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ASIAN AMERICANS PROTEST AGAINST RACIST MAGAZINE FEATURE
Action Alert - Asian Americans to Protest Details Magazine
Written by Doris Lin

Asian American activists and anti-racism activists will protest outside the offices of Details magazine at 7 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001 at 12:00 noon on Friday, April 16, 2004. Details magazine published a feature in its April 2004 issue titled, “Gay or Asian” that described Asian American men with such offensive terms as “bonsai ass” and “sashimi-smooth chest.” To view the page, please see the "Ad" listed below.

 
PROTEST DETAILS
 
Friday, April 16, 12:00 noon
7 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
 
Further Information at
(212) 560-5683
 
 
 

“The ‘Gay or Asian’ feature is offensive not only to Asian Americans, but to anyone who objects to racist humor,” says spokesperson Doris Lin. “If terms like ‘bonsai ass’ or ‘sashimi-smooth chest’ are not racist, what is? Asian Americans all over the country are outraged. We are demanding a full-page public apology in a future issue, and we are demanding that Details Magazine fire Whitney McNally, the author of the feature.”

This protest is being organized by Asian Media Watchdog. Asian Media Watchdog was founded by Colleen Eustice-Sakai and Jimmy Fujikawa. Our goal is to promote a fair and balanced portrayal of Asians and Asian Americans in the American entertainment industry.

We are demanding a full-page public apology in a future issue of the magazine, and we are demanding that Details magazine fire Whitney
McNally, the author of the feature.

x

ASIAN MEDIA WATCHDOG

This protest is being organized by Asian Media Watchdog. Asian Media Watchdog was founded by Colleen Eustice-Sakai and Jimmy Fujikawa. Our goal is to promote a fair and balanced portrayal of Asians and Asian Americans in the American entertainment industry. Asian Media Watchdog is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization.

How did Asian Media Watchdog come about?
On July 13, 2003, the Fox Broadcasting Corporation began airing an offensive television show called "Banzai". A yahoo group named Ban Banzai was created to protest the show by means of sending emails, writing letters, and placing phone calls to "Banzai" sponsors and urging them to withdraw their support for this show. After that campaign, a group of people from the yahoo board in New York City got together in the hopes creating a formal group to promote a fair and balanced portrayal of Asian American in the media industry, noticing the lack of such an advocacy group on the East Coast. After several member changes, Asian Media Watchdog was born.

Asian Media Watchdog is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization. For more information, please visit http://www.asianmediawatchdog.com or contact us at contact@asianmediawatchdog.com or (212) 560-5683.

DORIS LIN - She is an attorney, but not currently practicing. She works part-time for New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance and has worked for many progressive causes, including the environment and immigration. In law school, she was awarded the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association Outstanding Service Award.


DETAIL MAGAZINE AD
   

Please make and bring signs against racism, against Details magazine and against Whitney McNally. New York City law prohibits signs on wooden sticks, but you can bring signs on cardboard tubes or hand-held signs. If you are able to help publicize this protest, please email Doris at dlin@asianmediawatchdog.com with your snail mail address, and we can send you flyers that you can post in local stores or around college campuses. Flyers will be available after Friday, April 2.

OCA REBUKES BLATANT RACIAL STEREOTYPING IN DETAILS MAGAZINE ARTICLE

OCA denounces this column as wholly unacceptable. OCA aligns itself with those who fight for the justice of gay communities across the United States and finds Details' use of Asian cultural foods and traditions as a definition of "gay" to be homophobic and offensive to gay men both within the APA community and the gay community at large. Moreover, further offenses and trite generalizations about other communities will not be tolerated.

 
DETAIL MAGAZINE'S REPLY
 
Dear Mr. Wong,

Thank you for your letter regarding the "Gay or Asian?" piece, which ran in the April issue of Details. I regret that you were offended by the aforementioned story. Details is publishing a response, in the May issue, to the overwhelming amount of calls and letters the magazine has received on the offensive nature of this satirical editorial. It was not our intention for this story to hurt anyone of any race or sexual orientation. Your comments are appreciated and respected.

