I'm Skipping the New "Karate Kid" Film...

...for obvious reasons.

*shakes heads*

Let me just say this.  A commenter on here wrote "they were in China so I would have not have assumed that the antagonist wouldn't be Chinese."  But by that logic, the protagonist should also be Chinese.

Here's what I'm getting at: with all the films depicting white kid heroes flooding our screens, yes...we need more POC in such roles.  Do we need such roles at the expense of other POC?  Absolutely not.

They could've filmed the movie in America and dealt with bullies here.  They could've discussed all the home-grown racial conflicts we've got right here.  Plenty of children of color would've identified with that shit.

I do, however, whole-heartedly co-sign with this part of the comment:

1. Whether or not Jaden Smith can act is subjective and a matter of opinion. I think he did a fine job in The Pursuit of Happyness and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I hated what they did to his character in the latter movie, but he did a good job with the material that he was given. This is an 11 year-old child you're talking about. Give him a chance to grow. The actors in the Harry Potter series were rough around the edges when they first came out too.

2. I don't get why studios feel the need to remake old movies either, but it is what it is. No one forces anyone to see a particular movie. If you don't want to see it then don't. Why get so emotional over whether you think any movie deserves to be remade?

Like I said, peeps...POC need healthy foundations in film & TV, and we needed them yesterday.

Comments

  1. Okay, in an effort not to make this about me, but also to simultaneously make it about me (I know, I know, that makes no sense, but since the last comment was addressed to me I can kinda make this about me...right?), I would like to say that I concede to Sheryl's initial 2 points.

    How I feel about Jaden Smith's acting ability should have no bearing on my discussion of the film and its merits; those are two entirely separate points. Further, I agree, to a point, with the notion that I was overly emotional about this remake.*

    However, I disagree entirely with points 3 and 4.

    In regards to number 3...where do I even start with number 3? I mean are we talking about giving Jaden's character the token Asian as a friend? Seriously? Like the Sassy Black Chick trope and stuff? Because that's about the only way, with the Karate Kid as it is, I could see that working out. Additionally, if they were going to have him fighting Asian kids, primarily, the could have at least evened it out with a random black kid and a Latino kid (after all, I'm sure Dre's mother wasn't the only one who had her job relocated).

    As far as point number 4 is concerned...well I'm sorry, but you have me completely flabbergasted with this one. As a black male I love films that break the stereotype (no matter how few there may be). However, I refuse to support a movie that does this to the detriment of other people of color, I absolutely refuse to do so.

    When this movie was first announced I was geeked; not because I loved the first film, but rather because I thought they had, in a way, managed to subvert it by having a black male simply inserted into the lead role. Seriously, I'm sure there are a bunch of little boys in L.A. and Northern Cali. who would love to see the race issues there addressed on the big screen. However, when I found out that it was set in China and I also found out who the antagonists were that's when I began to decry this film.

    Maybe it was because of Avatar (both of them), maybe it was Prince of Persia (with no real Persians), or maybe it was any number of "major motion pictures" released around the same time. Regardless, my thought process was simply this. POC cannot afford to do this crap to one another; we can't afford to enforce the negativity we receive upon one another; POC need to be a step ahead of this twisted game, even if, in the immediate future, we find ourselves even further limited for a time. The movies we make have to be a cut above, otherwise we're just perpetuating a system that is detrimental to us all. So if I seem a little sensitive when posting, well these are the reasons why.

    *I boycott all remakes (unless they're really good), by the way, because that is one of the most effective means of insuring that Hollywood will not continue to produce them.

    **Also, I am pissed about Avatar the Last Airbender for too many reasons to count. But yes, I absolutely loathe the fact that there are no Asian leads for a cartoon turned movie that is primarily based in Inuit and Eastern thought, culture, etc. What they did is the equivalent of white washing Kirikou et la sorciere.

    ***Also, while the Karate Kid's message is overcoming adversity there was a way that they should have gone making it and they didn't.

    P.S.-Sorry if this is too long Moi.

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  2. I saw the movie this past Sat. with my 9 yr old daughter and all she kept saying as we left the theatre was, “That movie was awesome.” Now we see most Disney, Pixar and super hero flicks that come out, and I can’t remember the last time that she said that about any movie. We both enjoyed it. I laughed, I cried (cause I’m a sap),I cheered. The theatre was packed with people of all colors, and people were standing in line to get into the theatre when we got out. I also can’t remember the last movie that I saw where the audience was cheering throughout the film and clapped wildly when the credits started to roll.

    That right there more than anything convinced me that people will go see a movie that doesn’t have any white leads. Hollywood just has to start having the balls to make them. That’s one of the reasons why I said that I don’t hate on Will and Jada at all for doing what they had to do to get the film made.

