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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist

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RippedMan
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joined:8/14/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 8/14/05
White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#1
Posted: 6/8/20 at 12:43pm

Ann responds: 

Dear Chris Giordano and Artists for Anti-Racist Accountability (AFAR)

I resent having to address this right now since the conversation should really be about how black lives matter, but you have chosen your platform to attack me personally, attack a show I was involved with from the very beginning, and to harass a company I respect and love dearly. So here goes.

You don’t have to like Avenue Q. You can have whatever feelings you want about Avenue Q. What you do NOT get to do is judge my personal character if you don’t know me and we have not worked together. Chris, you are a white man who has no problem calling me, a woman of color, racist. If you’re so interested in supporting POC actors why are you shaming me? Whatever problems you or anyone has with Avenue Q, you’re all comfortable blaming me for them? Gee, thanks.

HOW F*CKING DARE ANY OF YOU imply I tolerate and encourage systemic racism because I agreed with the song title “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”. What I was speaking to, and what I believe the song is about, is that we all have unconscious bias due to our various upbringings. I don’t think that is a particularly controversial opinion. The song escalates as it goes along, showing how ridiculous certain stereotypes really are. As for the character of Christmas Eve, of course I see how she is a racial stereotype because of her accent. I believe that is the POINT. I have always maintained that her accent does not indicate that she is ignorant or that it even makes her the butt of the joke. People have accents in real life, it does not make them “less than”. Christmas Eve is the most educated character in Avenue Q.
But why am I even defending her? She doesn’t need it. The content of her character is on the page.

MOST insulting to me personally is that anyone would think I would accept a job I find offensive. Also that my colleagues, many of whom you tagged in your original post, would support work THEY found offensive. I am proud of Avenue Q and of our process in developing the show. I DID speak up about things in the script and score that bothered me, and I am happy to say the creative team listened and treated me with respect, which is more than I can say about you.

I am proud of what we accomplished together. Shows and humor are products of their time and maybe back in 2003 people were more open to irony and satire. I realize some of the content that seemed fine then may not play so now. But I have been told the creatives are open to changes and there are plans to adapt it. I trust them to do what’s right because I know them.

This is, of course, only my personal opinion. You don’t have to like it or like me or like how I played the role. I can only say that at the time it was joyous and liberating to be part of a new kind of storytelling. I will always be grateful for that experience.

However, Chris, I don’t know that it is a good look for you to randomly attack a show that has been closed for a year, to single out a veteran actor of color for particular disdain and bullying, and to be enthusiastic about calling out your “friends” for their “complicity”. To me that does not make you an ally. It makes you a virtue-signaling creep.

Sincerely,

“Broadway’s original Christmas Eve, an actress of Asian-American descent”.

Ann Harada

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Sutton Ross
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joined:7/20/13
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#2
Posted: 6/8/20 at 12:57pm

Amazing and strong message. Bravo! 

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Plannietink08
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joined:6/2/11
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#3
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:02pm

GET. HIM. TOLD. ANN. 

I thought it was common knowledge that AVENUE Q is a lot smarter than the premise of the show initially suggests, how is that being lost of these people calling it racist?

"Charlotte, we're Jewish"
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RippedMan
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#4
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:03pm

Agreed! I don't think some people get "satire" at all. Like, sure the show is "racist" in that sense, but it's exploiting racism to make the point. It's making fun of itself. And everyone is in on the joke. Including the audience. 

Broadway61004
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joined:4/14/11
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#5
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:14pm

They're the exact same folks who still want to call out "South Park" without understanding the point, or Robert Downey Jr. for wearing blackface in "Tropic Thunder", not to mention, protesting "The Scottsboro Boys" for using blackface.  They just see "blackface" or "stereotype" or whatever else and just get up on their soap box about how wrong it is without ever actually looking at it to see what the point of the satire is.

Zion24
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joined:3/27/19
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#6
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:39pm

perfectly said, Ann Harada. 

it was not lost on the audience that Christmas Eve was the most educated and intelligent character in the play. i can already hear the woke kids coming for Avenue Q and Book of Mormon, collectively and excitedly missing the point.

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Anakela
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joined:7/10/05
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#7
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:56pm

Who is Chris Giordano, and where can I read whatever this is in response to? Tried searching the AFAR Facebook page, but didn't find it.

sparksatmidnight
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joined:1/26/19
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#8
Posted: 6/8/20 at 1:57pm

Every show is a little bit racist

SouthernCakes
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joined:7/29/19
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#9
Posted: 6/8/20 at 2:27pm
I couldn’t find it either
VintageSnarker
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joined:1/30/15
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#10
Posted: 6/8/20 at 4:23pm

RippedMan said: "Ann responds: Shows and humor are products of their time and maybe back in 2003 people were more open to irony and satire. I realize some of the content that seemed fine then may not play so now. But I have been told the creatives are open to changes and there are plans to adapt it. I trust them to do what’s right because I know them."

