Jay's most popular segment was "Jaywalking," in which he took a camera crew to the streets of Southern California and asked random strangers to answer simple questions. Naturally, the ones who gave the dumbest answers were featured on the program. Before signing off the late night Leno show, he presented this retrospective of the most ridiculous responses going back to the nineties.
Now, fast forward to Thursday afternoon, September 8, 2011. In the process of reading about news in Southern California, I saw a link to a story titled "Fox Sports cancels show after video mocks Asians." I clicked on the link to the story and read it...
...The Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, Colo. reported (http://goo.gl/RmKAE) about the video and the network issued an apology. The video shows a comedian approaching Asian students at USC and asking them to welcome the universities of Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 Conference. The comedian tells the students to give the new Pac-12 members an "all-American welcome" and then mocks students' accents....and then I clicked on a link to the video. I thought I was going to see something obviously, outrageously, demonstrably bigoted. Here it is:
My reaction viewing the Oschack video: "You've GOT to be kidding me. Who could be offended by this?"
Answer: This guy. Dr. Daryl J. Maeda, a University of Colorado professor in ... oh, you're way ahead of me, aren't ya? OK, let's all say it together. One, two, three ... ETHNIC STUDIES!
From the Daily Camera report, mentioned in the AP story, here's why Maeda's knickers were twisted by the video (bold mine):
[A] University of Colorado ethnic studies professor said Tuesday that he finds it troubling, saying it perpetuates racist myths about Asians being "un-American."
For the video, Bob Oschack -- a comedian who labeled himself as an "investigative reporter" for Fox Sports -- approached Asian students on the USC campus, asking them how they feel about CU and the University of Utah becoming the newest members of the Pac-12 conference. In his introduction, Oschack says: "Let's give the conference's two newest members a good, old-fashioned, all-American welcome!" He then appears to mock students' accents, corrects their grammatical mistakes in a seemingly condescending tone and pretends to mistake what they're saying for the sake of laughs.
One student enthusiastically say (sic), "Welcome to Colorado and Utah!" and is interrupted by Oschack: "No, you're saying welcome to Colorado and Utah. We're in Los Angeles." He also includes a student who admits that she doesn't know much about football and says, "Welcome Colorado and Utah to the top 12."View the video again. At what point does Oschack "mock [their] accents"? He did correct the student at 1:00 when he thought Oschack said "You talk" when he was saying "Utah," and when other said "Welcome to Colorado," but that was because he wasn't saying what Oschack was requesting: "Welcome Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12!" And what "condescending tone" is heard in Oschack's voice either at that point, or when he is asking about the insertion of the word "fighting" into the greeting?
Daryl Maeda, a professor in CU's Ethnic Studies department, said that Fox Sports should be apologizing to Asian Americans -- not just the USC community -- who are demeaned by the video. He also said that Fox should publicly reprimand Oschack.It is at this point that Maeda puts his years of ethnic studies indoctrination to use by referencing previous generations of Caucasians' misdeeds toward minorities and pretending it's somehow relevant to the video. Observe (bold mine):
Despite the fact that Asians have been in the United States for more than a century and a half, Maeda said, they are frequently seen as perpetual foreigners and the antithesis of "good Americans." Oschack reinforces this stereotype, Maeda said, when he purports to give CU and Utah an "All-American welcome" to the Pac-12, then goes out of his way to find Asian students for whom English is a second language.
"This is demeaning to millions of Asian Americans who have put down deep roots in the United States, claim English as their language and root vigorously for their favorite sports teams," Maeda said. Oschack's portrayal of Asian Americans as "perpetual foreigners" harks back to racist actions such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Maeda said.
"It has no place in a diverse and civil society," he said.Can Maeda make a literate case for his outrage by using anything other than a broad brush? Let's take these one at a time, shall we?
- Oschack, says Maeda, reinforced the stereotype that "Asians ... are ... perpetual foreigners and the antithesis of 'good Americans.'"
Really? How did Oschack do this? By asking people he reliably had an expectation didn't give a rip about USC football, asking them about it, and letting the hilarity unfold? How is such an approach to comedy (regardless of whether you find it amusing) also a message that they are anything other than "good Americans"?
- The video clip is "demeaning to millions of Asian Americans who have put down deep roots in the United States, claim English as their language and root vigorously for their favorite sports teams," says Maeda.
How so? These students in particular were in blissful ignorance of the expansion of the Pac-10 conference. They know enough English to be conversational with Oschack, who likely doesn't know a word of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean he can't read off of a menu, but it clearly is still their second language. As with the "Jaywalking" clip in which no knowledgeable people were featured, if such Asian students were typical party-hearty tailgating foam-finger wearing Trojan fans who were walking around in team jerseys, they wouldn't be included in the final cut. And rather than the Jaywalkers' ignorance about general information, the Asian USC students were ignorant about college football. Big deal!
This is the biggest overreach of all, one that cannot be excused:Who are these people Maeda is talking about who think there's something wrong with these young men and women if they aren't sports junkies? If in the future you have a surgeon, a dentist, or an architect who attended USC and you try to engage him or her about whether or not the Trojans went to the Rose Bowl when they went, wouldn't you be reassured if they replied, "I wasn't into football, I was buried in my textbooks"?
- Maeda says "Oschack's portrayal of Asian Americans as 'perpetual foreigners' harks back to racist actions such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act."
(Notice how stealthily it is accepted by Daily Camera writer Brittany Anas that "perpetual foreigners" is how Oschack has portrayed the students, and not how Maeda impugns Oschack's intent.)
Maeda is suggesting that because Oschack asked serious, studious Asian USC students to briefly repeat some stuff they knew nothing about for a silly cable TV sports segment that somehow, his ideological forebears are people who supported restricting immigration from pre-Maoist China in 1882 and the imprisonment of everyone with Japanese surnames within U.S. borders in 1942.
Again, does Maeda really believe this? Is it possible for such a credentialed scholar to be that intellectually lazy? Or, is he just trying to justify his designation as an expert by whipping something out of nothing since it is one of few opportunities he has to make an impact outside the closed circle of academia?
Maeda knows better, thinks he and others like him, because he's got a degree qualifying him to make such judgments. Well, in my book, Maeda's one of those sorry persons who has shunted his individuality aside in order to put his ethnicity out front, always thinking other people are seeing him as a race first and a person second. He's always half-cocked, ready to fire at the slightest provocation. Like this fictional guy in a famous scene from Seinfeld:
(ORIGINAL UPDATE: Fox Sports has had the video I originally embedded pulled from YouTube. Before finding the one above linked by the Los Angeles Times site,, the only working copy I was able to find was a Media Matters-watermarked version of the video, which is embedded on a website called Channel APA [Asian Pacific America]. The site describes itself as "an experiment building an Asian American 'channel.'" The webmasters titled the post featuring the Oschack piece as "Racist FOX Sports piece with Bob Oschack."
I found it interesting that while the people at Channel APA were infuriated by Bob Oschack's brand of humor, they were amused by -- and perhaps had other physical reactions to -- a porn parody featuring adult actress Mika Tan and another woman calling herself "Sum Ting Wong." The title of the video, which they've proudly linked on the site? "Mr. Chew's Asian Beaver," complete with a panda mascot with a conical straw hat.
Nothing stereotypical or racist about that, right? Nawwwww.)