P ut an End to Media Hype ,
No More Racist Stereotypes .
Such was a typical chant at Mann's Chinese Theater on Friday night, where more than 100 demonstrators congregated to picket "Year of the Dragon."
The film, set in New York's Chinatown and focusing on a clash between the leader of a Chinese crime syndicate and a police captain, has been attacked across the country as being racist, sexist and degrading to Chinese Americans.
"We're afraid this film will poison minds," said Irvin Lai, national grand president of the Chinese American Citizens, and one of Friday's picketers. "We want people to see our side. We don't like to demonstrate but we must let the people know we are outraged. The racism and the sexism are just too prominent to ignore."
The picket was organized by the Asian Pacific American Media Watch, an ad-hoc alliance of more than 25 area Asian organizations.
Sumi Haru, a co-chairperson of the alliance, said that the picket was called "to show the community's outrage at the racist and sexist images in the film."
Many of the picketers criticized the film's director, Michael Cimino, as much as they criticized the film. "Racism plus Sexism equals Michael Cimino," read one sign; "Cimino Teaches Hate" and "Cimino Makes Racism Fashionable," read others.
"This film takes all stereotypes of the Chinese and explodes them into an exaggerated form," said Albert Lum, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and a picketer. "For those people who are unfamiliar with Chinese culture, the film raises the specter of immediate prejudice."
MGM/UA Entertainment Co., the film's distributor, issued a statement on Thursday denouncing the alliance's criticism of the film: "MGM/UA believes that the claims made against the film 'Year of the Dragon' and its makers are without validity," said studio spokesman Ed Pine. "Regardless of our opinion, however, we encourage members of the Asian American community to view the film and make their own judgments."
MGM/UA refused to say whether pickets in San Francisco and New York were affecting movie attendance in those cities.
Management at Mann's Chinese also would not comment on the impact of Friday night's picketing, but lines at ticket windows were long and business appeared steady.
According to Los Angeles police, the picketers were well-behaved. The wandering throng of tourists at the theater's courtyard seemed undistracted by the commotion, and business at the self-service miniature plastic Chinese Theater souvenir machine went uninterrupted.
All the while, the sidewalk chanting continued.
Michael Cimino You Can't Hide ,
Let's Turn Back This Racist Tide .