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Comedy Film Strikes Sour Note With Sikhs
By LISA TSERING
India-West, Mar. 14, 2003
"So you thought you had seen the last of the jokes equating turbaned Sikhs with 'Most Wanted' terrorist Osama bin Laden - think again. A new film starring standup comedian Eddie Griffin has angered Sikhs over a joke that they say is unfunny at best and offensive at worst. The Miramax film DysFunKtional Family, due for release Apr. 4, follows the comedian through some of his live performances as he riffs on family, urban pop culture and politics. In one bit, which is in trailers now running in theaters, Griffin says, 'I can't figure out why they can't find Osama bin Laden - six feet six, with a nappy beard and a towel on his head. But they can sure find my cousin, four feet 11, over in Compton.' Later in the trailer, Griffin, now standing on a street corner, gestures at an elderly Sikh man walking past [see picture above]. 'Bin Laden, I knew you was around here!' he says."
"Manjit Singh of the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force [S.M.A.R.T.] said that the organization had started receiving complaints about the film from people who had seen the trailer in theaters. 'It's one thing if you're just making fun,' he told India-West last week from Washington, D.C. 'But if you call someone Osama bin Laden when there have already been so many attacks against Sikhs, that is a different matter.' Singh says that S.M.A.R.T. has a policy of due diligence which calls for his group to see the entire film before issuing any official statement on the film. 'We research things first,' he said. 'We don't want to raise an alarm unnecessarily.' He is in touch with representatives of Miramax and Dimension Films to see a screening tape of the R-rated film before it hits theaters."
"Miramax publicist Jennifer Glaisek told India-West that the company had no comment, and a call to Griffin's agent at the William Morris Agency was not returned by press time. Eddie Griffin, 34, has appeared in the films John Q; The Mod Squad; Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo; Armageddon and others. He is credited as the chief writer of DysFunKtional Family. After viewing the film, S.M.A.R.T. representatives will decide whether to take legal action and whether that would entail demanding cuts in the film, said Singh. 'I don't understand it,' said Singh. 'He's a black comic, and blacks have faced discrimination for hundreds of years. To see a black comic discriminate like this is even worse.' "
"Readers can contact S.M.A.R.T. at (877) 917-4547 or at www.sikhmediawatch.org."