Licorice Pizza comes under fire for a scene with a fake Asian accent… despite critical acclaim

Director Paul Thomas Anderson returns with his first feature in four years with Licorice Pizza, which has come under fire for a controversial scene.

The scene in question is about a restaurant owner played by John Michael Higgins, who owns the building with his Japanese wife, with the story set in 1973.

The character speaks to his wife in a fake Asian accent, and he reappears with another Asian woman using the same accent, which didn’t sit well with fans, even those who otherwise enjoyed the movie.

Under fire: Director Paul Thomas Anderson returns with his first feature in four years starring Licorice Pizza, which is under fire for a controversial scene

Neither Higgins nor director Anderson responded to requests for comment from NBC News, although a number of fans and critics are talking on Twitter.

“Imagine this: You’re looking at Licorice Pizza. It’s brilliant. Then a buffoon character drops an Asian caricature early on. The (mostly white) audience laughs. And now you have to think about that laughter for the rest of the movie. Can you picture it? Because it sucks,” film critic Dave Chen said.

Writer-director Karen Maine said she saw the limited-edition film, which premieres Friday, last week.

Picture this: “Imagine this: You’re looking at Licorice Pizza. It’s brilliant. Then a buffoon character drops an Asian caricature early on. The (mostly white) audience laughs. And now you have to think about that laughter for the rest of the movie. Can you picture it? Because it sucks,” film critic Dave Chen said.

Limited: Writer-director Karen Maine said she saw the film, which comes out in limited release last week

Limited: Writer-director Karen Maine said she saw the film, which comes out in limited release last week

“I saw #LicoricePizza over a week ago and it took so long to process. There’s an incredibly racist, seemingly pointless (except for a cheap laugh, which got it at the screening I was at) mocking Asian accents,” Maine said.

She added in another tweet: “It was beautifully shot and incredibly well acted by everyone, especially Alana (Haim) and Cooper. I thought it was too long and I never really had enough contact with the two main characters for a worthy reward at the end.

Maine concluded, “The whole Haim and Bradley Cooper family were my favorite parts. But that pointless, racist scene ruined the whole movie for me, and more people need to talk to PT about it.”

Great: Henry Ahn added: 'Drop pizza is great, but I was reminded that there are extremely awkward scenes with a white man speaking to his Asian wife in the most obscenely offensive fake Asian accent.  Moaning was unbearable.  Cringe at the stage but also laugh at the theater full of white people'

Great: Henry Ahn added: ‘Drop pizza is great, but I was reminded that there are extremely awkward scenes with a white man speaking to his Asian wife in the most obscenely offensive fake Asian accent. Moaning was unbearable. Cringe at the stage but also laugh at the theater full of white people’

Henry Ahn added: ‘Drop pizza is great, but I was reminded that there are extremely awkward scenes with a white man speaking to his Asian wife in the most obscenely offensive fake Asian accent. Moaning was unbearable. Cringe at the stage but also at the theater full of white people laughing.’

Filmmaker So Yun Um added in her tweet: ‘Damn, can we Asians never have anything nice? Some of my favorite white male directors: PTA, Wes Anderson, Denis Villeneuve have all made great movies lately and then there’s a fake Asian accent or a sneaky Asian character trope. Let it end.’

Sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen said the criticism seems justified because the film itself does not put Higgins’ character to the test for his actions.

Nothing nice: Filmmaker So Yun Um added in her tweet: 'Damn, can we Asians never have anything nice?  Some of my favorite white male directors: PTA, Wes Anderson, Denis Villeneuve have all made great movies lately and then there's a fake Asian accent or a sneaky Asian character trope.  Let it end.

Nothing nice: Filmmaker So Yun Um added in her tweet: ‘Damn, can we Asians never have anything nice? Some of my favorite white male directors: PTA, Wes Anderson, Denis Villeneuve have all made great movies lately and then there’s a fake Asian accent or a sneaky Asian character trope. Let it end.

“It’s irresponsible to use racism against Asians as a running gag,” Yuen said, although she admitted she hasn’t seen the film yet.

She noted, however, that the plot “isn’t even about Asians or race, and what it’s doing is normalizing this violence, this casually anti-Asian racism.”

“Racist stereotypes like the accent are a cheap way to laugh because you don’t have to explain anything, even if there’s nothing funny about accents,” Yuen said.

Irresponsible:

Irresponsible: “It’s irresponsible to use racism against Asians as a running gag,” Yuen said, although she admitted she hadn’t seen the film yet

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