Tom Boghossian (tboghosn@calarts.edu)
Thu, 03 Jul 2003 10:51:14 -0700


Tom Boghossian
California Institute of the Arts

At 01:09 PM 7/3/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 7/3/03 9:49:27 AM, jrosner@kino.com writes:
>>I believe NAATA is hypocritical in condemning the Fox Chan series
>>as perpetuating racist stereotypes WHILE at the same time often supporting
>>and encouraging research & presentations of films starring Anna May Wong &
>>Sessue Hayakawa, the two seminal figures in Asian American film history
>>In many of their films both portrayed the worst kind of Asian stereotype
>>lustful, greedy, evil figures out to destroy white Christian society. NAATA
>>feels THESE films should be studied but the Fox Chan's in which the Asian
>>character is smart ,sympathetic and heroic should be banned largely because
>>a white actor plays the lead.
>Okay, this is where I have to step in and strongly disagree. A blanket
>statement about Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa's contribution to cinema
>just to attack NAATA is just as wrong-headed as any statement NAATA has
>made. (And coincidently, our mutual friend making the documentary on Anna
>just called me as I'm writing this...)
>Working on two of their films and studying the rest of their work, it's
>true that there are works in their career I'm sure they'd would look back
>on today (if they weren't already dead) and regret, but Hayakawa's own
>productions and several of Wong's films are quite remarkably advanced for
>the time. The fact that they were big stars in Hollywood and around the
>world during an era where options for non-white actors were limited, is
>enough reason to study and make documentaries about them.
>As for NAATA, they have every right (or wrong) to excercize free speech
>and protest -- I'm surprised people are attacking them for doing so. It's
>certainly something I would do if a distributor or broadcaster showed
>films from the Third Reich or Stalinist era without any context. Not to
>confuse Charlie Chan with Jew Struss, but NAATA can protest, and Fox can
>stand up for what they believe in and what is right -- if they believed in
>anything, of course. They certainly were willing to take a brave stance
>with Jar Jar Blinks when they were grossing millions of dollars with Star
>Wars Phantom Menace. ;-)
>So the disturbing fact -- though long obvious at most of the studios -- is
>that Fox caved in because they have no moral or intellectual imperative to
>what they show or why. The days of Bill Paley at CBS are definitely over.
>Turner Classic Movies, when they showed Birth of a Nation, had a
>wrap-around featuring a film scholar as well as director Charles Burnett
>discussing the pros and cons of the film -- they even left in Charles
>suggesting that Turner shouldn't even be showing it in the first place!
>This is good broadcasting (and the people at TCM are indeed remarkable).
>Fox bent to pressure because they have no real ethical backbone. That's
>why I sent a letter of protest.
>(And by the way, I have seen the Charlie Chan films as well.)
>Dennis Doros
>Milestone Film & Video
>PO Box 128
>Harrington Park, NJ 07640
>Phone: (800) 603-1104 or (201) 767-3117
>Fax: (201) 767-3035
>Email: milefilms@aol.com

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