comments on

Barry Washington

of Phoenixville, PA on December 06, 2017

We must also conclude that our shock is disingenuous, to put it mildly. Time and time again we see this shock dissipate into several forms of " It wasn't so bad after all." We minimize or deny the offense and blame the victim. Our lip service to morality is just another form of normative social behavior, like a seasonal greeting. Our naked hypocrisy is behind our outrage. Instead, we should follow the New Testament example, which would lead us reflect, put our rocks down, and walk away— beginning with the older men.

Richard da Silva

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 08, 2017

Very interesting. One of the most memorable TV viewing moments I ever had is Brian Lamb's interview with the late Irving Kristol, the "neo-conservative" (in domestic affairs), most noted generally for defining a neo-conservative as "a liberal mugged by reality." I don't recall precisely Mr. Lamb's question to the grandfatherly Kristol, but the latter's answer is seared forever on my mind, namely, "Original Sin," followed by a slight pause, and then, ever so calmly and sagely, he added, "We all live with it." Catholic mass always includes the exhortation to "Let us acknowledge our sins." But, boy, how we don't want to.

I never saw Chinatown, so I'm a bit at a loss about the specificity Mr. Rottenberg is referring to. But he is sure right in suggesting that the historical record should in some sense reduce our shock over mankind's continuing misbehavior. Which is not to say we should condone what the Jewish tradition refers to as man's "flawedness," but seek God's help and forgiveness in moderating and overcoming what is unavoidably a perennial and daily problem. On a brighter note, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Kwanza, everybody!

Ann C. Davidson

of Philadelphia, PA on December 09, 2017

Whoever chose the photograph that accompanies this essay is a genius. The smirk on John Huston's face exactly mirrors the smirk often displayed by the current occupant of the White House. And thank you, Mr. Rottenberg, for not shrinking from the history of Chinatown's director.

comments on

Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 10, 2017

I so enjoy your writing and this music review is really well done. Thank you.

comments on

Brenda Dixon-Gottschild

of Philadelphia, PA on December 07, 2017

Thanks for these thoughts, Camille. It's always revealing to read how a work is perceived from different perspectives.

comments on

Michael Cheung

of Media, PA on December 05, 2017

So my ex-friend on Facebook shared this article on his wall and I made some not-so-positive comments on it. The next thing I know, I was unfriended and blocked by him. So this is the only channel for me to respond to comments on mine.

First off, I didn't mean to offend anyone. Everyone has the right to express their opinion. As an Asian (Chinese) who grew up in Hong Kong, I don't have any problem with the play naming an Asian genie "Mai Tai." She is Asian— they'd better not name her Jacqueline Smith! I had been called "Fu Manchu" by different people in Pennsylvania. I usually don't get mad at them because I understand their education levels and experience with the Chinese culture. However, I considered People's Light one of my local theaters, where I went and watched a couple of productions in the last two years. The reason that made me comment on Facebook, which I kind of regretted, is that I don't agree with the article tying the production to politics, like everything nowadays.  It's a play for the holiday; loosen up!

M.J. Sauderton

of Frazier, PA on December 05, 2017

I found this production disappointing for similar reasons. I think some people dismiss cultural stereotypes onstage when something is supposed to be a comedy. "It's just entertainment! What's the big deal?" Well, minstrel shows used to be funny, too. Audiences have evolved since then. I know there are a lot of Asian families in Malvern. I wonder what they would think if they saw this show? How many non-Asian children and families will see this and think it's OK to stereotype entire cultures for a few forced laughs at cheap jokes?

Unfortunately, it's not the first time I've heard about racially and culturally crass stuff happening at this theater, both onstage and behind the scenes. I won't be back. The show wasn't even good. A couple of the older actors were just going through the motions, and the action was so slow. I thought the comedy was corny, not clever. Not like a panto or musical comedy at all.

Samantha Funk

of South Bend , IN on December 06, 2017

You don’t know me. You don’t know my family. You don’t know where we come from. You don’t know my background. You don’t know my experience. You accuse “stereotype” yet are so quick to assume who and what i am.

Author's Response

You are right: I don't know you. And I apologize for jumping to the conclusion that you are Asian American. As I saw it that night, I saw a non-white person on stage being named a Polynesian cocktail  in a fake Arabian location for laughs. In no way did I try to speak of your experience. I am just trying to describe mine.

comments on

Melissa Dunphy

of Philadelphia, PA on December 01, 2017

I read this review days ago, and it has haunted me since. I grew up a Chinese girl in Australia, a country that in the 1980s and 1990s was still stuck pretty firmly in the Yellow Peril myth when it came to Asians (the perhaps equally damaging Model Minority myth had not quite taken hold, as there wasn't yet a sufficiently large Muslim refugee population to pit Asians against). Asians like me had to endure frequent open discussions on the political public stage and in private conversation about how Asians are coming to Australia, changing the (white) culture, and taking jobs that by implication should have gone to (white) Australians.

