MANAA, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (www.manaa.org), the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive, and positive coverage and depictions of Asian Americans, on July 25 issued a press release taking offense by Rob Schneider’s “yellow face” portrayal of a Japanese man in the current #1 movie in the country, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James.
In a scene where the main characters journey to Canada to get married, Schneider plays a minister who makes their union official, donning prosthetic make up (slanted eyes, bigger nose, darker skin color, etc.) to play a stereotypical Japanese nerd with thick eye-glasses and a bowl-style hair cut who speaks in broken English with missing “r”s.
Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, “I felt victimized by the stereotype shtick of … Schneider.” And Emmy-nominated actor Masi Oka (“Heroes”) told USA Today he was also offended by the yellow-face portrayal. Says MANAA Founding President Guy Aoki, “In August of 2006, shortly after Mel Gibson’s tirade against Jews, Schneider, pointing out he was half Jewish, took out a full page ad in Daily Variety promising to never work with the writer/director/actor. We wish Rob had the same pride about being part-Asian. Somehow, we don’t think he’d make the same assertion against someone who spouted anti-Asian hatred because the actor has himself done quite a good job of putting down people of Asian descent. As Richard Roeper of ‘Ebert and Roeper’ recently said in his review of Chuck and Larry, ‘Rob Schneider’s Filipino background [he’s a quarter] hardly excuses his portrayal of an Asian minister in perhaps the most egregious stereotype of its kind since Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’”
Rob Schneider also repeatedly perpetuated the tired stereotype that Asian men have small penises in a 2005 movie he co-wrote, Deuce Bigalo: European Gigolo” (e.g. an Asian male prostitute says in broken English, “I no more man-whore! Too much danger! I take my three inches elsewhere!”).
Besides an Asian American fireman who gets no lines, the only other Asian faces we see in Chuck and Larry are five Asian women who come out of a van wearing Hooters-like clothes to “pleasure” Chuck (Sandler) and who’re later seen “having fun” with each other while waiting for Chuck to come back to bed. “Therefore,” Aoki points out, “the impression people get from watching this film is that Asian men are disgusting-looking geeks and that Asian women are sluts.”
“Sandler showed his movie to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and edited out scenes they deemed offensive because he didn’t want to make a movie that would offend the gay community. He should’ve shown it to MANAA; we would’ve had quite a few things to say to him (MANAA has consulted with studios about their films, including Rising Sun and Pearl Harbor).” MANAA is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org, (213) 486-4433, and P.O. Box 11105/Burbank, CA 91510.