I miss this show. Fox totally caved when yanking it off the air, and CityTV hasn’t had it for donkey’s years (buncha cowards and/or philistines). It was, like, the best thing ever — and became even more magnificent after a night shift when you couldn’t sleep but were too tired to make any sort of coherent sense out of what you were seeing.
Please help me find copies of it again; I will be your bestest friend for ever and ever.
I went back and re-read all the negative commentary about Banzai from places like Asian Media Watch and I honestly don’t understand any of it. I got teased when I was a kid, too, I don’t think it was a function of TV or movies or anything else — I think it was a function of pinheads. Eventually you get past it, or you don’t, and one of the benefits of getting past it is that you get to take responsibility for your own sense of self-worth and stop paying attention to what other people say about you, particularly if those things are baseless. Banzai was pretty clearly parody from the moment you saw it; I guess the reason it was offensive had to do with fake accents and the fact that it was even less plausible and more absurdist than, say, Takeshi’s Castle (which seems to enjoy an inexplicable popularity and still manages to escape comment from organizations like AMW).
The media element that has offended me most as a nominal ethnic in the last decade was probably The Last Samurai, for most of the same reasons why I thought films like The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Green Mile were mildly offensive — because it suggested that minorities had some kind of redemptive power that exists solely to better white people, usually misguided white men. Spike Lee, among others, refers to this as the “magic nigger” movie and it drives me fucking bananas (ha ha — get it?). Having Tom Cruise be redeemed by his co-option of traditional Japanese culture (which, by the way, he had set out to destroy in the first part) was offensive; having it be suggested that he then became the embodiement of that culture was another thing entirely. Why The Last Samurai gets a pass in this department and Banzai, or, for that matter, Lost In Translation gets nailed for having negative stereotypes is a total fucking mystery to me.