes with ‘hood’ overtones. And in “The War At Home” he did play a person with some bigoted views. Other times he’s played variations on a “wigger” stereotype. He’s just really, really annoying to me. Like in film “Copland” I kept wishing he would die so I didn’t have to hear his voice anymore.And Mickey Rooney’s character is considered to be EXTREMELY offensive in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A lot of Asian Americans take serious issue to it. His character along with Long Duk Dong are the two I always hear the most when people talk about buffoonish Asian stereotypes in cinema.

  10. I’m probably gonna get slapped down about this, but hear me out.I went to go see Kung Fu Panda before I answered this post, and have come to the conclusion that this movie is about as racist as the movies you see on “Kung Fu Theater or whatever you call the cheesy karate movie time in your neck of the woods. That’s pretty much what the movie reminded me of. It’s as about as racist as Mulan or Lilo and Stitch ( which only had one Hawaiian in it, Tia Carrere, and yet Hawaiians LOVED it!) They were good movies, and I don’t think anybody was up in arms with Eddie Murphy being a Chinese Dragon or Donny Osmond as the singing Chinese Hero. As for the Jive Talking Chicken Rapper movie, the studios know Black people would come out swinging if we even thought they were going to make a movie like that. Disney was sitting on The Princess and the Frog for that very reason. That being said, where are all the indignant Asian Americans speaking against this movie? If they’re out there, and you and you know where they are, let me know! It’s not bothering Jackie Chan or Lucy Liu to be in it. Hell, Hero, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc… Kung Fu Panda is just an animated version of those movies, played for comedy and it should be taken as such. Now, if you just don’t like these movies, I can understand that, in my opinion, it’s not racist.

  11. kirk: My point wasn’t quite about racism, it was more about exploitation of a culture that is routinely treated as “exotic.”And since Asian Americans aren’t always as mobilized as black Americans, they sometimes don’t throw down over these sorts of things, <A HREF="http://www.angryasianman.com/2008/06/in-theaters-this-weekend.html“ REL=”nofollow”>even if they annoy them. This obviously wasn’t worth a full assault. It’s more of a minor infraction.Most Asian’s love Mulan because Disney worked closely with the Asian community to make it and it was based on their history. It’s about what’s tasteful and what isn’t. It’s a fine line. And Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan are routinely criticized in the Asian American community for the choices they’ve made in American cinema.So my point really wasn’t so much about the film, but how Asian Americans don’t see representations of themselves as just people, not kung fu masters or cartoons, but just people in cinema.That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad movie, but it is part of a cycle that continues to only dramatize the parts of Asian culture western audiences are most fascinated by.

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