    The smiles that I saw on young black boys faces as we left the theatre warmed my heart, and I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to see a movie where someone who looks like them has the lead role. And people are cheering for him to succeed, and people are wincing when he gets beat up, and people are feeling his pain when he’s crying to go home because he feels like such an outsider. That had to feel good.

    There’s a catch-22 there, I think. If we don’t turn out to see movies like The Karate Kid or The Princess and the Frog, and the films do poorly at the box office, Hollywood will use that as an excuse not to make them. But if we do go and see them, and they do well at the box office, but they’re not effing it up racially, they may not evolve to a more acceptable level. Conundrum.

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  3. I did expect to see a little bit more in this post based on what the initial poster had posted. I respect your right to skip this movie, but I'll guess I'll have to go elsewhere to satisfy my need for discussion on that.

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  4. Now we're gettin' started.

    Sorry, Sheryl, if this post disappoints. I can't talk more about the film because - obviously - I haven't seen it.

    I just don't like these subtle divide-and-conquer strategies at play. When this film was first announced a couple of years ago, and the plot & cast were revealed, I immediately sought out Asian opinions online. Needless to say...not happy. By the way...still not happy. Like, seriously...not happy at all.

    I truly think its sweet the Smiths did what they did for their son. However, they should fucking know better by now.

    I'm glad that young black boys got to see themselves looking awesome on the big screen, but...what do young Asian boys get? Screwed over - AGAIN.

    The key here is for people (POC especially) to NOT invoke the "Avatar Defense", no matter how tempting it may.

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  5. But if we do go and see them, and they do well at the box office, but they’re not effing it up racially, they may not evolve to a more acceptable level. Conundrum.

    I meant "but they're effing it up racially..."

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  6. From Dr. Vagrant X

    "@cinnamon: I'm not going to begrudge POC their decision to see this movie if they so choose (I didn't begrudge anyone for seeing Avatar and claiming that it was amazing. To each is own I suppose). My decision not to see it is a personal one. If someone wants to see the Karate Kid, then, by all means, please do. Black actors need to eat too, so, like you said, it's a Catch-22."

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  7. Once again, I'm conflicted. This stems from my knowledge of Hollywood, Chinese from China and my own experiences living and traveling in Asia.

    On the surface, it appears to be a good idea to boycott this film. Under normal circumstances, I probably would argue that this is a case where one group of POCs is advancing at the expense of another group of POCs.

    If any non-Caucasian group other than Chinese (from China) were involved, I might agree. Since they are. I can't.

    This remake was co-produced (i.e. co-paid) by Chinese. They marketed this movie in Asia like it was the last movie on Earth. Whatever was shown on the screen, good, bad or ugly, was approved of and promoted by Chinese big wigs. They absolutely would not have invested in this movie unless it served their purposes. If anything they used Hollywood.

    They also used Jaden Smith. If anyone wants to boycott the movie, then do it on behalf of this kid because if it had tanked, he would have been blamed. He was used for his father's name value. I'm sure they didn't expect much out of him and I'm thankful that he proved them wrong and he held his own.

    Admittedly, I don't know much about the plight of Chinese-Americans, but I do know Chinese from China. I lived with them. I worked with them. I went to school with them.

    The protagonist was the black son of a single mother who was forced to move to China to get a job. I'm absolutely certain whatever bullying was shown on the screen was glossed over. I doubt it even skimmed the surface of what a child like that would experience in Asia, especially China. I'll be grateful if young Mr. Smith got a Hollywood ending instead of a Chinese one.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the general consensus was, "Look, Jackie Chan taught that little monkey how to be as civilized as we are."

    Do I think hyphenated Americans got screwed? Naturally, but this time it wasn't only Hollywood's fault.

    Will I see this movie? Yes, but not in the theaters. I try to avoid funding China.

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  8. Hateya, you raise EXCELLENT points.

    It's very likely the Chinese don't give a fuck.

    But over here...Stateside...as usual, it's not so great.

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  9. @Moi

    But over here...Stateside...as usual, it's not so great.

    I said I didn't understand the plight of our fellow Americans; however, I am learning. You are teaching me through your "Unappreciated Actor/Actress/Musician of Color and Another Color" series. I had never seen or heard of some of those amazingly talented people. Now that I know who they are, I can be proactive... legally!

    I'm still trying to get your books, too. I should wire myself some dollars and try from Amazon.com instead.

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  10. I loved the original and I plan on seeing this one too. My only concern is that the title is still Karate Kid even though it is in China and he is doing Kung Fu. Why not just call it the Kung Fu Kid and say it is inspired by the original? It is a different story anyway, plus most of the youth that will see this are too young to remember the Karate Kid brand name, or is this for their parents?

