In a recent statement, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans denounces the racist jokes found in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s awards darling Licorice Pizza has become a subject of controversy as a group of Asian activists calls on organizations to boycott him for his racist jokes. Thanks to films hailed as There will be blood and Inherent vice, Anderson is a popular director among devoted moviegoers, and his latest film, Licorice Pizza, sparked interest long before its release. The coming-of-age story of the 1970s received rave reviews from critics and is already garnering praise after winning honors from groups like the National Board of Review. In addition, Licorice Pizza set a specialist box office record for the pandemic era in its limited debut.

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Licorice Pizza takes place in the San Fernando Valley and traces the relationship between Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and Alana Kane (Alana Haim), a listless 25-year-old looking for a way forward. Over the course of disparate adventures and events, Gary and Alana gradually discover what they mean to each other. The 1970s portrayal of Anderson and the unique relationship between the two main characters won Licorice Pizza a lot of praise, but it also sparked some controversy over its more questionable elements.

Related: Why Paul Thomas Anderson’s New Movie Is Called Licorice Pizza


The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) released a statement to Rafu Shimpo Call for a boycott of award organizations Licorice Pizza for his repeated racist jokes. Although the statement was released last week, it only recently appeared to be gaining traction as Licorice Pizza went into wide circulation on Christmas Eve. According to MANAA, Anderson’s film does not deserve any accolades because of its occasional racism. The statement reads as follows:

Due to the occasional racism found in the movie “Licorice Pizza”, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) believes that Paul Thomas Anderson’s film does not deserve nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, or Best. original script, and calls on other film critics associations to bypass this awards season.

Covering him with nominations and awards would normalize a more blatant mockery of Asians in this country, sending the message that it is okay to make fun of them, even in an age when Asian Americans are afraid to go out into the world. street because of unprecedented levels. of violence from fellow Americans blaming them for COVID-19.

The newsworthy scenes from “Licorice Pizza”, set in 1973, do not advance the plot in any way and are included just for cheap laughs, reinforcing the idea that Asian Americans are “less than that. And perpetual strangers.



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The racist jokes in question involve John Michael Higgins’ businessman Jerry Frick, who appears twice in Licorice Pizza with two different Japanese wives. In both scenes, he uses a cartoonish and stereotypical Asian accent to address women (played by Yumi Mizui and Megumi Anjo). Plus, there’s a joke where Gary mistakes the second wife for the first, not realizing Jerry has remarried. According to the MANAA statement, Anderson defended these jokes in an interview by saying he wanted to be honest with the period Licorice Pizza is installed.

Licorice Pizza also sparked a conversation regarding the significant age gap between Gary and Alana, although that seems to be more of a gray area to some. When it comes to racist jokes, it’s fair to say that Anderson’s explanation of sticking to the set isn’t enough. Jerry’s character adds little to the story, and there’s no reason he should act so blatantly racist for a simple joke. Licorice Pizza already does enough through its production design, costumes and soundtrack to bring the ’70s to life; sprinkling with racism doesn’t do much else. MANAA has taken a stand against this, and only time will tell if others support them.


More: Licorice Pizza Cast & Character Guide

Source: Rafu Shimpo


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