By BOB SAN
AAP staff writer
TORONTO — “Pitch Perfect” (Universal, PG-13) is just another example of how Hollywood continues to make brazen racist jokes against Asians in films when has nothing to do with the storyline and distracts from the plot.
If not for its blatant and completely unnecessary insults on Asians, Pitch Perfect would have been one of the most enjoyable movies (along with Trouble With the Curve) I saw in 2012.
I went to see the film with high hopes in part for its lead actress, Anna Kendrick, who earned an Academy Award nomination for her brilliant performance as an ambitious young executive alongside George Clooney in the 2009 film “Up in the Air.” I wanted to see her in a lead role.
Pitch Perfect is about a female college acapella group. It tells of how the group failed at a national tournament and picked itself up after recruiting a diverse group of women — white girls like Kendrick, and several others, including an obese singer who called herself Fat Amy, a black lesbian, and an Asian who does not speak.
For the entire movie, “Lilly”, portrayed by Hana Mae Lee, murmured, moved her lips and never once spoke loud enough that I could hear her clearly. Lily was picked after auditioning for the group and I could not figure out why, based on how she was presented in the film.
It seemed clear to me that Hollywood was perpetuating its longstanding stereotype of Asians, especially Asian women, as meek, submissive and docile. Lilly is made to look weird and she acts funny, perpetuating another stereotype that Asians as a whole are foreign and just can’t mix within other groups or the mainstream.
As if this Lilly caricature isn’t offensive enough, the move makers added another Asian female caricature — the college roommate from hell.
Let me introduce Kimmy Jin, played by Jinhee Joung, the Korean roommate of Beca (Anna Kendrick). The first time Beca entered the room and introduced herself to Kimmy, she just stares at Beca with a growl on her face and turns her attention back to her laptop without so much as saying hello.
For the rest of the movie, every time we saw Kimmy, she was glowering at Beca and acting in a very antisocial behavior. The only time we saw Kimmy with a smile was when she said I am going to meet my friends and she ended up with students in the Korean Student Association.
In a way, I understand that the movie tries to poke fun at the increasingly segregated social atmosphere on college campuses. The problem I have is that it isn’t only Asians who tend to hang around with people similar to them. Other groups, including Whites, do as well and so why not make fun of those groups.
I worked on a large metropolitan college campus with these same student cultural groups for 20 years. The associations always make it a point to have open houses to welcome other students to visit. It is a resource of community and identity. It does not promote isolation and disinterest in the overall campus community.
More often it is the mainstream students that have no interest in others that do not wish to mix with other groups. That is why the smaller ethnic, cultural and social groups do so much outreach and awareness.
I don’t mean to beat my drum, but I just have a lot of trouble with the way this movie created two female Asian caricatures whose sole purpose was to perpetuate tired stereotypes. The movie would have been great without these two characters.
If the filmmakers were bent on created stereotypes then why not create the overachieving bookworm, pianist or violinist as is so often done and would have been appropriate for such a musical film — remember Tiger Mom?
The people who made Pitch Perfect went the other way, and in my opinion it went too far and ruined this movie for me.
This is not the worst example. But as Hollywood has long been praised for being sensitive and being ahead of the curve on racism and other social ills, and do they continue to perpetuate Asian stereotypes?
Approximately 74 percent of Asian Americans voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 Election. We are liberals just like Hollywood says we are. The Tea Party doesn’t even insult us in this way.
Hey Hollywood bozos stop picking on us!