Japanese American group outraged by film


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 17, 2009 at 5:11 PM EDT

A Japanese-American group on Monday demanded an apology over a film starring Jeremy Piven due to a scene satirically depicting the mob beating of an Asian American man.

"The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard," which opened in sixth place in the North American box office last Friday, is a comedy about a down-and-out used-car salesman played by Piven who tries to make it big with a Fourth of July sale.

On the trailer seen on the movie's official website, Piven's character is seen shouting at an Asian American employee at the dealership: "Don't get me started on Pearl Harbor. We are Americans and they are the enemy! Never again!"

As the Asian American -- played by Korean American actor Ken Jeong -- sheepishly joins in chanting "Never again!," an older white man says, "Let's get him!" and the employees beat him up.

The Japanese American Citizens League said Piven's character also used the racial slur "Jap" in the movie and, acknowledging it was a hate crime, asked employees to say the Asian American was attacking them with a samurai sword.

Saying the film showed a "shocking lack of judgment," the group said the producers "need to apologize because they crossed a line in thinking they could use a racial slur simply for the sake of a laugh."

"Japanese Americans are particularly offended because we painfully recall how slurs were used during the 1940s to vilify and demean our community, resulting in a forced eviction from our homes," it said.

Authorities herded more than 100,000 Japanese Americans, most of them US citizens, into internment camps months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, dragging the United States into World War II.

Paramount Pictures, owned by conglomerate Viacom, said the film -- distributed in the United States by its division Paramount Vantage -- "satirizes and exaggerates the extremes of the sales and celebrity culture."

"We understand that when presented out of context, jokes and situations in the movie about a variety of topics might be offensive to some people," it said in a statement.

"To be very clear, 'The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard' is in no way meant to be mean-spirited, disparaging or hurtful to any individuals and we regret any offense taken," it said.

It is the first movie for Piven since he appeared in the hit HBO television series "Entourage."

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