There are probably four or five individuals out there who weren’t utterly appalled by M. Night Shyamalan’s last film, The Village, who are excited about the release of his newest film, Lady and the Water. Those who absolutely loathed the previous film will have no problem hating this movie too, though, it isn’t as horrible (kinda).

With this new film, however, M. Night involves himself in one of the worst crimes in cinematic history – the stereotyping of a certain ethnic group. We crackers have been doing it for a long time. Watch the westerns of the old days, when “enjuns” (Native Americans) flopped about, hooting and hollering crazy things, with feathers in their head, and so on. Surely this wasn’t the life of a Native American in the Wild West but it’s how we whiteys portrayed them.

Another one that is pretty common is the Asian stereotype. Two of the characters in Lady and the Water happen to be a mother-daughter pair of Koreans Americans (I think, as a friend and I had to search the internet for a possible answer). As I discussed this issue with fellow Film Threat scribe, Stina Chyn, she called what I had described to her of this family, “FOBs”. Fresh of the Boat immigrants. The mother in the film spoke Korean and Korean only (again, I could be wrong, as the film never specifies or it did so when I attempting suicide). The daughter, a so-called college student, spoke English with a horrifically white-sounding Asian accent. She would do typical things that the average white first-grader would mimic from cartoons.

Sayings like, “Young-Soon (her character name) work real hard in school.” People were laughing at the screening almost every time she appeared on screen. Was it supposed to be funny? If it was, only the whiteys in the audience were laughing.

Um, living in the city I do, I know plenty of FOBs and they never, never, refer to themselves in the third person. M. Night himself is an FOB, as he was indeed born in India (according to the IMDB). Does he wander about saying crap like, “M. Night make a movie with a real good ending. M. Night will make a movie about the 1800s but it will really be present day. M. Night will fool the world!”

Another thing crackers usually do when it comes to making fun of Asian immigrants is by having them use “R” sounds a lot. Ever see Christmas Story? “Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra ra.” M. Night stayed away from this one thankfully.

I watched this film with one of my friends who happens to be half Chinese, half Vietmanese. Every time this character came on screen, she squirmed in her seat. She asked me at one point, “Shouldn’t he know better?” I agreed.

Even though, there is nothing I can do about it. Congratulations M. Night, you just brought us back a few decades. Hope it feels good. I bet he wouldn’t smile if some white filmmaker directed a film about his life, casting that white dude who made fun of Kumar (remember that guy who said, “thank you, come again” in full Indian accent?) as M. Night.

M Night.jpg

Actually, I’d give my life to see that movie.

Posted on July 21, 2006 in Blogs by

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  1. Felix Vasquez Jr. on Fri, 21st Jul 2006 5:10 am 

    Even though I’m a fan of Shyamalan’s work, I can see why you or anyone would take umbrage to his stereotyping.

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  2. Michael Ferraro on Fri, 21st Jul 2006 5:57 am 

    A fan? I was. Up until about twenty minutes before Signs ended. Or until he made The Village. Or how awfully directed Unbreakable was, even though the script demanding much more.

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  3. Big Jon on Fri, 21st Jul 2006 6:20 am 

    Damn, Ferraro, you are the best 7AM review I read. I’m not too surprised. I’m betting their is a guy with a lot of producing money that thought the stereotype was still “fresh comedy” and poor M.Night just can’t stand up for himself. My card is American express.

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  4. Gigi on Fri, 21st Jul 2006 11:27 am 

    Mike, your drawings are getting more life like. Soon you will go to work as a sketch artist for the Florida State Police.

    I appreciate MNS in ways as he is trying to bring more sposhistication to horror films; even though I grew up with Freddy and Jason and the like, blood and guts for blood and guts sake is getting boring. Just like slipping tits in for no reason other than to try to exploit men to watch whatever piece of crap has the boobies in it. hoo ya.

    But eith MNS makes a good movie or a bad movie. I am still pissed about the time in my life lost in Unbreakable. I’d like to kick everyone’s ass involved in the making of that film. Signs was good, the village was different although a bit of a let down, 6th Sense completely brilliant. I will probbaly watch Lady in the Water, but this might be his last chance for a while.

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  5. YiQi on Fri, 21st Jul 2006 3:32 pm 

    a note. a footnote. appendix I part 3.

