Expat Life, Uncategorized

The World According to Hollywood

I was researching cultural stereotypes for one of the ESL classes I teach when I came across a video clip from the 80’s film Sixteen Candles.  The clip shows a Chinese exchange student, Long Duck Dong, drunk and making a fool of himself in heavily-accented, incoherent English.

Ironically enough, the actor who played Dong isn’t from China or even Asia.  He’s a Japanese-American who was born and raised in Utah.  In an NPR interview for a piece entitled “Long Duck Dong:  Last of the Hollywood Stereotypes?”, the actor, Gedde Watanabe, who is now in his mid-50’s, says that he may have been ‘a bit naive’ when he accepted the role.   He angered quite a few people with his portrayal of what one person NPR interviewed described as, “every bad stereotype possible, loaded into one character.”

What do you think?  Are stereotyped depictions of foreigners funny?  Or are they offensive?

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4 thoughts on “The World According to Hollywood

  1. Hm, actually I don’t think that was a bad racial stereotype. I don’t really think of getting drunk and being irresponsible as typical of Asians. Actually it’s a little unusual because the stereotype of Asians is that they are hard working and respectful. That’s part of what made it funny to me.

    The other part is the broken English. I don’t think it’s bad to laugh at broken English! It’s nice that they’re even trying. More cute than offensive, really.

    And now, to get really esoteric– humor is public service. Usually it’s not funny unless you’re breaking preconceptions and enlightening people.

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