Good Eats “Turning Japanese” is a trainwreck

“Good Eats” is a cooking/educational show on The Food Network hosted by Alton Brown. This episode was supposed to be about Japanese cuisine but it seems it’s main course was racism against Asians.

From the get-go the title aims to mock Asians. “Turning Japanese” is a song from The Vapors (1980) that claims people “look Japanese” at the moment of a sexual climax. It sets the tone for the rest of the episode because only a minute and a half into the show we’re introduced to a White guy doing yellowface, with a topknot wig and a squinty, over-serious expression. Kimono and “Samurai” sword accessories are included. The purpose of this character was to show that you can get Japanese food products in America. But why not have a Japanese actor play this part? I guess the producers of this show didn’t think a Japanese actor in “Western” clothes speaking normal English could convey that point?

Throughout the show he speaks gibberish “Japanese” in a mockingly deep and serious voice. At one point he discovers he’s selling a bad product. So what’s the only natural course of action for “dem serious robotic Japs?” He tries to kill himself! Sadly, he doesn’t succeed. At the end of the episode the character is speaking that gibberish “Japanese” while stuffing his face full of noodles. Perfect way to round out a disgusting stereotype.

But wait, there actually is a real Asian guy in this episode! Of course, it’s an actor playing the evil and greedy inventor of MSG. He laughingly holds buckets of money up while people suffer from the effects of his creation. Can’t have a main dish of racism without a side of “evil, greedy, conniving Asians?”.

Here we have the White guy in full yellowface, scowling and squinting his eyes to “look more Japanese”.

The yellowface character pulls out a “Samurai” sword and lets out a “battle cry” when he thinks the host is going to steal something.

When the host finds that Mr. Yellowface is selling a product with MSG the “Japanese” character attempts to kill himself after he finds out he’s selling a bad product. This follows that “Shamefur Dispray” meme found online.

As mentioned, an Asian actor is used by only when talking about the invention of MSG and the health problems it’s associated with. The Asian guy is shown to have greatly profited from MSG, followed by discussion of the health problems MSG has caused. This perpetuates the stereotype of the conniving Asian man/greedy foreigner harming people for profit.

The show ends on a racist note with a final bit of yellowface. The “Asian” character is shown as a mannerless glutton, stuffing his face with noodles as he speaks his gibberish “Japanese”.

The White guy, of course, is calm and composed as he does his best to “tolerate” the Asian guy.

OFFENDER: Food Network
CATEGORY OF OFFENSE: Denigration ( Mockery of Asians)
OFFENSE DATE: November 2, 2009


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