Like many Asian Australian kids, I was mocked for my last name Shong (usually with ching-chong rhymes), teased with caricatures of slanty eyes (even though my eyes look far more like those of my Greek biological father), and more. I learned to laugh it off and ignore it outwardly, but by the time I was a teenager, I had developed some damaging ideas about my own culture and Asianness that it has taken years as an adult to acknowledge and unravel. I doubt the kind of experiences I had growing up in Australia would be unknown to Asians in this country.

Soooo. This review of this show ... it ... bothers me. Both the review and, from what I understand of it, the show itself. I went to school with a girl called Stephanie Fu, from seventh grade through to senior year. It's a pretty common Chinese last name. I can't stop thinking about a hypothetical little girl called Stephanie Fu in the audience of this show, and what she might be feeling and thinking while watching her name crudely mocked (if you think kids aren't picking up on "eff you," I think you might be a little naive) on stage by white people dressed as classic Yellow Peril archetypes. So, yeah. Haunted.

Editor's Response

You will be pleased to learn we have an essay on just that topic in the works right now.

Chris Braak

of East Norriton, PA on December 01, 2017

It seems a little surprising that even given we're talking about one of these "traditional, old-fashioned, mostly a bunch of dumb jokes for kids" shows that we're going to let obviously racist caricatures (a villain straight out of a Yellow Peril serial from the 1930s, an Asian princess named after a Tiki Bar cocktail) and obviously transphobic ideas (a man in drag tromping around in combat boots) go by without any sort of condemnation. I understand, of course, that the idea behind a "holiday panto" like this is to juxtapose crudity with the solemnity of the season. But now that it's the 21st Century and we know for sure that there's no such thing as ironic bigotry — that it's just the back door into the house of ordinary old bigotry — surely we ought to be calling out writers like Reading and Pryor for wallowing in this kind of bullshit, rather than excusing it as part of the form.

Given the fact that this is meant to be a goofy, irreverent show, and there's no obligation at all to adhere to either the original text (itself a racist, orientalist inclusion into 1001 Nights) or to whatever terrible things that the British thought were funny 200 years ago, doesn't that mean that the authors had a wealth of choices for jokes they could have made that didn't trade on dehumanizing crap

I'm extremely disappointed that People's Light thought this kind of stuff was OK, and similarly disappointed that there's anyone inclined to let them get away with it.

Quynh Mai Nguyen

of Philadelphia, PA on December 05, 2017

"Fu responds to our villain’s welcome by saying, “Not ‘boo,’ but ‘Fu’ — spelled eff you,” one of many clever moments that likely sail over kids’ heads," writes Mark Cofta. Hardly clever. In fact, uncultured and downright degrading.

When I was a child, adults would ask for my name and I would respond, "Mai." They would look at me, pause and say, "Yes, what is your name?" Confused, I would repeat myself and say, "Mai." Eventually, I'd realize they didn't understand that my name is actually "Mai." When I went to college, adults still didn't understand that my name is "Mai." Frustrated and embarrassed, I began going by my other name, Quynh, because I thought it was more American and it would help me acclimate. After years of unraveling my shame and embarrassment at being Vietnamese American and having more pride in my culture and where my family comes from, I now introduce myself as Quynh-Mai.

I understand how a play on words can be funny. But why does it have to be at someone else's expense? I hope that my experience gives others insights on why this is not acceptable.

comments on

Rich Rubin

of Guerneville, CA on November 23, 2017

I'm not sure why the rant against a very esteemed improv group (it's not like it's a review, the event hasn't happened yet). Is this some would-be satire that missed its mark? Did you audition for them and get rejected? Not to mention: "Clamor of Harpies, an all-ladies improv group, is onstage at 9:25 a.m. on Friday, promising `big ideas and unapologetic voices,' two things we’ve recently had quite enough of from women." Did a woman really write this? While your editor is on Twitter doing a great job of calling out misogynists, you're actually posting this?

Editor's Response

This is from our What’s New What’s Next section, which contains all previews. Clearly, it’s a joke, and we are all fans of improv, especially the improv in which our social media manager performs.

Beth Jana Eisenberg

of Philadelphia, PA on November 23, 2017

Is this real or satire? It’s not a review, right? It’s just an opinion based on a description they have read online? An opinion based on words that attempt to describe a thing? I’ve never met Alaina Mabaso, but based on her name alone, she sounds really great. Based on her actual writing, she seems like a snore. But her name is delightful!

Author's Response

I think we’re living in a world that’s gotten so extreme that we can’t trust ourselves to determine satire from reality. In this case, PHIT Comedy is an excellent group, and I personally hope women in comedy (or anywhere) with big ideas and unapologetic voices get as much airtime as possible.

As for my name — thank you! I like it, too. Whether or not I’m a snore is something only readers like you can judge.

comments on

Joseph Glantz

of Levittown, PA on November 21, 2017

Nice article. I think there are actually a number of conservatives who understand the limits of incarceration.