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'How I Met Your Mother' Kung Fu Parody Upsets Asian-Americans

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  • Center Left
    Denton, TX
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    The CBS TV show 'How I Met Your Mother' is a sitcom. It's meant to make people laugh and provide an escape for half an hour a week (minus ads of course) from the daily grind. Typically, the show is pretty well liked and rated. And, from what I can tell at least, they don't try to offend or off put any one demographic in particular. Sure, there are sex jokes galore and it does have somewhat of a target audience. But, as far as sitcoms go, it's standard fare.

    Social media is "up in arms" though over the show's last episode. This story alone got me to watch the episode just now. Some Asian-Americans are upset with the way the characters of the show portrayed their respective Kung Fu master getups: in 'yellowface'.

    Many are also upset with the way the show portrayed Asian kung-fu culture in general. Granted, I will agree that it could be perceived as shallow, stereotypical, cheap comedy. But, I would not call that necessarily racist or even offensive, just done in bad taste and not funny. There is a HUGE difference, especially when it comes to comedy. If it's funny, almost anything goes, for its just for laughs after all. But, if its not really funny, then everyone sees it in a different light and many can get offended.

    So, I ask: Is this really offensive?

    I get that we live in an ever-increasing PC, interconnected, knee-jerk society now.. Tell me your personal opinions, do you find this offensive or racist? If your first instinct (especially if you are an Asian/Asian-American) is that it is offensive, I would at least recommend that you watch the whole episode first and see if your opinion changes or not. I would be really interested to know if in it's full context and humor if it still offends.

    This is the comment the show released after the social media backlash:

    With Monday's episode, we set out to make a silly and unabashedly immature homage to Kung Fu movies, a genre we've always loved. But along the way we offended people. We're deeply sorry, and we're grateful to everyone who spoke up to make us aware of it. We try to make a show that's universal, that anyone can watch and enjoy. We fell short of that this week and feel terrible about it. To everyone we offended, we hope we can regain your friendship, and end this series on a note of goodwill."
  • Liberal
    Durham, NH
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    I've never seen the show and likely never shall because I find these types of programs dull and juvenile. Having said that, what would one expect from this type of entertainment?

    I try to catch the rerun of Colbert the next night at 7pm and the show that comes before it (Tosh-o or something) is the crudest, most childish piece of garbage I've ever seen. After catching the last few seconds of it every night I finally got smart and now I wait till 7:01 before putting Colbert on. We all have the power to NOT WATCH!
  • Other Party
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    Like pgr I've never watched this show and don't plan to.

    What if instead of portraying Asians "in yellowface" they did a scene or a show about African Americans "in blackface"?

    It would be THE END OF THE WORLD. The studio would be burned to the ground.

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be going into immediate "victim mode" because they would see this as an opportunity to make money and/or get publicity. And they'd probably be successful. They have made lucrative careers of this stuff over the past several decades. But an Asian "yellowface" controversy? Doubtful that they will bother with that.

    While we all have the power to ..."NOT WATCH"..., there are far too many people who are looking for a reason to be offended. The people who made the show apologized and hopefully life will go on. Your point about watching the whole show is a good one, because we know that lots of times scenes or dialogue are edited so they can be taken out of context.

    Remember how NBC cut/edited the George Zimmerman 911 call to make him out as a racist?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I have never watched the show and don't plan to watch it. However, in the broader context of "poor choice of words" that are often used to describe offensive remarks inadvertently made by TV pundits and politicians, I would say, "apology accepted, let's move on." Of course, the show's prepared script was certainly not inadvertent, but was it a deliberate attempt to vilify or stereotype Asian Americans or was it just another example of cultural insensitivity that we as Americans seem to exhibit with regularity?

    I think the latter. Lesson learned, apology accepted. No need to dwell on it.

    With regards to stereotyping though, there are may sitcoms that exploit Two and a Half Men...where women are stereotyped more for their bodies than their brains. It's funny, however, in thinking about other examples, another sitcom came to mind, the one with the Fox News blond women pundits sitting in front of the cameras with their short skirts showing off their sexy legs, blabbering nonsensical scripts furnished to them by the voyeur-in-chief Roger Ailes. It's no wonder that it attracts a mostly old white guy audience.

    Why aren't more women protesting that exploitation?
  • Other Party
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    Why would they change a formula that works?

    They KILL their competition, or so they claim.