The Media Action Network for Asian Americans has sent a letter to executives at Fox asking them to rewrite and reshoot scenes from their new fall show Dads because of the show is chock full of "racial and sexual stereotypes", writing that the pilot has been "universally despised" by all that have seen it.
In the letter, the founding president of MANAA Guy Aoki praised Fox for having minorities in many roles across their fall pilots, but criticized all the fantastically original jokes from the Dads pilot that attendees at the Television Critics Association panel found as offensive as MANAA did. These included having actress Brenda Song's character dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl at work to impress some clients, references to tiny Asian penises and the implication that Asians cannot be trusted. Aoki also called out 2 Broke Girls for its continued reliance of jokes about Asian stereotypes.
Our community can't continue to be the target of racially insensitive jokes. Fox has an opportunity to fix fatal flaws in the pilot and to improve the show's chances for success when it premieres next month. We are asking you to reshoot the inappropriate scenes of the pilot. Considering the consistent feedback from our community and television critics in general — and the creators saying they hadn't properly defined their characters nor gotten used to their actors when they shot that first episode — this sounds like a no-brainer.
He also took aim at co-creator Alec Sulkin for the time he made a Pearl Harbor joke on Twitter after the Japanese earthquake, deliberately calling him out as someone who has had a problem with the Asian community, and made some suggestions for what the writers could do differently:
Instead of reinforcing tired, negative stereotypes of Asian people...turn these stereotypes on their heads. So if Asian women are assumed to be subservient, make Brenda Song’s character outspoken—someone who won’t take crap. If Asian men supposedly have small penises, give this interpreter a large one. Doing unexpected things like this creates talk, buzz, and ratings, and it gets the Asian American community more behind the series vs. being resentful toward and suspicious of it. It can be a win win situation.
Each year, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (a parent organization of MANAA) grades networks on their representations of Asian Americans on their channels, and for the 2011-2012 season, Fox did as badly as you could do, completely due to the fact that they didn't give MANAA any information at all:
Fox failed to provide the data the APAMC has consistently requested and which the other networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—have delivered for over a decade. As a result, for the 2011-2012 season, the Coalition had no choice but to give the network a grade of F/Incomplete—the worst grade ever given to any network in the history of the report cards. APAMC Co-Chair Marilyn Tokuda remarked, “This is especially disappointing because Fox had some very positive stories to tell about its diversity initiatives under its new Audience Strategies department.”
APAMC found Fox's lack of compliance frustrating, given that they were "the only network to meet the coalition’s challenge from last year to cast at least one Asian Pacific American actor as the main star of a TV show by Fall 2014" – Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project. According to APAMC, they work with the major networks on a regular basis, forging agreements with them to make sure that they try to "increase diversity on-screen and behind the camera."
Aoki sent the letter Monday and has not heard back from Fox, though representatives from the company say they will be responding. That being said, the likelihood of them releasing a statement saying they're going to put the time and money into reshooting a pilot this close to the start of fall premiere season – especially when they're probably hoping people will watch just to see what all the fuss is about – is slim to none.
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