As posted in http://www.asianweek.com/2009/05/28/pixar-is-moving-up/
Pixar is Moving Up
I love Pixar, but they must have finally noticed
my annual complaints in all its diversity, they have never before cast any
Asian characters. In Cars, they cast Cheech, but
passed over hippie Tommy Chong. Ratatouille’s
Collette looked Asian, but wasn’t cast that way. While a couple of mainstream
papers such as USA Today noticed, you’d think Pixar
was trying to keep it a secret when most review didn’t notice that Wilderness
Explorer Russell who keeps the grumpy old man company in his flying house is as
Asian American kid. Though his accent is American, he’s got those almond
eyes and straight black hair. Jordan Nagai is a Japanese American, which would
make him a sansei plus a couple of generations.
I loved ADAM 12, so NBC’s Southland looks interesting. But how can they get
away with zero Asian parts when there are more Asians than African Americans in
Maybe it’s not surprising that a movie starring Clint Eastwood was snubbed at the Academy Awards when it was about Asian gangs and racist Walter Kowalski who will point an M-1 rifle in your face and tell how he stacked dead Koreans like sandbags. Sue Lor (played by Ahney Her) tells adopted uncle Walter “Hmong are a people, not a place”, and “we send our girls to college, our boys to jail” But as an Asian, I see a reverse Kung Fu Kid story. To his Hmong neighbors, Walter represents the exotic culture of white guys who can fix anything with a slip wrench, WD-40 and duct tape. He demonstrates how to properly use ethnic insults as an informal communications style. He “mans up” his young Jedi apprentice Thao played by Bee Vang to ask out the girl and stand up to gangs. The Hmong witch doctor can see right through him while his own young Catholic priest is a joke. In the end, Wally sacrifices himself in a Christ-like pose to save his newly adopted Hmong extended family who treat him as a savior, though he is spurned by his own spoiled children. The boy carries on Walter’s legacy by driving the prized 1972 Gran Torino and Walter’s dog as he drives off past lakeshore. If you can step past political correctness, it’s a tribute to the movie’s quality that it is still playing in some theaters, but watch out for the DVD this summer.