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The legacy of Long Duk Dong

March 24, 2008 |  4:40 pm

The popular 1980s coming-of-age movie "Sixteen Candles" was filled with a long list of high school stereotypes, from skinny nerds to clueless jocks. Perhaps the most memorable, or infamous, was that of foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong. Played by actor Gedde Watanabe, Duk Dong first appears on screen hanging upside down and proclaiming in thickly accented English to a stunned Molly Ringwald: "What's happening, hot stuff?"

With those words, Duk Dong became a favorite of young American audiences and a source of embarrassment and anger among many Asian Americans. Today's edition of NPR's "All Things Considered" features a story on Duk Dong and asks if his is the last of the Hollywood stereotypes. (Probably not, if you have seen some recent portrayals of Arab and Middle Eastern villains.)

Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, co-founders of Los Angeles-based Giant Robot magazine, said they and other Asian American males grew up dealing with jokes and put-downs unleashed by Duk Dong, or "Donger."

"Every single Asian dude who went to high school or junior high during the era of John Hughes movies was called 'Donger,' " says Eric Nakamura. "If you're being called Long Duk Dong," Wong explains, "you're comic relief amongst a sea of people unlike you."

--Jesus Sanchez

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