Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Sikh community not amused by new comedy.
The Sikh community’s fear of being the target of bias attacks in the US and being likened to the Osama bin Laden ‘clan’ took a new turn with the release of Miramax film DysFunKtional Family —standup comedy starring Eddie Griffin, also its chief writer — last week.
Following weeks of talks with publicists for Miramax and the producer of DysFunKtional Family, the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART), a national Sikh advocacy and civil rights group, has retained a law firm and placed the film’s producers on notice.
The film associates Sikhs with Osama bin Laden, say the organisation’s spokespersons. Trailers for the film show Griffin saying, ‘‘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, Griffin points to an elderly Sikh man and says: ‘‘Bin Laden, I knew you was around here!’’
SMART was alerted to the film in February by a Sikh from Chicago, who saw the trailer. The organisation in a February 26 letter to Miramax sought a meeting and in conversations with a Miramax publicist, they conveyed their concerns and requested a screening of the film prior to its release. Manjit Singh, chairman of SMART’s board of directors, said the organisation would be monitoring the after-effects of the film. Bias attacks on Sikhs would be checked to see if the film had contributed to them.
Earlier, SMART had advised Miramax about the consequences of the crude jokes about Sikhs. The organisation had pointed out that the first fatality of post 9/11 hate crimes was a Sikh man murdered by individuals who associated the turban and beard with bin Laden.