Last week I defended the late Pat Morita against the PC condescending tribute paid him by Lawrence Downes in the New York Times. Now it turns out Downes fell into the very trap he set for himself. Yesterday the Times ran this dainty correction apropos his piece:
An Editorial Observer column last Tuesday about the death of the actor Pat Morita referred imprecisely to Rob Schneider’s background. His mother is Filipino.
I’d say Downes had been precise to a fault in making his erroneous point:
Watch Rob Schneider play Ula, a leering Hawaiian in the Adam Sandler movie “50 First Dates,” with a pidgin accent by way of Cheech and Chong, and you get the sense that Hollywood still believes that there is no ethnic caricature a white actor can’t improve upon.
But alls well that ends well, at least if Rob Schneider is involved. Today the Times ran his letter to the editor in which he not only notes he’s half-Filipino (dated December 1, his letter presumably alterted the Times to Downes’s crude error) but defends with just the right closing touch the notion of genuine equal opportunity: “I also believe that Hollywood should give roles to the most talented person irrespective of ethnicity, race or in my case ‘looks.'”