Congratulations to Master of None co-creators Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari on winning the 2016 Emmy award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the show’s “Parents” episode!
— Master of None (@MasterofNone) September 19, 2016
On stage at the awards show after sending out his thank yous, Alan Yang called attention to a lack of well-written Asian American characters on TV and film in the US and drew a comparison to Italian American characters to help make his point.
There’s 17 million Asian-Americans in this country, and there’s 17 million Italian-Americans. They have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We got Long Duk Dong. So we got a long way to go, but I know we can get there. I believe in us. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work. Asian parents out there, if you could just do me a favor and just a couple of you get your kids cameras instead of violins, we would be all good.
Watch a video clip of Yang’s speech referring to Sixteen Candles‘ Long Duk Dong (played by Gedde Watanabe), and the need for more and better Asian American characters.
Aziz Ansari was unfortunately (and awkwardly) played off the stage by the orchestra before he could give an acceptance speech. Thankfully he appeared later to present an award and had the chance to actually thank his parents, which was especially appropriate given the Emmy-winning episode from Master of None was the “Parents” episode featuring his parents Shoukath and Fatima Ansari playing his character’s parents.
Ansari also took a sarcastic jab at the Oscars, which has been criticized for its lack of diversity:
It’s an election year, and I want everyone to know that after careful consideration I’ve decided I’m going with Trump, which is why I’m recommending that we get rid of all Muslim and Hispanic nominees from the ceremony immediately. Wow, this would be so much easier if we were at the Oscars. Mom and dad, I know I just thanked you, but you need to be escorted out. I’m so sorry.
Ansari’s criticism of Trump goes beyond on-stage jokes. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about his fears for his family as the son of Muslim immigrants and Trump’s contributions to a climate of fear and prejudice in the nation.
“DON’T go anywhere near a mosque,” I told my mother. “Do all your prayer at home, O.K.?” “We’re not going,” she replied. I am the son of Muslim immigrants. As I sent that text, in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Orlando, Fla., I realized how terrible it was to tell an American citizen to be careful about how she worshiped. (NYT)
— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) June 24, 2016
Ansari has also discussed how he “wanted the parents to feel real” in Master of None, and how the few South Asian parents on TV or film were “not three-dimensional, they’re excuses for hacky ethnic jokes.” Well, you can’t get more real than using your real parents to play your character’s parents. By bringing his family to the screen, Ansari gave some of us the chance to see families like ours on TV. That’s not to say the role of dad on the show was a lock for Dr. Shoukath Ansari. In his interview with Mallika Rao for Vulture, the elder Ansari reveals that he wasn’t automatically cast and actually beat 18 other people to play himself.
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