The Change Up (2011)

THE CHANGE UP (2011)Japanese law firm Kinkabe is buying out an Euro-American law firm, Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) mystically switches bodies with lawyer Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) and spews racism on stone-faced Japanese lawyers by imitating supposed Asian accent, while saying “everybody rich!”, “some sushi and sake bombs,” and “little karaoke for dessert”. There is no verbal protest against this racism from anyone in the law office including the Asians. Lockwood’s boss Flemming Steel says that his clothing makes him look like a Jew. Mitch (in Lockwood’s body) has a problem with this anti-Semitic comment but not his own previous anti-Japanese racism. So rich, arrogant ‘Japs’ are buying out America but a racist European male (Planko) is the good guy who is able to extract an additional $100 million from Kinkabe because he is convinced they are willing to spend more as they have not walked out of mediation. The female Asian mediator is named Erin Walsh, suggestive of non-Asian intermarriage. So here’s the Hollywood logic, since one guy is anti-Asian and the other is anti-Jewish, then there isn’t any anti-Asian racism from Jews. Because a referenced Jew is somehow the same as a direct verbal racist verbal insult. As the picture suggests, the main aim of the show is the repetitive hyper-hetero-sexualization of the Euro-American male. It does so however, by using ethnic and sexual minorities for laughs.

Update: A Screen Demon reviewer also adds that the Japanese are referred to as “Kamikaze Squids” [http://screendemon.com/2012/01/28/review-the-change-up-dvd/].

The following sites mention the anti-Semitic comment but not the anti-Asian comments.

The following sites mention both or only the anti-Asian comments.

One of the better reviews is from Daniel Carlson:

Mitch finds himself unable to fake his way through Dave’s job — which is reassuring, since Dave has a law degree — so he winds up jeopardizing a potential merger with a Japanese company. Yet Mitch isn’t just incompetent. He’s callous and cruel, and impossible to like. It’s not enough for him to be hung up on his own insecurities: Lucas and Moore make him racist and homophobic, as if being brash and offensive to all quadrants were the same thing as having a point of view. He uses the word “gay” as a pejorative dismissal and refers to the Japanese businessmen as “squids,” “Japs,” and “kamikaze pilots,” all (I believe) in one sentence. (Not to be ignored, Dave’s boss at one point tells him to change out of his blazer-and-slacks combo because he looked “like a Jew.”) He’s thoroughly off-putting, but then, this is what Lucas and Moore do. They ascribe awful character traits to a paper-thin character, make him smug beyond belief, and roll the dice that a handsome enough actor will be able to distract people from the fact that the character’s a sociopath. It worked for Bradley Cooper’s self-centered philanderer in The Hangover (“worked” here obviously meaning that their plan was executed, not that it was a good idea), and they return to the polluted well for The Change-Up.

Carlson, Daniel. 2011. The Change-Up Review: It’s a Nightmare, and Then There’s Boners In It Somehow. Pajiba. [http://www.pajiba.com/film_reviews/the-changeup-review-its-a-nightmare-and-then-theres-boners-in-it-somehow.php]

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Ethnic Musings

The point of this site is to host my thoughts about ethnic issues. The present gaffes or outright stereotyping of basketball player Jeremy Lin provides amply evidence for the need to critique present day media use of language and imagery. I hope this site will allow for distillation of many ideas and hypotheses for a better understanding of how media ethnicity is developed and maintained as a hegemonic imperial definer.