How I Met Your Racism
Any fan of CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” is aware of the long-running joke where Jason Segel’s character slaps Neil Patrick Harris’s character in the face for a variety of hilarious reasons. This modern Three Stooges homage was greeted with harsh criticism from the Asian American community after the airing of a recent episode. The episode featured Jason Segel’s character going on a Kung Fu quest to learn the “slap of a million exploding suns.” The rest of the cast, Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor, depicted “grandmasters” who dressed in traditional Asian garb, spoke in exaggerated Asian accents, and were surrounded by Asian extras.
Asian Americans flocked to Twitter after the episode to criticize what they felt to be racist Asian stereotyping by the creators and actors. There was also criticism for the show’s failure to cast Asian actors to depict the “grandmasters.” The hashtag “#HowIMetYourRacism” was used to express their outrage. BuzzFeed collected the following Tweets:
@suey_park: “I used to watch @HowIMetMother but I now refuse to and hope they apologize for yellowface. #HowIMetYourRacism.”
@shereenTshafi: “Really, #HIMYM?? You couldn’t even bring yourself to hire Asian actors for this?”
@SeouljaboyPark: “@CBS #Yellowface doesn’t get you better ratings, it just makes people want to boycott your network #HowIMetYourRacism.”
@LookMalCanWrite: “I’m not surprised about #howimetyourracism and #yellowface on @CBS. The network’s name warned us that we’ll see BS.”
@AidaaOz: “I remember the very first episode of HIMYM where Middle Eastern women (lebanese to be exact)were deemed as sexual objects #HowIMetYourRacism.”
The show’s co-creator Carter Bay quickly took to Twitter to apologize. Bay Tweeted, “With Monday’s episode, we set out to make a silly and unabashedly immature homage to Kung Fu movies, a genre we’ve always loved. But along the way we offended people. We’re deeply sorry, and we’re grateful to everyone who spoke up to make us aware of it.”
This is the latest instance of the Asian American community’s use of social media to speak out against what they believe to be offensive stereotypes in the media. Other instances include criticism for a skit on Jimmy Kimmel Live that involved the killing of Chinese people as a method for solving the U.S.’s debt, and Katy Perry’s geisha outfit at the American Music Awards.