    FOB doesnt just refer to being fresh off the boat as an immigrant is when they’ve just landed in a new country. FOB is also a lifestyle, for lack of a better word…it’s a behavior too. it’s not just the bizarre pronunciation of english, with possibly even more bizarre intonations). as an adjective, a “fobby” accent is best demonstrated by Tai Mai Shu:

    (that song cracks me up).

    http://www.answers.com/topic/fresh-off-the-boat has some nice info. ie. “The term is commonly applied to Southern & Eastern Pacific Asians as well as Middle Easterners in the United States and Canada, and to Pacific Islanders in New Zealand and Australia. It was originally applied to European immigrants who had just stepped off of a ship.”

    Significantly, “The term implies that the person has not yet assimilated to the common regional culture, language, and behavior. FOBs tend to be identified by their fashion, behavior towards others, and their accents.”

    As this site notes,

    Not only is there a “fob,” but there is a SuperFob, a Fobabee, and a GangstaFob.

    ive only heard asians & asian-americans use the term “fob” or “fobby” to refer to another asian. and it’s usually not derogatory unless one is saying “i wouldnt date Kim JiHye..she’s such a fob.”

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  6. Raaj on Sat, 22nd Jul 2006 2:08 am 

    Maybe you guys should learn how to respect a film for a film. It was stereotypical on purpose. Does anyone get it? He does this stuff for a reason. He makes points on how society is and then asks us to self reflect. The critics arrogant, selfish attitude… The screenwriter’s loss of faith in his own work… People being afraid of one another…

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  7. Michael Ferraro on Sat, 22nd Jul 2006 5:45 am 

    Does anyone get it? Sure. Does it work? Of course not.

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  8. YiQi on Sat, 22nd Jul 2006 12:53 pm 

    i finally saw the film today…and i found myself very entertained when Mrs. Choi & her daughter were on screen. As far as that fobby accent goes, Christine Cheung (the actress) either had a really bad accent coach or she doesnt know any real Korean fobs. her voice went from Chinese fob to no accent to Jamaican..and sometimes in the same sentence.

    of course, the best part in the film is when Paul Giamatti is eating cookies & gets milk on his facial hair & lies down on the couch.

    i thought the the whole movie was silly but it didnt draw out disgust.

    christoper doyle’s aesthetic touch or style was only present in some of the camera movement.

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  9. Raaj on Sun, 23rd Jul 2006 12:07 am 

    I think it works. I get the purpose and I’m sorry people got offended. My experience was different. People weren’t laughing at Young-Soon constantly. By the way, Unbreakable is a fantastic movie and one of M. Night’s best.

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  10. Tordavis on Tue, 25th Jul 2006 9:31 am 

    The Asian languages don’t have “L’s” in them foolio! That’s why “R” is used instead.

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  11. YiQi on Tue, 25th Jul 2006 10:10 am 

    While I can’t speak for the various languages spoken in SE Asia, South Asia, or Mongolian or Tibetan,

    the R & L relationship doesnt apply to all Asian languages. it applies to Korean and Japanese. the question is, why would a Japanese or Korean person see an “L” in a romanized script and pronounce it like “r.” i’ve heard it before.

    there is no F or V sound in Korean. Thus, “narf” as a Korean myth? right. that makes sense. (m. night should’ve made it a fake icelandic myth. have bjork be the lady in the water!!!!)

    In Mandarin, there is an R sound, an L sound, and an F sound. Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Shanghainese (which is technically more of a dialect) also have R, L, and F.

    There is no R sound like there is in English. but there certainly is an “L” sound. the R is pronounced more like an L.

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  12. YiQi on Tue, 25th Jul 2006 1:23 pm 

    okay…that was weird…. that last sentence was supposed to be higher..

    that second paragraph should read:

    the R & L relationship doesnt apply to all Asian languages. it applies to Korean and Japanese. There is no R sound like there is in English. but there certainly is an “L” sound. the R is pronounced more like an L. the question is, why would a Japanese or Korean person see an “L” in a romanized script and pronounce it like “r.” i’ve heard it before.

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  13. guest on Sat, 1st Mar 2008 2:44 pm 

    M. Night is not a FOB, FOB is for people “Fresh off the Boat”, he was born in India but grew up in Philadelphia. So get that straight. You must think all his movies suck. Let’s see you do better.

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