BANZAI UPDATE: SPONSORS PULL FROM "BANZAI" AS RATINGS DROP AND FOX CENSORS THEIR MESSAGE BOARD


Los Angeles - Since the Asian American protest of FOX's TV show "Banzai", Gail Berman, President of Fox keeps insisting that, "we have heard very little (criticisms) from our viewers". But Fox's actions state otherwise, when they have been deleting any accusations of racism from concerned viewers. "We have received many complaints from viewers that their messages on Fox's message board have been deleted or 'gagged'," says Charles Chang, MANAA member and protest coordinator. "Gagged messages are messages that websites allow to be seen only on the screen of the person who typed it, but not by anyone else. It's normally used to hide messages that are in poor taste or offensive, but in this case, it's used to fulfil their own agenda."

"Banzai" is Fox's new controversial show that many Asian Americans believe has strong racist elements attached to it. The show contains negative images such as the geeky Japanese businessmen and a martial arts master whose manic expressions and annoying accents serve to entertain audiences much like "Amos 'n' Andy" did from a bygone era.

Besides deleting messages against "Banzai", Fox is deleting messages of support from racist viewers that enjoy and love this show - deleting messages condemning and threatening MANAA and other Asian Americans using racist words like "Chinks" and "Japs" to name a few.

And it's not just Asians, before Fox pulled these comments, an angry "Banzai" fan lashed out at a Latino woman's comment by saying, "Rosa shut up - you dirty Mexican!!!" "Fox must realize that this show they have, is a racist show, therefore any complaints claiming this show to be racist is not out-of-line and should be accounted. Not only it's important to document these complains but we need the public to understand that this show appeals and attracts a significant amount of disturbing people that enjoy seeing minorities and foreigners devoid of their own dignity."

Since it's premiere, "Banzai's" ratings have been disappointing. An original episode of "Banzai" continues to decline from its lead-in, reruns of "The Simpson's", and cannot match in ratings of reruns of "Malcolm in the Middle", its lead-out. In it's premiere week, there was almost a 20 percent drop off between Banzai and its repeat lead-in (4.29 HHLD compared to 3.49). Week 2 Banzai dropped from its repeat lead-in by 26 percent (4.10 HHLD compared to 3.06) and 30 percent in week 3 (4.74 HHLD compared to 3.31). Currently in it's new 7:30pm time slot Banzai is down from its weekly average, dropped from its lead in (reruns of "Futurama"), and only attracts half as much as reruns of "The Simpson's" (4.1HHLD compared to 2.4).

In addition MANAA has learned, through several concerned viewers, that a number of sponsors has stopped advertising on "Banzai". A viewer contacted SONY's senior VP of Corporate affairs and asked her to view the show that her Japanese owned company is paying ad time for. She saw it and immediately pulled Sony's commercials off of Banzai saying, "I saw the first 5 minutes of the show on tape and I had to turn it off. It's disgraceful. ... I hope FOX will cancel this. Even without the race thing, I think this show is not something we want to be associated with. It's horrible. We're out of there." SBC director of media services Glen Higgins pulled their ads saying, "We have reviewed Banzai, and feel it is not the appropriate environment nor does it meet SBC's strict programming guidelines. Given this, it will not be included in SBC's television media plans."

Still, Fox supports Banzai - claiming it's "not offensive", despite the number of Asian Americans who disagree. Even back in London, where Banzai was originated a 16-year-old Japanese girl contacted MANAA and shared her disdain, " I am very worried that 'Banzai' will leave a false impression of Japan on British people, particularly the younger generation. As a matter of fact, there have been more than a few cases in which I have been offended by other students who watch 'Banzai'. I have been asked silly questions about Japan and I am sick of children who imitate karate stunts and start hissing like apes the moment they see me."

"The lackluster ratings and pulled advertisers clearly shows the maturity of this country but the decision to still keep this show on shows the stubborn immaturity of a network that refuses to admit their wrong." said Chang. "They still refuse to do the right thing. Maybe Fox feels that the Asian American population (roughly 4% of the total American Population according to the latest census) is not significant enough for them to consider not offending. We ask all far minded people in American and ask yourself, "What if this was your race, your heritage, your culture, that's being lampooned? Please help us by contacting Fox and your local Fox affiliate and ask them to stop airing this show."

Fox plans to keep it on, this week it will air on Sunday at 7:30 (6:30 central).