June 2, 2005
Written by C.N.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that they have obtained a copy of an training tape, produced in-house by the San Francisco 49ers’ public relations director Kirk Reynolds, which includes several off-color depictions of life in the San Francisco area. As the article notes, they include spoofs about lesbians, gay marriage, topless dancers, and unfortunately, about Asian Americans:
The 15-minute video . . . was intended as a primer on how players should handle the media in diverse San Francisco. Instead, it’s turned into a team embarrassment — with PR man Reynolds looking for another job. . .
[The video] opens with Reynolds impersonating the mayor and speaking directly into the camera about this “beautiful, diverse and tremendous city.” “I’m going to take you through the city,” Reynolds says — and what a trip it is.
First stop, Chinatown. Reynolds says the team reads everything written about the players and the organization. Then, to illustrate the point, a bespectacled, buck-toothed Chinese man in an aloha shirt (played by then-49ers trainer and martial arts expert George Chung) is asked to translate an Asian newspaper story.
Sure — the man says in theatrical Asian accent. “Tim Latte (Rattay, a Niners quarterback). He feel good now. He feeling good. No plactice with the team, so most of the time he play with himself.” Another show stopper: “49ers love being in community. Very patriotic . . . support president and his George Bush erection.”
“Erection?” Reynolds asks. “Yes,” the Chinese man responds. “It say, ‘You like Bush –then you like his erection.’ “My name is Suck Hung,” the Chinese man says as he’s leaving. “My brother’s name is Suck Young –my whole family suck.”
You can view each segment of the video at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/06/01/MNdisclaimer01.DTL but below is the segment set in Chinatown — judge for yourself if it is racist:
Needless to say, Gavin Newsom (SF’ss mayor) and the 49er ownership are not amused and Reynolds is now apparently looking for a new job. Although I can appreciate the “locker room” humor tone of the video, the fact that it uses the stereotype of nerdy Asian foreigners with exaggerated accents is very offensive. What’s even more offensive to me is that an Asian American (49er trainer) George Chung willingly participated in it and indeed played up his buffoon role.
Although the 49ers organization has apologized to the Chinese American community in San Francisco, it all goes to show that ignorance comes from both sides — Asian Americans are not immune to reinforcing and perpetuating stereotypes against themselves.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "49ers Video Promotes Anti-Asian Stereotypes" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/06/49ers-training-tape-promotes-anti-asian-stereotypes/> ().
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