San Francisco Nearly Devoid of Asians (According to ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’)

Photo credit: David James - TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (left to right) Kirk Acevedo, Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Enrique Murciano.

Photo credit: David James – TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.


By Leeland Lee

Recently, in between scenes of apes wreaking havoc throughout the streets of San Francisco, I played a game I often play whenever I feel bored at the movies: spot the Asian actor or actress.

From the start, I suspected this would be no easy task. Certainly, none of the main human characters were Asian. And, to my knowledge, none of apes were, either. But how about the extras, the nameless faces in the crowd?

I spotted exactly one. A male with long black hair and, shockingly, glasses. One Asian person in the entire movie, a movie that’s supposedly set in a city that’s currently about 33% Asian, according to the latest statistics from Wikipedia.

So what happened to all the Asian people? I began devising elaborate theories. Perhaps they lacked the key resistance gene for simian virus and were decimated by disease. Perhaps they had been run out of town by a gang of predominantly white Silicon Valley yuppies. Perhaps they had fled to Fremont.

In any case, whoever made this movie certainly spared no expense turning San Francisco into a haven of post-apocalyptic CGI porn. In one scene, apes are swinging from the cables of a rotted Golden Gate Bridge. In another, the main characters escape into an abandoned BART station. There’s even a scene showing the tunnel on Stockton Street, along with the shuttered storefronts of the Asian massage parlors that, like weeds, currently line its entrance. Now that’s attention to detail!

But there’s only one tiny little problem: They left out all the Asian people!

Sadly, in scene after scene, the only Homo sapiens who seem to inhabit San Francisco are a bunch of feckless hipsters who are either busy putting on their sad faces or partying it up in some abandoned warehouse, as they are apt to do.

And that lone Asian guy? He’s quietly standing in the background, where Asians, historically and metaphorically, have always seemed to stand. Always receded, always just outside of the frame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leeland Lee has previously written for about Apple factories in America

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