By now, you’ve likely heard of the controversy surrounding the Monster Hunter film. Released in theaters across China and Germany last week, the film was quickly pulled after backlash due to a racially insensitive “joke” at the beginning of the film. While not maliciously put into the film to cause harm, viewers walked away feeling belittled over some seriously stupid wordplay.
Production company Legendary Entertainment already apologized for the occurrence and now the film’s director, Paul W.S. Anderson, has offered his own apology. In a statement given to Deadline, Anderson said, “I am absolutely devastated that a line from our movie, Monster Hunter, has offended some audience members in China. I apologize for any anxiety or upset that this line and its interpretation caused. Monster Hunter was made as fun entertainment and I am mortified that anything within it has caused unintentional offense. ” The line will also be removed from all upcoming releases, including the North American one.
Across social media, many were pointing to how the actor reciting the line was Asian as if that is somehow a defense for racism. Thankfully, the actor doesn’t agree with that logic and offered his own apology. Jin Au-Yeung, who goes by the name of MC Jin, is the one that uttered the line in question and posted a video on his personal Instagram that said, “I felt a need to address this situation because what is at stake is not my career but something even more dear to my heart – my roots. I’ve spent the last 20 years using my platform to embrace and be a positive voice for my community. I am and will always be proud of my heritage.”
Bringing things full circle, actress Milla Jovovich (main star of Monster Hunter and Paul W.S. Anderson’s wife) comforted Jin and shifted the blame to herself. “We should have researched the historical origin of it and that’s 100% on us, but you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong. None of us had ever heard the ‘dirty knees’ reference. You included. It was an unfortunate mistake and the Chinese translation didn’t help.”
Lest you think I’m simply angry at the world for something, I do believe these words. Paul W.S. Anderson’s movies might have cringe-worthy dialogue and be piles of garbage, but the man doesn’t seem to have hatred in his bones. You can even count me in as someone that hadn’t ever heard of the offensive poem before this debacle happened. I really don’t think everyone got together in the writer’s room and said, “Let’s be racist today!”
Still, the line does speak to a long-running trend in Hollywood where Asian people aren’t respected. It may not be the most overtly offensive thing ever written, but these types of passive jokes build up over time. It also adds nothing to the plot or tone of the film, which is meant to be an escapist piece of entertainment. That it is now getting removed is only a good thing and should help Monster Hunter be more like the film it was meant to be.