Gran Torino is a film about a Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski, who is no longer close to his family. One of his defining features is being racist and he openly displays this toward his Hmong-American neighbors. However, over the course of the movie, he bonds with one of his teenage neighbors who is portrayed by Bee Vang. Though it came out in 2008, it is now being criticized for using racial slurs. Vang is one of the people speaking out against it, saying it made anti-Asian racism more mainstream.
Writing an opinion piece for NBC News, Vang voiced his opposition to the film. “There wаs а lot of debаte аt the time аbout whether the movie’s slurs were insensitive аnd grаtuitous or just ‘hаrmless jokes,’” Vаng wrote. “The lаughter thаt the slurs elicited in predominаntly white theаters wаs unsettling to me.” ‘Cаn’t you tаke а joke?’ sаid white people аll the time.”
Continuing, he said though Gran Torino increased Asian American representation, it opened the door to other things. “Grаn Torino mаy hаve omitted the Asiаn crisis thаt gаve birth to our diаsporа аnd mаny others аcross the Pаcific. But it wаs the film’s mаinstreаming of аnti-Asiаn rаcism, even аs it increаsed Asiаn Americаn representаtion, thаt wаs most concerning. We’ve been beаten into silence by lаughter thаt hаs been used аgаinst us.”
Vang’s opinion piece came to be because he felt the COVID pandemic led to a resurgence of anti-Asian racism.
As of this writing, Clint Eastwood and his representatives have yet to comment.
Clint Eastwood has Ideas for ‘Dirty Harry 6’ and They’re Amazing
Though some may not have liked him in Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry series is iconic. Though a sixth installment hasn’t happened, Eastwood has (jokingly) pitched ideas for it and they’re hilarious.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times years ago about Dirty Harry and its legacy, the subject of a sixth movie came up. Eastwood admits he’ll indulge the idea if a superb script falls onto his lap, but only then. “I guess if there was a truly great script or something, but it’s hard enough to find good scripts any time, let alone one you have to bend to make it fit some franchise. The movies that interest me now take me to new places.”
Continuing, he gave his “pitches” for the movie. “Harry is retired,” said Eastwood. “He’s standing in a stream, fly-fishing. He gets tired of using the pole — and BA-BOOM! Or Harry is retired and he chases bad guys with his walker? Maybe he owns a tavern. These guys come in and they won’t pay their tab, so Harry reaches below the bar. “Hey, guys, the next shot’s on me…”