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11.22.2009

yellowface ching chong nonsense on saturday night live



Did you catch the cold open on Saturday Night Live this weekend? I can't believe someone thought this was a good idea. You've got a very Caucasian Will Forte as Chinese President Hu Jintao, doing some seriously godawful ching chong, alongside Nasim Pedrad, rocking an equally ass-awful accent as his "translator."

This alone is pretty painful. Whatever joke they're going for is completely sabotaged by the fact that everyone is thinking, "Hey, those two aren't Asian." (At least they didn't tape their eyes back.) But it goes on, with this tired, drawn-out joke about "do sex to me" and Hu literally bending over in front of "Obama."

I don't understand how this kind of racial mockery flies on national broadcast television. Is this not yellowface? No, they didn't use "Oriental" makeup, but there's no denying that the effect is there -- insulting ching chong and all. At the very least, awkward bare minimum, would it have been that hard to get an actual Asian man to just stand there for six minutes?

And yes, I fully acknowledge that there's also been something rather uncomfortable about watching Fred Armisen play Barack Obama for the last couple of seasons. Hell, the whole thing was uncomfortable.