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Paul Thomas Anderson Responded To The Backlash Against A “Licorice

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“I’m lost when it comes to that.”

Licorice Pizza was one of the most acclaimed movies of 2021, and it’s up for a bunch of Oscars too — including Best Picture.

Paul Thomas Anderson / MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film has also drawn criticism for several scenes in which a white restaurant owner, played by John Michael Higgins, uses a fake Asian accent while talking to his Japanese wife.

Rich Polk / Getty Images for Universal Studios Hollywood

When the film was released last year, the Media Action Network For Asian Americans called for an awards boycott due to the offensive content.

MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

“To shower it with nominations and awards would normalize more egregious mocking of Asians in this country,” the statement read, “sending the message that it’s OK to make fun of them, even during a time when Asian Americans are afraid to go out on the streets because of the unprecedented levels of violence from fellow Americans blaming them for COVID-19.”

In a recent interview with IndieWire, PTA addressed the criticism surrounding the scenes.

Tim Mosenfelder / FilmMagic

“It’s kind of like, ‘Huh?’,” he replied when asked about the backlash. “I don’t know if it’s a ‘Huh’ with a dot dot dot. It’s funny because it’s hard for me to relate to.”

Melinda Sue Gordon / MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

“I don’t know. I’m lost when it comes to that. To me, I’m not sure what they— you know, what is the problem? The problem is that he was an idiot saying stupid shit?””

MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

When the interviewer pointed out that the scenes could give the audience “permission to laugh at the stereotype, rather than his stupidity,” PTA replied, “Right. Well, I don’t know, maybe that’s a possibility.”

MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

“I’m certainly capable of missing the mark,” he continued, “but on the other hand, I guess I’m not sure how to separate what my intentions were from how they landed.”

Paul Thomas Anderson / MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

Read the entire interview here.

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