Seriously? #Racist Thoroughly Modern Millie AGAIN?
Thoroughly Modern Millie is an Anti-Asian Racist Musical!
Boston Children’s Theatre proudly presents the high octane musical THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE JR. Featuring students from BCT’s pre-professional Summer Studios 3 program, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE JR is the story of a small-town girl who follows her dreams to the big city, where she finds romance, adventure and above all, fun. The show will have audiences dancing in the aisles!
These are all related posts on Thoroughly Modern Millie at Newton North High School:
These are other articles and posts related to Thoroughly Modern Millie at Newton North High School:
The Telegraph: US high school show triggers race row by David Millward
The Boston Globe: ‘Millie’ Fight Creates a Chilling Effect by Joan Vennochi
The Boston Globe: Musical is Little More Than Staged Racism by Jeffrey Melnick (Letter to Editor in response to Joan Vennochi’s article above).
Inside: Boston high school in trouble over racism in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’
A case study published by UMass Peter Kiang almost 20 years ago (see pages 9-13), parallels almost exactly what happened at Newton North High School. ScholarWorks at UMass Boston, We Could Shape It: Organizing for Asian American Student Empowerment by Peter Nien-Chu Kiang.
AsAm News: I Love Newton: High School Production Fails To Address Heavy Dose Of Asian American Stereotypes
The Boston Globe: Oh, by the way, how about a round of applause for the kids? (Letter to the Editor from a grandparent)
The Boston Globe: Choice, execution of musical informed by thoughful education process (Letter to the Editor from the writers who comprise the Theatre Arts Opportunity Committee at Newton North High School.)
The Boston Globe: We miss a vital chance for understanding when we swap out ethnic characters(Letter to the Editor from a great-grandmother, teacher and volunteer)
Pawprint: Millard West Student Newspaper: Through with Thoroughly Modern Millie
The Washington Post: Twenty-Three Skiddo: ‘Modern Millie’ Doesn’t Dance
It’s an attempt, sort of, at a parody of the old-style musicals of the ’20s and ’30s, the sort jerry-built out of cheerful songs, convoluted plots, elaborate tap demonstrations and derogatory stereotypes.
Project Muse: Thoroughly Modern Millie (review)
Not Like Crazy: An Easily Overlooked Racism?
In the Spring semester at school, the Musical Theater Department put on Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was overflowing with racism in its portrayal of Asians. I must say, I was thoroughly upset about the whole thing. First, the guys playing the Asians, I believe they were supposed to be Chinese immigrants, had white face makeup and slanty eyes. I couldn’t help but think that if they’d dressed in blackface, surely there’d be an uproar (Of course, they are putting on Ragtime this year, so we’ll see how they handle that– they’re already sending out emails about how they want the black students to try out for roles because there aren’t many black people in the musical theater department *eyeroll*). That wasn’t the only bad thing about the musical, however, the villian was a white woman pretending to be Asian who pronounced her L’s as R’s, and said she used soy sauce to clean a stain. Of course, she also treated the two Asian immigrants who worked for her as if they were stupid, and the silently and humbly submit in front of her, though behind closed doors they argue in Chinese (I guess it was real Chinese), with subtitles projected above the stage. And then one of the Asian men falls in love with one of the white women in the musical, blonde hair, blue eyes, you know the deal. At the end of the musical, they get together, as if his reward for working hard and being submissive, for being mistreated, is the gift of white womanhood, the pinnacle of creation. So yeah, I was pretty pissed about that whole thing.
Myvanwy: Review of Thoroughly Modern Millie
Someone sent me video of a local comedian’s youtube video of a character I’ve seen him portray once before. To call it infantile and racially insensitive would be a gross understatement. For the targets of his ridicule, it’s every bit as offensive as a mean-spirited performance in blackface. But because it’s against one of the few groups for whom bigotry, hostility, and ridicule is still acceptable (Chinese Americans and others of Asian and/or Pacific Island descent), it’s seen as okay by most and even encouraged by other local comedians. Kevin Marshall’s America
Zak Keith: Hollywood Asian Stereotypes
Racism against Asians is often “unawares”—a form of racism that flies under the radar due to its widespread acceptance as the norm. Its interactive dynamic resembles that of an unwritten social contract. Asians in the West are expected to accept patronizing remarks and racist taunts so demeaning that perpetrators would think twice before dishing them out with such unwavering consistency to any other minority group, such as Latinos or African Americans. Asians who object to such treatment are typically met with befuddlement and offense at their audacity to make an issue out of it.
p.p.s. Here are some related posts on my Asian American blog:
A Racist Bakesale Exposes Reverse Discrimination Against Asian Americans (I include this link because this is the real racist front that Asian Americans are currently fighting. All my posts on this topic are here.
Making us explain why Yellow Face is offensive is a waste of our time. I can’t believe this is still being used. In real life, has there ever been a white person pretending to be Asian? It’s only in the media and on the stage that this ridiculous premise exists.)
Mia Wenjen blogs at PragmaticMom: Education Matters, here and occasionally at her Asian American blog JadeLuckClub. She resides in Newton with her husband and three kids, the oldest of which will attend Newton North High School this fall. She can be found on Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Sulia, Google +, Instagram and YouTube.
Photo credit: Grasshopper and Sensei, my oldest.