    As far as Black vs Chinese relations. The main problem is that in America we stereotype Asians and do not differentiate between different countries or Chinese American vs Chinese.

    It doesn't seem unrealistic to me for a brown kid in China (of any nationality) to be bullied given how color conscious things are. Plus add the single parent angle and that is even more reason to be bullied.

    I'll have more to say after I see it but for now I'm optimistic that the movie will not be full of Race Fail.

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  11. Nothin' but love, Hateya - wasn't accusing...just clarifying for folks.

    By the way, you are SUCH a flatterer.

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  12. Hey Moi,
    This is Julia from swpd. I'm wondering if you might be willing to expand on this idea--"with all the films depicting white kid heroes flooding our screens, yes...we need more POC in such roles. Do we need such roles at the expense of other POC? Absolutely not"--in a longer post? I would love to crosspost such a piece to Love Isn't enough (loveisntenough.com), a blog about parenting and race that I am (as of today!) a co-editor of...

    Of course, we would attribute your work, link to your blog, etc.

    Totally no pressure. But I think it would be fantastic if you're up for it.

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  13. @ Julia

    I could probably do something like that, but I would need a while.

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  14. @TheLady

    As far as Black vs Chinese relations. The main problem is that in America we stereotype Asians and do not differentiate between different countries or Chinese American vs Chinese.

    You've touched upon something interesting here, too. While it's true that Americans are guilty in this area, this guilt extends to Asian-Americans as well. They have this tendency to identify themselves with countries many of them know nothing about and couldn't possibly navigate even if their lives depended upon it.

    Here's the thing. There never would have been a Karate Kid remake with Jackie Chan and a Chinese-American kid. A majority of Chinese would have balked at the thought. In the overall scheme of things, it's something too ridiculous to even consider especially when Jackie Chan could have made a perfectly good Chinese movie with a Chinese-Chinese kid who speaks Mandarin.

    Furthermore, in the eyes of many Asians in Asia, we are as exotic and animalistic and aggressive to them as we are to "whites." In their eyes, we also have limited range and scope. As such, I'm sure they had a wonderful time watching Will Smith's kid go through to ringer even though he got the Hollywood ending as per the original.

    I wish I could be more rosy about these things, but reality sucks. In truth, I don't see how an American non-Caucasian-mixed Asian child can make a huge impact on the Hollywood market or the world stage.

    I remember the Star Trek tour... John Cho was virtually ignored by Asians in Asia. Even Rain's Ninja Assassin fell under the radar here. That's not Hollywood's fault because their main goal is exploitation for profit. It's a sad truth, but Zac Efron would have made a killing here in Asia if he'd had the role of Raizo. This does not compute.

    Something is screwed up in the world.

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  15. Furthermore, in the eyes of many Asians in Asia, we are as exotic and animalistic and aggressive to them as we are to "whites." In their eyes, we also have limited range and scope.

    Okay, Hateya, you gotta give us more. You've spoken to me a lot about the blatant sexism and racism in Asia, but you speak quite fondly of living in Japan. What is it - aside for your husband - which keeps you there? Because you come off more pessimistic than progressive - I mean, to the casual black reader, it sounds like traveling to Asia is to simply go to an older, more culturally diverse version of the United States.

    "Why go see the world if it doesn't want to see me?"

    You've got to give us more information. Like, say...in a guest post, perhaps?

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  16. but you speak quite fondly of living in Japan.

    If you want to visit Asia as a tourist, I say go ahead. You'll have fantastic time. The locals will see to it that you leave with the very best impression possible. If you spend two or three weeks in the Ring of Fire, you'll be in paradise (if you have enough money).

    What keeps me in Japan other than my husband? Nothing. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here because I wouldn't work as a slave as an English teacher, a hip-hop artist to be ripped off or a prostitute. In simplest terms, I can afford to be fond of my husband's country because he protects me with his rank. My lovely home, my plushy job and the places guaranteed my children at a national (former imperial) university come from his hard work and sacrifice.

    "Why go see the world if it doesn't want to see me?"

    Because it's there and we have as much right to it as anyone else.

    you come off more pessimistic than progressive

    I was hoping to come off realistic. The first rule of survival and succeeding is knowing where you are and what you're doing. Knowledge is power. It pays to be well-rounded, to understand as many sides as possible. I can only offer one side and I do so with the intent of sharing pertinent information to people who might not be as fortunate as I am. In fact, I hope and pray that they'll be better off than I am.

    Maybe one day we'll live in a border-less world. I hope to see it in my lifetime.

