[Videolib] charlie chan

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 03 Jul 2003 12:22:49 -0700

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Hi all

Got this note from Eddie Wong of NAATA. See my response (I will append
names of those who signed on to the earlier petition). Anyone else who
wants to sign on before I hit "SEND" should let me know today. I've
touched bases with the OIF--as expected, since this isn't really "a library
matter," they're not interested in joining in. I did get good bits of
advice, tho...working with NAATA, being one of them.

-- Gary and Joan,
I was forwarded your email and wanted to open up some dialog. As you know,
NAATA was one of the group's asking Fox to cancel the Chan series. I'm
sure you can understand the reasons why Asian Americans find Chan to be an
offensive stereotype.
I also understand your position. I believe that Fox or any network that
chooses to show racially stereotypical movies should alert the viewers to
the broader context of the work. The History Channel apparently does this
by having a panel discussion before and after the broadcast of "Birth of a
Nation," DW Griffith paen to the KKK. Having Fox do this with the Chan
films would educate the audience. Most commercial networks, however,
aren't in the education business. All they care about is getting the ads
sold. So if it is a choice between having racist movies on air without
contextualization and not having them on air at all, I still favor not
having them on air at all. The emails that are coming to NAATA reveal a
great ignorance about racism and media literacy. People who tell us that
we should "turn the channel" and "lighten up" really don't understand that
racial stereotypes have a detrimental impact on Asian American self-esteem,
not to mention engender racial hatred.
Fox has opened the door to bring back the series. On the Fox Movie Channel
Website, they say they will leave it up to public opinion. Perhaps, we
will have to deal with this issue and can work together on getting Fox to
put some strong disclaimers or additional commentary as the series continues.
I regret that things are going in this direction. If we had left the Civil
Rights Bill up to a public opinion poll, there would still be segregated
housing in the South. Progress comes with some amount of pain. The
victims of racial stereotyping in films have borne the burden too long.
I hope to hear from you.

Eddie WongExecutive DirectorNAATA145 9th St., Ste 350S.F., CA 94103415
863-0814 ext. 103415 863-7428 faxe: eddie@naatanet.orgurl; www.naatanet.org
become a NAATA member, visit www.naatanet.org/aboutus

Dear Eddie

Thanks for your thoughtful note; I appreciate your contacting us. As I
am sure you aware, the discussion group I represent (The American Library
Association Video Round Table/Videolib listserv) comprises librarians,
educators, film/video producers and distributors. As a group, we have
enormous respect for NAATA and its programs. The VRT has worked very hard
over the past 15 years to establish close working relations with
independent filmmakers and distributors. We feel strongly that video
librarians and indie video producers must continue to work closely together
to ensure the availability of diverse, quality collections and programming
in libraries and schools. At the same time, as librarians and educators,
it is equally important to us to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of
access, and continuing access to the full-range of our printed and visual
history. We are painfully aware of the long history of negative
stereotypes in the media in this country, and we celebrate the growing
diversity of voices and visions available on film and video that are
striving to counteract these images. It is our strong position, however,
that no one is served by ignoring the past or by limiting access to the
cultural record. The history of movies is, as you know, one that
includes a legacy of stereotype and other hurtful cultural images. It's
our job as librarians and educators to provide both access and context to
these images so they may be viewed and discussed in a hopefully more
enlightened light.

We would very much like to work with both NAATA and Fox to develop a way to
present the Charlie Chan films in a historical and cultural perspective. I
look forward to discussing the possibilities further with you.

Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

"What is cinema? Nothing. What does cinema want? Everything. What can
cinema do? Something."
--Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema
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Hi all

Got this note from Eddie Wong of NAATA. See my response (I will append names of those who signed on to the earlier petition).  Anyone else who wants to sign on before I hit "SEND" should let me know today.  I've touched bases with the OIF--as expected, since this isn't really "a library matter," they're not interested in joining in.  I did get good bits of advice, tho...working with NAATA, being one of them.

-- Gary and Joan, 
I was forwarded your email and wanted to open up some dialog.  As you know, NAATA was one of the group's asking Fox to cancel the Chan series.  I'm sure you can understand the reasons why Asian Americans find Chan to be an offensive stereotype. 
I also understand your position.  I believe that Fox or any network that chooses to show racially stereotypical movies should alert the viewers to the broader context of the work.  The History Channel apparently does this by having a panel discussion before and after the broadcast of "Birth of a Nation," DW Griffith paen to the KKK.  Having Fox do this with the Chan films would educate the audience.  Most commercial networks, however, aren't in the education business. All they care about is getting the ads sold.  So if it is a choice between having racist movies on air without contextualization and not having them on air at all, I still favor not having them on air at all.  The emails that are coming to NAATA reveal a great ignorance about racism and media literacy.  People who tell us that we should "turn the channel" and "lighten up" really don't understand that racial stereotypes have a detrimental impact on Asian American self-esteem, not to mention engender racial hatred.
Fox has opened the door to bring back the series.  On the Fox Movie Channel Website, they say they will leave it up to public opinion.  Perhaps, we will have to deal with this issue and can work together on getting Fox to put some strong disclaimers or additional commentary as the series continues. 
I regret that things are going in this direction.  If we had left the Civil Rights Bill up to a public opinion poll, there would still be segregated housing in the South.  Progress comes with some amount of pain.  The victims of racial stereotyping in films have borne the burden too long.
I hope to hear from you.

Eddie WongExecutive DirectorNAATA145 9th St., Ste 350S.F., CA  94103415 863-0814 ext. 103415 863-7428 faxe:  eddie@naatanet.orgurl;  www.naatanet.org
become a NAATA member, visit www.naatanet.org/aboutus


Dear Eddie

Thanks for your thoughtful note; I appreciate your contacting us.    As I am sure you aware, the discussion group I represent (The American Library Association Video Round Table/Videolib listserv) comprises librarians, educators, film/video producers and distributors.  As a group, we have enormous respect for NAATA and its programs.  The VRT has worked very hard over the past 15 years to establish close working relations with independent filmmakers and distributors.  We feel strongly that video librarians and indie video producers must continue to work closely together to ensure the availability of diverse, quality collections and programming in libraries and schools.  At the same time, as librarians and educators, it is equally important to us to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of access, and continuing access to the full-range of our printed and visual history.  We are painfully aware of the long history of negative stereotypes in the media in this country, and we celebrate the growing diversity of voices and visions available on film and video that are striving to counteract these images.  It is our strong position, however, that no one is served by ignoring the past or by limiting access to the cultural record.   The history of movies is, as you know,  one that includes a legacy of stereotype and other hurtful cultural images.  It's our job as librarians and educators to provide both access and context to these images so they may be viewed and discussed in a hopefully more enlightened light.

We would very much like to work with both NAATA and Fox to develop a way to present the Charlie Chan films in a historical and cultural perspective.  I look forward to discussing the possibilities further with you.


Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

"What is cinema? Nothing. What does cinema want? Everything. What can
cinema do? Something."
        --Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema=20

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