Creator of Long Duk Dong Dies
This blog doesn’t really talk about pop culture, for the most part. But it must be mentioned that director John Hughes recently died of a heart attack. For much of America, Hughes was best known for his movies about the White Teenage Angst experience during the Reagan Era, such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
But for not a few Asian Americans, he was also known for something more notorious….
The character of “Long Duk Dong” from Hughes’ movie Sixteen Candles.
Played by Gedde Watanabe in what has become the defining role of his career, Long Duk Dong personified every Asian male racial stereotype that America (still) holds dear.
NPR even did a retrospective article on Long Duk Dong, detailing some of his (in)famous moments from the film as well as the reaction from Asian Americans.
As for his career in general, Hughes’ best work captures with some sensitivity the traumas of American adolescence and quintessential rites of passage like negotiating/surviving the high school caste system.
Perhaps, Hughes’ focus on the high school experience was appropriate, as this institution in a funny way captures the values of US society at large–including Hollywood itself.
Indeed, as one novel aptly suggests, Hollywood Is like High School with Money.
Anyway, here is the signature song from The Breakfast Club, “Don’t You Forget about Me.”