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  17. "I remember the Star Trek tour... John Cho was virtually ignored by Asians in Asia. Even Rain's Ninja Assassin fell under the radar here. That's not Hollywood's fault because their main goal is exploitation for profit. It's a sad truth, but Zac Efron would have made a killing here in Asia if he'd had the role of Raizo. This does not compute.

    I can sort of justify ignoring John Cho in Korea where they have plenty of tall fine Korean actors to look at but in the rest of Asia too?
    Zac Efron, I do not get him at all. He is short with a mediocre voice, ok dance skills, and a bad hair cut. Any Asian who would shove Rain out of the way to get to Efron is an idiot.

    As far as discrimination goes, if I was traveling around Asia, as a Black person I would/could tolerate being treated like an exotic other as long as no one touches me. It is when Asian Americans or Asian's that visit America discriminate against me in my own damn country that I get mad.

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  18. @ Hateya,

    Because it's there and we have as much right to it as anyone else.

    I believe that's what the colonialists said when they first set off to wreck everyone else's lives.

    I was hoping to come off realistic.

    To say POC have issues with one another, however, is redundant and ultimately counterproductive.

    I'm all about solutions. That's what I do - I problem-solve. That's what all my blogs and comms are about - problem-solving. Thinking outside the box and trying to cater to the needs of as many different POC as possible. Why? Because we need it.

    We need pairings like Raizo and Mika. We need heroes like rapper "T" and champions like Cheltzie Lee. We need artists like Toshi Kubota and Mos Def to collaborate.

    So...tell me: what do you propose as a solution?

    My apology to our artists of color is about solutions. They've tried. They're still trying. And not only are they trying very hard, but they need us to know it and they need us to back them up.

    What keeps me in Japan other than my husband? Nothing. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here because I wouldn't work as a slave as an English teacher, a hip-hop artist to be ripped off or a prostitute. In simplest terms, I can afford to be fond of my husband's country because he protects me with his rank.

    Wow.

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  19. @theLady

    As per John Cho, it's a catch-22 to be an "overseas" Korean/Japanese/Chinese. Ultimately, he probably isn't different enough and there's a sort of taint associated with him not exactly being one of them. Think about this in terms of Americans who choose to live overseas. We are labeled expatriates even though we retain citizenship and we pay our taxes to BOTH countries. Most people translate this as meaning "ex-patriots." It's possible Asians see their kin in the same vein.

    as a Black person I would/could tolerate being treated like an exotic other as long as no one touches me.

    Brace yourself. In some places you'll be touched...a lot. For me personally, the absolute best countries are the Philippines and Vietnam. Despite the atrocities our government committed in these countries, in general, the people are fantastic and they aren't afraid to share HISTORY with us. And they do this without passing judgment on individual people.

    Zac Efron vs. Rain

    Perhaps it's the desire to see something different coming into play again. Celebrities here actually get far more daily exposure than they do stateside. It's possible people are just burned out on seeing the same people all the time.

    Efron seems to be a nice enough kid with good manners. Otherwise, I don't think he's exceptional. Neither are his abs.

    It is when Asian Americans or Asian's that visit America discriminate against me in my own damn country that I get mad.

    I grew up in the Deep South, the hotbed of the KKK; therefore, my exposure to Asian Americans was extremely limited. I believe this lack of contact worked out best because I had no real preconceived notions about them. The extent of my Asian connection was/is my undying love for Bruce Lee. I grew up on his films and interviews. Not only was he my first Mandarin teacher (he taught me to count to ten), he was also the first to teach me to never allow anyone to place chains on my mind.

    I left the US because I believed they were withholding knowledge from me. To this day, my brain is struggling mightily to catch up.

    If you ever decide to travel over here, let me know. Japan's main island is fairly easy to navigate. My island is beautiful and cold. There are also more cows and bears on the east side than people. :D

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  20. RE: John Cho, I get it. Reminds me of my former coworker, she is a South African of South Asian (mostly Indian) descent. The Indian international students on campus hated her. She is Hindu, wheres traditional attire on special occasions and even eats the same food. But she doesn't speak any Indian languages and they think something is wrong with her. The Indian males tolerated her but the women were vicious. All of her friends were Black (African or American).

    Re: touching Black people
    Yeah I've heard stories of that from a woman that taught in Japan and my friend who interned in Shanghai for his MBA. He is a big guy 6'2 200 lbs and other men would walk up to him and grab his pecs! He is from Cameroon so a lot of people assumed he was a Nigerian drug dealer.

    Disgrasian did a movie review that says there is a lot of hair touching in the new Karate Kid movie. At least 3 instances in the movie of people touching Jaden's hair.

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