I am wary of anything that hints that people are too PC now and don't get satire. I think it's worthwhile to critique characters like Christmas Eve, Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, the white slavery subplot and Asian characters in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the Message From A Nightingale number in The Drowsy Chaperone. I can understand what you're doing and still think there are better ways to express the point. A younger generation being able to recognize this is not a bad thing.

That said, she's entirely justified in the rest of her points.

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HenryTDobson
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#11
Posted: 6/8/20 at 5:15pm

Was the original post taken down? I can't find it.

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dramamama611
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#12
Posted: 6/8/20 at 5:24pm
That IS the original post. The complaint is nowhere to be found.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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HenryTDobson
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#13
Posted: 6/8/20 at 7:17pm

dramamama611 said: "That IS the original post. The complaint is nowhere to be found."

Always the joy. The complaint is the original post. Ann's post is in response to that.

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trentsketch
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#14
Posted: 6/8/20 at 7:30pm

Just to be clear, the original post was in a Facebook group (linked in the first post here). That person was criticized by Ann Harada (copied as the first post in this thread) and an admin from the group before deleting his post entirely. He basically said that Ann Harada was complicit in creating a racist caricature after breaking down why he thought Christmas Eve was racist and nothing else. There's some interesting discussions in the comments in response to the original post, the positive and negative response to the original post, and how to actually go about critiquing this kind of issue on a public platform like Facebook. 

bwaylvsong
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joined:7/28/05
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#15
Posted: 6/8/20 at 7:40pm
Here is Ms. Harada’s Facebook post:
https://m.facebook.com/story/graphql_permalink/?graphql_id=UzpfSTc5NTkyMDA1NzoxMDE2MzU4OTUxNjA1NTA1OA%3D%3D

It appears that Mr. Giordano has deleted his Facebook profile and hence the post to which Harada is responding (I do not know him but have seen his comments on friends’ posts).
mpkie
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joined:6/21/15
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#16
Posted: 6/8/20 at 9:55pm

As a fellow Asian American female, hear hear Ann Harada! Hear, hear!

 

(wish there was a screenshot of the post though!)

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broadwayguy2
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#17
Posted: 6/8/20 at 11:33pm

For the record, MUCH of that (now private) group is White virtue signaling and calling every show they can manage "racist". 

bk
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joined:7/20/03
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#18
Posted: 6/9/20 at 2:10am

The group is a joke.  Ann Harada's response is perfect.  And of course the little cowardly mofo took his page down, just as whoever took down his post took down his post.  What he should have done was apologize to Ms. Harada.  Also, no one seems to be aware of Jeff Whitty's great response, too - it's in the thread on her page.

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dramamama611
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#19
Posted: 6/9/20 at 5:33am

HenryTDobson said: "dramamama611 said: "That IS the original post. The complaint is nowhere to be found."

Always the joy. The complaint is the original post. Ann's post is in response to that.
"

Jeez...I meant here....and if you read the thread, you'd have seen the starting  point couldnt be found. I just summerized  for you.

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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AADA81
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White Guy Calls "Avenue Q" Racist#20
Posted: 6/9/20 at 10:44am

'Avenue Q' is one of the funniest shows ever and Ann Harada was one of the main reasons for its success.  How could anyone NOT get the satire in that show.  The stereotypes were obvious and over-the-top because they were pointing out the stupidity of racism.  They weren't acclaiming it.  Also, the writers and actors were totally aware of what they were up to and 'in' on the joke.  Looking for racism where it doesn't exist diminishes the impact of addressing it where it thrives.

JennH
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joined:11/14/13
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White Guy Calls #21
Posted: 6/9/20 at 10:49am

RippedMan said: "Agreed! I don't think some people get "satire" at all. Like, sure the show is "racist" in that sense, but it's exploiting racism to make the point. It's making fun of itself. And everyone is in on the joke. Including the audience."

This is EXACTLY the same point that Book of Mormon makes too...it's satire, people. HOWEVER...if you want to state that you're tired of these issues getting satirized, then that's something else entirely. And THAT I can get behind. 

And BTW, the admin of that page stated just yesterday that the page will be taken down, mostly because he doesn't have the resources he needs to keep up with it. He didn't expect it to take off as it did. 

Updated On: 6/9/20 at 10:49 AM
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TotallyEffed
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White Guy Calls #22
Posted: 6/9/20 at 11:05am
Oh, now he doesn’t have the resources.