Banzai on Fox|
2003-07-15, 10:04 a.m.
Learn about the show FOX is running and how it relies on exploiting sterotypes about Asians. Links are in the text and a petition is here. Probably a more effective method is to write the .
To: FOX Broadcasting Co. (U.S.)
Asian Americans have had a long history of suffering discrimination and persecution because of the widespread misperception that all ethnic Asians are socially and culturally un-American. Stereotypical media portrayals of manic, socially awkward Asian men with thick glasses and thicker accents reinforce this misperception, as does the near-total absence of countervailing portrayals of Asian Americans functioning as recognizable members of American society.
The FOX television network's decision to broadcast and promote the TV show "Banzai" shows a blatant disregard for the consequences and power of racial media stereotypes. Asian American children are especially susceptible to the taunts and ostracism of their peers, who are likely to be entertained by the show's simplistic comedy premises and fast pace, but are unlikely to have developed the critical facilities necessary to reject the stereotypes presented.
More generally, to date there has been no indication that FOX ever intended the viewers of "Banzai" to question the portrayals of Asian men that constitute the show's signature images. To the contrary, as a patently mindless entertainment vehicle, "Banzai" is not intended for viewing with a socially critical eye.
Some defenders of "Banzai" have suggested that the show doesn't promote stereotypes, but rather makes fun of them. The cartoon at this link illustrates the absurdity of this premise.
Still other supporters of the show point out that it is based on game shows that were created in Japan. Of course, the show's creative history does not alter the fact that the portrayals in FOX's show are demeaning stereotypes when seen from an American audience's perspective. Nor does it mitigate the consequences of the widespread viewing of these portrayals for Asian Americans, especially our children. Finally, it does not disqualify Asian Americans from criticizing the show, because Asian Americans are no more responsible for Japanese television productions than the Japanese American World War II internees were responsible for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Other defenders of "Banzai" have expressed outrage that Asian Americans should find cause for complaint about anything having to do with race relations in the United States. The voices of Asian Americans are so rarely heard in the mainstream media, and the history of Asian Americans in the United States is so rarely taught, that the relevance of race to the experiences of Asian Americans comes as a surprise to many people.
Many Americans are heavily invested in the stereotype of Asian Americans as "honorary whites" for whom race no longer creates a social stigma. They desperately cling to any anecdotal evidence they can find that will support this investment: the complicity of a few Asian actors in the production of "Banzai" or a few Asian friends who don't find the show offensive. As we bear witness in contradiction of these views, we expect to reap a whirlwind of outrage from those we have surprised with our rejection of the title of "honorary white."
We, the Undersigned, will boycott all FOX Broadcasting Company properties, including FOX, FX, FOX News Channel, FOX Movie Channel, National Geographic Channel, Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports World, and Speed Channel, for a period of two (2) months for each week that "Banzai" remains on the air. We will also support a boycott of prominent sponsors of FOX and Banzai.
For more information on the boycott, visit
"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.