- Alison Huges
Boycott the SyFy Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy screening of the racist "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
On Thursday August 11th, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy with the sponsorship of the SYFY Channel plans to screen "Breakfast at Tiffany's" free for the public. This 1961 film features a blatantly-racist, minstrel-show, buck-toothed portrayal of a Japanese American, played by Mickey Rooney which has for decades offended the Asian-American community and its allies. Please boycott this film, the SyFy Movies with a View series, and let people know that despite direct communication from the NY Asian American community, the BBPC is committed to showing this horribly offensive film, which it calls a "beloved" "American classic". The film series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
In 2008, a similar public outdoor screening was successfully aborted by the city of Sacramento in response to protests over the yellowface Mr. Yunioshi caricature. The controversy over Mickey Rooney's bumbling portrayal is not new, and the BBPC and SyFy should be aware of the impact of putting this offensive portrait on the big screen.
Why any publicly funded organization in a city where 1-in-8 residents are Asian-American or any channel with a huge Asian-American viewership would choose to show a film with a racist caricature like this is beyond me. It's not funny; It's not classic; It's not beloved to us. By screening this film, the organizers are sanctioning the racism it contains, and subjecting new audiences (including children and Asian-Americans) to a minstrel show of racist ideology. It's 2011. It's New York. Do we still have to fight the hostile, hurtful world of 1961 Hollywood?
Syfy Movies With A View is presented by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy in partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. Ongoing public support is provided by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, NYS Senator Daniel Squadron, NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery, NYS Senator Martin Golden, NYS Assembly Member James Brennan, NYS Assembly Member Joan Millman, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Council Member Leticia James, NYC Council Member Brad Lander, NYC Council Member Stephen Levin, NYC Council Member Domenic Recchia, Jr., and the Brooklyn delegation of the New York City Council.
- Alison Huges
I'm writing to urge you to replace "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in your line-up with a film that is not offensive to 1-out-of-8 of your potential audience members. Asian Americans find this to be one of the most horrible portrayals of Asians in Hollywood, and though I understand you have committed advertising and energy to the screening of this movie, you are severely underestimating the emotional and political cost of Rooney's racist portrayal. Please select another film to show in your festival and I'm happy to lend my support.
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