Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) — the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive, and positive depiction and coverage of Asian Americans — is criticizing TMZ for a May 30 telecast in which one of its staffers perpetuated stereotypes against Asian people.

The segment opened with one of the show’s reporters telling “Step Up 3D” actor Joe Slaughter about Korea creating parking stalls that are larger for Korean women to make it easier for them to park. When asked if it should be done in the U.S. as well, he responded, “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 fact that things like that happen.”

Joe Slaughter
Joe Slaughter

Then on the show’s set, a TMZ staffer said, “But you know what? 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 segment can be found here.

“First of all,” said MANAA Founding President Guy Aoki, “she describes being full-blooded Chinese — ‘full-blown Chinese’ — as if it’s a disease. 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. For instance, if someone had said a stereotyped characteristic by blacks was because of their large noses or lips, it would have been edited out.

“We’re pointing out the double standard of the situation and the hypocrisy of their website, which exposed Donald Sterling’s racist feelings toward blacks, which got him banned from the NBA.”

“We’re also not too pleased about Joe Slaughter’s comments,” said MANAA’s Miriam Nakamura-Quan, “which implied that all Asian people — in any country — were bad drivers. 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.”

MANAA is asking for TMZ to issue a sincere written and on-air apology and for the staff to undergo sensitivity training regarding Asian Americans in order to avoid ignorant comments in the future. The organization would also like Slaughter to apologize.

Formed in 1992, MANAA is a member of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC), which regularly meets with the top four networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox — to push for better inclusion of Asian Americans. MANAA is also part of the “Grand Coalition” —m including the National Latino Media Council, NAACP, and American Indians in Television and Film — which pushes for diversity in general.

TMZ has not responded to the complaint.

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