Kind regards, Dan Peres / Editor-in Chief - Details

"The Details article uses banal generalizations about Asian food and physical features of Asian Pacific American men. Details limits the image of APA males, which is blatantly offensive and dehumanizing to the APA population," said OCA National President, Raymond Wong. "The APA community will not allow Details to use us as limiting markers for the gay community whom we believe embody diverse images."

"This article evidences Details' lack of sophistication and complete disrespect for the APA community," said Christine Chen, OCA Executive Director. "APA males face systemic challenges from frequently being characterized as effeminate and meek, which emasculates them from the well-balanced personalities and images they evince. Ignorant articles like this one merely exacerbate the prevalent discrimination of APA males who already suffer from lack of representation in the media."

Today, OCA sent a letter to Details expressing its condemnation of this article. For an actual copy of the letter, please refer to the OCA website at www.ocanatl.org.

OCA calls on all concerned individuals to contact Details' editor-in-chief to immediately recall the April 2004 magazine, issue a formal apology to the APA community, and demand Details eliminate Whitney McNally's column from future publication.

 

DAILY NEWS ARTICLE
BOOK ON STEREOTYPE
Daily News Staff Writer Hugh Son wrote
The April 2004 issue of the magazine - which features fur-clad singer Nick Lachey on its cover - instructs readers how to discern whether a model is a homosexual or an Asian male in a full-page feature, titled "Gay or Asian?" that is loaded with double entendres that poke fun at stereotypes of Asians and gays. "One cruises for chicken; the other takes it General Tso-style," writes Details staffer Whitney McNally - Details magazine has a circulation of 400,000 and is carried in bookstores across the nation.

Details spokeswoman Andrea Kaplan said editors rushed to put a statement in their May issue after they were flooded with angry phone calls. "We regret the fact that anyone has been offended by this article, and we're sorry a piece of satire has been interpreted this way," Kaplan told the Daily News."Unintentional hate still hurts," responded Caryl Stern, associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League. She called the Details piece "horribly offensive."

 

 
 

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Poems, essays, paintings, and stories break down and challenge "found" articles, photographs, and headlines to create this powerful anthology with all the immediacy of social protest. By closely critiquing a wealth of material, including the judge's statement of apology in the Wen Ho Lee case, the media treatment of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, and the image of Asian Americans in major U.S. marketing campaigns, Screaming Monkeys will inspire all its readers. Purchase the book by clicking HERE.

PARTIAL LIST OF SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS

Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Audre Lorde Project – New York
Queer Asian Pacific Alliance (QAPA) – Boston, MA
Massachusetts Area South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (MASALA)
Providence Youth-Student Movement (PrYSM)
Asian/Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA) – Washington, DC
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS) – Washington, DC
KhushDC - Washington DC South Asian LGBT Organization
Al-Fatiha Foundation (Queer Muslims & Allies)
Asian Pacific Islanders for Human Rights (APIHR) – Los Angeles, CA
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

AAJA'S LETTER

Dear Mr. Peres,

We're not sure which is the more offensive aspect of "Gay or Asian?" by Whitney McNally in your April issue: its reduction of two minority groups to grabbags of demeaning stereotypes, or its utter lack of humor. But we'll focus on the former. While we can't figure out exactly what the feature is trying to say -- Asian men are gay? Asian men look gay? Asian men would be better off gay? -- there's no disguising the fact that it combines leering sexual innuendo and a litany of the most tired cliches about both Asian and gay culture with no goal other than to ridicule both groups.

Are we overreacting to a throwaway, front-of-the-book feature in a men's fashion magazine? No. The lack of care and taste isn't the only transgression here. Humor and "edginess" are not excuses for caricaturing and insult, and the particular caricatures being played upon here -- of gay men as predatory cruisers, of Asian men as exotic and effeminate (yet always scheming) -- are precisely those that have been most damaging through the years. Are there any other entire categories of men you would have felt comfortable making fun of entirely on the basis of sexuality? We think not; and we think that your readers would agree with us, and are too sophisticated to see anything funny in the portrayal.

On behalf of the 2,000 reporters, editors and industry executives of Asian descent represented by the Asian American Journalists Association, we ask that you issue an apology to the many Asian Americans who find this story offensive and pledge to take greater care in the future.

Sincerely,
Mae Cheng, AAJA National President
Abe Kwok, AAJA National Vice President for Print

 

 

 

 

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