Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars and Asians

I had no expectations for Oscar81 last night, but boy was the casual banter good. Even A.R. Rahman's "om" speech, which would have made me cringe last year, had its intended yogic effect this year, as I watched nervously for signs of anything remotely sincere or interesting in Hollywood.

I experienced awkward Asian pride when Kunio Kato, who won "Best Animated Short" against all Pixarian odds, finished his acceptance speech with:

Thank you, my company, Robot Corporation.
Domo arigato, Mr. Robot.

"Okuribito" won "Best Foreign Film" against "Waltz For Bashir"-odds, and half of Mumbai showed up for the "Slumdog Millionaire" win. For a split-second, Asia felt really big.

BUT! If anyone can screw up even the most miniscule attempts to address Asians, it's the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, along with the brain-dead media that covers the Oscars for no other reason than to print pictures of celebs.

Exhibit A: Kunio Kato is quoted in today's papers as having said "Domo arigato, Mr. Robotto" for apparently no reason. The LA Times and ABC news neglect to mention Robot Corportation is Mr. Kunio's production company name, making it sound like he was just being funny (and not also apt), and Daily Mainichi pretends he didn't say "Mr. Robotto" in the first place.

Exhibit B: During the "in memorium" montage, they commemorate the brilliant film auteur "Kon Ichikawa" but use a picture of Rentaro Mikuni, in a clip from "Burmese Harp," a film Ichikawa directed, in which Mikuni stars. Close, but no cigar. This is the equivalent of showing Tom Hanks in a tribute to Ron Howard. No excuse for poor googling in 2009. [Thanks, Marty]

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