Jay Leno Apologizes for Years of Anti-Asian Jokes

Jay Leno, the longtime “Tonight Present” host, apologized for a historical past of creating anti-Asian jokes, saying that on the time he “genuinely thought them to be innocent” however now hopes for forgiveness from Asian-People.

The comic stated in a joint assertion with the Media Motion Community for Asian People, a watchdog group that tracks anti-Asian feedback and incidents within the media and leisure industries, that he had an perspective on the time that “some group is at all times complaining about one thing, so don’t fear about it.” At any time when the present obtained a grievance, he stated, the response was divided into two camps: “We have to cope with this” or “screw ’em if they’ll’t take a joke.”

“Too many occasions I sided with the latter even when in my coronary heart I knew it was incorrect,” Mr. Leno stated. “That’s the reason I’m issuing this apology. I don’t take into account this specific case to be one other instance of cancel tradition however a reliable incorrect that was performed on my half.”

It was a latest realization. In 2019, Mr. Leno, who hosted “The Tonight Present” from 1992 to 2014, made an offensive anti-Asian joke whereas filming a business for “America’s Obtained Expertise,” the actor and producer Gabrielle Union told Variety.

MANAA, the watchdog group, had complained for decades about Mr. Leno’s jokes that relied on stereotypes of Asians, to no avail. Rob Chan, the president of the group, stated within the assertion that he was “comfortable that Jay got here round, and that we’ll be working collectively sooner or later.”

Mr. Leno is slated to host a rebooted sport present, “You Guess Your Life,” beginning within the fall.

Mr. Leno’s apology got here as Asian-People have endured rising discrimination and racist language throughout the coronavirus pandemic, whereas additionally processing the trauma of a latest mass capturing within the Atlanta space during which six of the eight victims have been girls of Asian descent. Mr. Leno stated he can be “deeply damage and ashamed if by some means my phrases did something to incite this violence.”

Some Asian-People have lengthy argued that their considerations about anti-Asian speech are frequently dismissed as trivial. Asian-People have traditionally been underrepresented in Hollywood and in comedy, and in 2016, a bit by the comic Chris Rock that relied on Asian stereotypes made it to the Oscars ceremony.

Whereas late-night comedians decide a wide range of targets, it’s not the primary time Mr. Leno has been criticized for jokes that received laughs on the time. Just lately, a documentary about Britney Spears by The New York Times introduced elevated scrutiny to jokes by several late-night hosts about her psychological well being. Mr. Leno has not apologized to the singer, although others, together with Justin Timberlake and a few publications, have stated they remorse their conduct.

Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.

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