Volume Four, Issue 1

Jimmy Kimmel - I’m Asian and I’m Not Laughing

Amy Lee

I almost loved Kimmel’s work. Until he mimicked Andrew Yang as a naked nonsensical cartwheeling candidate.

My uncomfortable reaction against Kimmel’s treatment of Andrew Yang over a month ago still stewed. I wondered whether I was the one with the problem, i.e. oversensitive to bad jokes to people of color guised as backhanded compliments.

On 26 November 2019, Kimmel congratulated Laura Dern on her performance in Marriage Story before speculating at an Oscar nomination. He did not cut her down with a “But I don’t think you’ll win the Oscar” snipe. Yet on the same evening, Kimmel dismissed Yang with a “But I don’t think you’ll be President” quip. The host further doubted the Asian male sexuality by asking Yang whether his wife found him “more sexually attractive” after he announced his candidacy. Kimmel displayed an unfortunate meme of Yang being strangled. It was baffling to witness an Asian male candidate treated so drastically inferior.

I felt bad for Andrew Yang’s brave look at the end because it is a mask I’ve worn myself. The same soldier on look I put on when people look around me and beyond me during meetings as if they were waiting for a “more senior” person to arrive. The self-deprecating “Asian blonde” joke I learn to tell to disarm people’s apprehensions against my age, gender or ethnicity to somehow fit in the corporate world.

Surprisingly, some Yang supporters commented on You-Tube that we should be grateful that he was invited onto the show. We are so bruised by belittling that we don’t even recognise it. As minorities, we have been conditioned that we should polite and grateful to the extent that we don’t even realise inappropriateness.

Andrew Yang was right after all. The war is not just on normal people. The cultural war continues against people of color even on seemingly innocuous late night shows.

Amy Lee: "I am a lawyer, emerging writer and poet based in Seattle. My work was published The Courier Mail, the Bulletin, Thrive Global, HR.Com, The F-Word, Cicerone and FemAsia. I hold a BA/LLB from the University of Queensland and LLM from the Melbourne University. I have worked in-house for major corporations on LNG projects and now live in Seattle where I volunteer as a career coach for Hopelink and at the Seattle Repertory Theatre Shop."

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