UPDATED, 2:50 PM: Alan Yang took to social media today to respond to the National Italian American Foundation’s negative reaction to his Emmy acceptance speech on Sunday. “The point isn’t to pit groups of people against each other,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was praising what I consider to be four masterpieces of film and TV.” Here is his post:
PREVIOUSLY, September 20: Alan Yang’s Emmy ceremony plea for Asian inclusion in Hollywood Sunday apparently didn’t go over well with everyone: The National Italian American Foundation is “disturbed” by what it’s calling the “public degradation” of its cultural history by the Master of None co-creator.
Yang, accepting the prize for Outstanding series comedy writing along with Master star and co-creator Aziz Ansari, noted that the populations of Italian Americans and Asian Americans are roughly the same in size – 17 million. “But they have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky and The Sopranos. We got Long Duk Dong,” he quipped. “We still got a long way to go.”
While the Asian community has long decried the Sixteen Candles character played by Gedde Watanabe as a racist stereotype, NIAF apparently feels the same about the Italian-centered classics Yang listed.
“The National Italian American Foundation is disturbed by the very public degradation of Italian American history that was part of the 2016 Emmy Awards that aired last Sunday night,” said NIAF President John M. Viola in a statement released today, “where Mr. Alan Yang — in accepting his award for best writing in a comedy series — compared Italian American representations in film and television to portrayals of Asian Americans, pointing out that our populations are similar in size and yet we have much more representation in film and television.
“Mr. Yang then listed what he considered to be notable representations of Italian Americans in the entertainment industry citing Goodfellas, The Godfather, and The Sopranos.
“Mr. Yang’s comments, while meant to point out the under-representation of Asian Americans in film, ended up including a reckless disregard for Italian Americans by citing films that portray Italian Americans as violent, dim-witted, and involved with organized crime — all three — and insensitive stereotypes that in no way reflect the lives of everyday Italian Americans.”
Yesterday, while at least one of Yang’s Twitter followers took issue the Italian reference (“Not all Italian-Americans consider Mafia movies to be a sign of diversity or inclusion”), Yang expressed gratitude to supporters: