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Hamamoto research stirs interest

November 7, 2003

By Susanne Rockwell

Darrell Hamamoto, Asian American studies professor and media critic, is drawing reporters' attention for his provocative exploration of attitudes about Asian American sexuality.

An amateur erotic film director, Hamamoto was featured in last Sunday's Sacramento Bee in a story headlined "Porn as commentary: Film on Asian issues grabs attention, stirs debate," as well as in salon.com in an Oct. 10 Web story titled "Yellow Porn." He was also interviewed Oct. 25 on Fox News' national program "From the Heartland" with John Kasich.

Hamamoto recently produced a $7,000 adult film called Skin on Skin that used no university resources or students. Cuts from the 50-minute film were refashioned into an 11-minute political piece, "Yellowcaust: A Patriot Act," that has been shown at film festivals in San Diego and Hawaii, as well as in Hamamoto's summer school course -- theoretical perspectives in Asian American studies. Students were given the option of not seeing the film.

Hamamoto told salon.com reporter Harry Mok he wanted to use an Asian American male to co-star with an Asian-American woman in his video -- a unique concept in the porn industry where many Asian-American women are employed but where there are no heterosexual Asian-American males, according to salon.com. Hamamoto says the mainstream media ignores Asian-American male sexuality. "I want Asian-American people to look at it and examine it themselves, take matters in their own hands and come up with a solution," he told Mok.

The tenets of academic freedom entitle professors to express themselves freely, points out Elizabeth Langland, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies where Hamamoto teaches. Langland also told The Bee, "We asked Dr. Hamamoto to be explicit in explaining that his film does not express the university's position and was not financed by the university."

Langland added, "He's pushing the boundaries, and not everyone will agree with his approach. However, the issue to which he has directed our attention is an important one."

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