by JAMES S. KIM
The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) is calling for TMZ to apologize for comments made during the telecast on Friday that MANAA claims perpetuates stereotypes against Asian people.
During a segment featuring Step Up 3D’s Joe Slaughter, a reporter tells the actor about how South Korea is creating larger parking stalls to make it easier for Korean women to park. (These do exist, by the way.)
Slaughter responds, “I think America should do that for Asian people in general. Stereotypes aren’t stereotypes because they’re unfalse [sic]. They’re stereotypes because we know for a face that things like that happen.”
When the segment cuts back to the TMZ set, a staffer begins describing her Asian roommate, who apparently talks about her bad driving all the time.
“But you know what?” the staffer said. “My roommate is Asian. She is full-blown Chinese. And she openly talks about how she is a bad driver. And she does blame it on her genetics because of her eyes. It’s not something that’s a bad thing if you—you know, maybe someone can be born with a big nose and you can’t turn all the way.”
The pink parking stalls were part of the larger “Women Friendly Seoul Project,” which the city began 2007. Image via Global Post
MANAA founding president Guy Aoki said that by allowing this segment to air, TMZ was being hypocritical. He referenced the show’s release of the infamous video of now soon-to-be former owner of the Clippers, Donald Sterling, that eventually led to a ban from the NBA.
“First of all, she describes being full-blooded Chinese … as if it’s a disease,” Aoki said in a statement released Friday. “Secondly, even if her account of her roommate’s beliefs are accurate, we doubt TMZ would’ve aired comments by a staffer attributing perceived shortcomings of any ethnic group to genetics.”
Aoki said that if the target of this stereotype had been another ethnic group, such as African Americans, it likely would have been edited out and not allowed to air.
Along with a written and on-air apology, MANAA is calling for TMZ staff to undergo sensitivity training regarding Asian Americans to prevent future ignorant comments. MANAA has also asked for Slaughter to apologize.
“We’re also not too pleased about Joe Slaughter’s comments, which implied that all Asian people—in any country—were bad drivers,” said MANAA board member, Miriam Nakamura-Quan. “Especially since Step Up 3D, which featured Asian American dancers, was directed by Chinese American Jon M. Chu, and Slaughter played the leader of the House of Samurai dance crew.”
You can watch the segment below.