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the death of (icebox.com's)
m r .   w o n g

written by doris lin



The Writer
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.

THE WORD "RACISM"
is so loaded, with such strong negative connotations, that I do not use it lightly. "Mr. Wong" was the most racist portrayal of an Asian-American I had seen in a long time. Produced by Icebox.com, the cartoon featured a hunchbacked, yellow-skinned, squinty-eyed character who spoke with a thick accent and starred in an interactive music video titled "Saturday Night Yellow Fever." If this is not racist, what is?

ON THEIR SITE and in several online articles, Icebox claimed to be "pushing the envelope" and continued showing "Mr. Wong," despite protests from Asian-Americans groups and the NAACP. In an August 7, 2000 article on CNN.com, Steve Sanford of Icebox stated, "The intent of Mr. Wong is humor and it's not intended to hurt anyone or to depict any group in a light that anyone would take seriously, and so we hope that people can see it from that view." To me, it sounded like Sanford was saying, "Racism in the form of a cartoon is not racism." Fans of the cartoon posted comments on Icebox.com, defending the cartoon as "just a cartoon." It didn't occur to them that it was a racist cartoon, no matter how humorous they thought it was.


Media Representations
good and bad examples

Media representations often continues incorrect and false stereotypical images from the past. This can be seen with the recent debacle of the false imprisonment of Wen Ho Lee and in the Jet Li character in Romeo Must Die.

What is ironic is that there has been major films from the past that has featured a US Asian/Asian Pacific American actor in an interracial romance/marriage with a white woman (Crimson Kimono) and where where the US Asian/Asian Pacific American male "won" the white woman from his white male competitor?!?! (i.e. Bridge to the Sun. .

ASIAN AMERICAN ACTIVISTS quickly mobilized. When news got out that Artisan Entertainment was in negotiations with Icebox to turn "Mr. Wong" into a movie, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition initiated a letter-writing campaign that successfully convinced Artisan to drop the project. The Coalition later took out an advertisement in Daily Variety criticizing the cartoon and thanking Artisan for abandoning the movie project. Next, a grassroots letter-writing campaign convinced seven advertisers to pull their advertising banners from Icebox.com.

IN NOVEMBER, 2000, Icebox laid off fifty of their one hundred employees. Two months later, another eleven were laid off. By February 2, 2001, Icebox's president, Gary Levine, left the company and Daily Variety reported that Icebox would shut down soon if they failed to procure new funding. On February 9, 2001, Icebox shut down completely. Icebox.com is now a blank, white screen.

ONLINE ARTICLES blamed Icebox's demise on the industry-wide dot-com slump. However, the failed movie deal and the loss of advertising revenue could not have helped, and we can all be proud of our part in stopping "Mr. Wong".




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