NPR logo On Air: Long Duk Dong

'In Character' On the Air

On Air: Long Duk Dong

» Hear the 'All Things Considered' radio story

"What's happenin', hot stuff?" Gedde Watanabe played Sixteen Candles' Long Duk Dong. Universal Pictures hide caption

toggle caption
Universal Pictures

Blanche DuBois. Walter Mitty. Captain Ahab. We know, it's been feeling a little like school, maybe.

But just when you thought In Character had planted itself firmly in the literary alps, NPR's Alison MacAdam comes to the rescue with a look at an '80s character who's not so much famous as infamous: Long Duk Dong, the wacky exchange student in Sixteen Candles, the debut film from high-school-movie hero John Hughes.

Ali talks to Gedde Watanabe, the actor who caught no end of grief for playing what many see as an eye-popping example of Hollywood stereotyping.

Also heard in the piece: Giant Robot co-founders Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong. Like many Asian-American kids in the '80s, they grew up being hassled by classmates who'd seen the movie — and who thought asking an Asian guy to say "Oh, sexy girlfriend!" was the height of wit.

Don't remember Long Duk Dong being that outrageous? I've got the incriminating evidence over on the story page. Enjoy ... though maybe that's not quite the right word.

Bonus info: Did you know there's an '80s cover band called Long Duk Dong? In Kentucky, no less.

NPR thanks our sponsors

About