During a children’s segment in a late night talk show in the United States, a child proposed to wipe out the Chinese as a solution to the US$1.3 trillion (RM4.17 trillion) debt to China. The Chinese were not amused.
A POPULAR Chinese idiom, Tong yan wu ji, loosely translated means that one should not take offence at what a child says.
The phrase is used to show that a child should not be taken seriously when he or she utters something improper or inauspicious, especially in an unacceptable manner.
It implies that kids say the darndest things, which are candid and laughable at times.
But when a child proposed to wipe out the Chinese during the Jimmy Kimmel Live show as a solution to the US$1.3 trillion (RM4.17 trillion) debt to China, the Chinese were not amused.
During the ABC Network’s late-night programme that was aired on Oct 16, a segment was dedicated to a group of young children having a light-hearted roundtable discussion.
When host Jimmy Kimmel asked for suggestions on how to pay China back, a blond boy answered, “Shoot cannons all the way over and kill everyone in China,” slamming his hands on the table.
“Kill everyone in China? Okay that’s an interesting idea,” Kimmel responded with a laugh.
Another child suggested building a huge wall to prevent the Chinese from coming after them, to which Kimmel replied, “That will never happen.”
Kimmel later asked the panel of four, “Should we allow the Chinese to live?”
The kids had mixed opinions – the screen showed a girl raising her clenched fist, shouting “Yes!” while the blond boy stood by his earlier answer.
“But if we don’t allow them to live, then they will try to kill us,” said another girl who tried to talk some sense into the boy.
“But they’re all going to be killed (first),” two kids, including the blond boy and the girl who had earlier shouted “yes” out loud, argued.
Kimmel wrapped up the segment, noting that it was an “interesting edition of the Kids Talk – the Lord of the Flies edition”.
(Lord of the Flies, a novel by William Golding, tells the story of how a group of boys govern themselves on a deserted island after a plane crash.)
This particular segment has sparked a backlash with viewers commenting that the skit was racially insensitive.
Protests were staged outside ABC studios, prompting ABC and Kimmel to apologise, but the controversy has not died down.
As of Thursday morning, more than 104,000 online signatures were collected on the White House petitions page, urging the Obama administration to investigate the show.
Since the petition had reached the 100,000-signature threshold in 30 days, the White House was compelled to issue a formal response.
Meanwhile, in China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told a press conference that ABC should reflect on its mistake and respond to the Chinese Americans with a sincere attitude.
On Wednesday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that it had received a response from White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
“As the President has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China. He believes it is in the United States’ interest that China continues on the path of success, because we believe that a peaceful, stable, and prosperous China is good for the United States, China, and the world.
“The comments reported on the Jimmy Kimmel show do not reflect mainstream views in the United States on China,” she said.
The controversy has also ignited discussions on the Internet as well.
Nick Zhang Xu, who made waves in cyberspace last year with a video of him speaking English in 10 different accents, responded with a video titled “Jimmy Kimmel, you owe us an apology”.
Since it was uploaded to Youku – the Chinese equivalent of YouTube – about 20 days ago, it has been viewed more than 35,000 times.
“What kind of education do the kids have in America? They can just shout out loud ‘kill everyone?’” Zhang asked.
“‘This is an interesting idea.’ You find it amusing. You don’t call it wrong in the first place. What’s the matter with you?”
While sending a strong message across, it was hard not to note that Zhang had attempted to inject some humour into the video as well.
“You know what? We can make shows (to defame you) too. We are really good at remaking things.”
Some Youku users threw their support behind Zhang and agreed that the Kimmel’s skit had painted a larger picture on the culture of violence and hatred.
But there were also people who believed that the kids’ comments were harmless and called for fellow Chinese to be less sensitive.
“We place too much emphasis on “saving face” and cannot afford to have others making fun of us. This is just an entertainment programme,” a user said.
Contributed by Check In China Tho Xin Yi
The Star/Asia News Network
Chinese Americans protest across US over Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘kill Chinese’ skit
Thousands of protesters, mostly Chinese, rallied in 27 US cities over a perceived anti-Chinese skit that aired last month in a talk show hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
Chinese state media reported that protests swept across the United States on Saturday. One was staged at the Los Angeles headquarters of broadcaster ABC, which aired the programme. Participants argued that ABC and Kimmel had not taken full responsibility for what they perceived as an insult to their heritage.
The protesters called for Kimmel to be fired over a segment of his talk show called “Kids’ Table” that aired on October 16. Both ABC and Kimmel have since apologised for the episode, in which a six-year-old boy said “kill everyone in China” when asked by Kimmel how the US should pay back the country’s US$1.3 trillion debt to China. Kimmel responded: “That’s an interesting idea.”
However, Chinese-American groups were not impressed. While some accepted the apologies that were offered after the subsequent uproar, others viewed them as insincere and demanded more. Charles Lu, chairman of the Roundtable of Chinese American Organisations, told the Los Angeles Times last week that they wanted a formal apology from ABC not just to the groups protesting, but to all Chinese people around the world.
Online pictures of Saturday’s protests showed demonstrators, including college students, parents and children, dressed in red T-shirts with logos reading “Teach kids to love, not to kill”, and chanting slogans such as “Kimmel must go” and “Shame on you, ABC”.
Protest organisers distributed free posters to demonstrators. One featured Kimmel with a swastika just above his head.
“The protest plays an important role in improving our prestige and national cohesiveness,” a Chinese demonstrator in New Jersey said on internet chat room Mitbbs. “The parade is intended to raise the social status of Chinese Americans in the US.”
The segment also prompted the submission of a petition to the White House to investigate the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show on the grounds of offensive content. The petition garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
Xinhua said 800 people attended a rally in Washington, where a letter of protest to ABC was read out. The letter urged the broadcaster to fire Kimmel and hold a press conference to officially apologise to Chinese communities. It called on ABC to make sure that such “rhetoric of racial discrimination” was prevented by stepping up regulation of its televised content.
No one from ABC attended the event in Washington to accept the protest letter, reports said. Police were mobilised to maintain order, but the day ended without incident.
The demonstrations are believed to have been the largest held by the Chinese community in the US since those just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in response to CNN commentator Jack Cafferty labelling Chinese leaders “goons” and “thugs”.
Video: Animators in China to Jimmy Kimmel: Why you shouldn’t ‘Kill the Chinese’
Contributed By Keith Zhai firstname.lastname@example.org