Last week, we reported that the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans (MANAA) was demanding that the pilot episode of the new FOX comedy 'Dads' be re-shot to remove racist elements in the program. When FOX had failed to respond to MANAA's request in due time, MANAA elected to make the entire matter public by going to the media. Well today, MANAA got their response from FOX: a resounding "no."
The letter from MANAA requested that FOX re-shoot the "racist" scenes in the 'Dads' pilot. 'Dads' stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two best friends and video game developers who have their crass fathers move in with them and upend their lives. Comic legends Martin Mull and Peter Reigert play the characters' fathers, with stereotypical political incorectness dripping from every line of dialogue. Mull’s character, for instance, calls Asians “Orientals,” and says, of Chinese people, “There’s a reason ‘Shanghai’ is a verb.”
At the Television Critics Association conference a few weeks back, FOX defended the salty comedy on the program by explaining that the inappropriate comments were being made by the titular dads, two older men who are presented as having superannuated ideals. However, the scene that MANAA took the most issue with is a scene in which the sons are about to meet with Chinese businessmen and ask their Asian employee Veronica (Brenda Song) to dress up as a sexy schoolgirl. Green’s character suggests she also giggle demurely — “which is more a Japanese stereotype,” MANAA noted. “Supposedly all was made right when the Chinese agreed to the deal after the ‘creepy interpreter’ sent a picture of his penis to Song, who, predictably, said that it was tiny,” the organization complained in its letter.
Because the racism was stemming from the youthful heroic characters of the program, FOX's defense was moot, according to MANAA. Today, in response to MANAA's concerns, FOX released a statement of their own:
"You will see that Brenda Song’s character is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman who basically runs the company, and who almost always gets the upper hand." The release continued to explain that 'Dads' "is a show that will be evocative and will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries — sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations," adding, "The series is based heavily on the executive producers’ own lives, and the relationships between the fathers and sons on 'Dads' will continue to be the main driver of show’s comedic sensibility. Everyone involved with 'Dads' is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and ‘earns’ its audaciousness."
What do you think? Did 'Dads' go too far? Is FOX right to stand by their pilot in the face of controversy?