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by guest contributor Calvin Sun, who's just earning his blogging chops, so please excuse the stylistic foibles. But speaking of 21, have you guys seen the My Sassy Girl trailer???

It's funny, with all that's going on with 21, I'm feeling coy irony. I first heard about Bringing Down the House (the book 21 is based on) a few years ago, when my brother (who also attended MIT for grad school) told me about how it was written about a bunch of MIT Asian American students who went to Vegas and skillfully used mathematics to literally "bring down the house."

The story became a novel, which then got turned into the movie that's now getting so much grease. As far as the information I've been given, it was the novel that initially changed the ethnicities of the characters (I didn't hear too much comparable controversy there). Kevin Spacey pretty much went ahead with the treatment and produced a film. Granted, even if the novel kept the ethnicities as Asian Americans, Kevin Spacey most likely would have still preferred the Caucasian remix. We've seen it done with The Departed and we almost seen it done with the Hollywood remake of Oldboy. What would stop Hollywood with 21?

Now the reason why I feel coy irony is because I saw this coming years ago...and I was only in high school! Why did we, as a collective APIA community, all wait until post-production to start a movement? The film's made, the damage has been done, and the best we can do now is to boycott last weekend's #1 movie in the box office? All this negative energy-- we could have started years ago when the book was published and prevented the Hollywood slap in the face. We could have compelled the execs to get more Asian Americans on the ticket during preproduction. Sure, we've been given amazing consolation prizes of the venerable Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira (Hollywood likes to give consolation prizes in preparation for any controversy; did you know that Justin Lin was set to direct the remake of Oldboy?), but perhaps we could have gotten something more worthy of the phrase "based on a true story." From that we could have created something positive out of this instead of waiting so late and being negative and angry.

Yes, I agree with AngryAsianMan's Phil Yu that anything that draws attention to create dialogue and begin scrutiny into the Hollywood casting is a good thing. But as Hollywood dictates, any publicity is good publicity... all I know is that any sort of controversy we create will now get the film more attention, ticket sales will go up, the chances of it succeeding will increase, the Hollywood execs will be happy, and then the formula will be repeated. Next? The Caucasian remix of The Motel.

I think the best thing we can learn is to pay more attention to current events and rally together sooner. We should have seen this coming. We should have started talking when the book came out and began our steps in encouraging Hollywood to get more Asian Americans on the big screen for the film. Instead we're playing our respective role as a cog in the Hollywood machine; an uproar during a film's publicity campaign could not have been sweeter for the Hollywood execs. In their language, for every person that boycotts there's two people that becomes interested in the film. That's Hollywood mathematics for you; they've managed to bring down the house for APAs and run away with the dinero. We may have sowed the seeds for the next Hollywood remake of Better Luck Tomorrow, starring Hayden Christensen.

Let's refrain from idling with the popcorn next time.


  1. Calvin/soho said...

    "stylistic foibles"

    i hate/love you.

  2. Marilla said...

    i still don't understand what coy irony is.  

  3. Calvin/soho said...



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