Jay Leno, a man I have not thought of since at least 2004 but who allegedly still appears regularly on television, has apologized for decades’ worth of anti-Asian humor upon threat of being fired, in much the same way I “apologized” for being caught napping during my shift at Abercrombie in college.
According to Variety, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) has been trying to get something done about Jay Leno’s penchant for his recurring, unfunny, and racist bit about Asian people eating dog meat for 15 years now. But it’s only in light of the rising tide of violence against Asian-Americans, and the shooting deaths of six Asian-American women in Atlanta spas, that the network suits have finally gotten around to telling Jay to knock it the fuck off:
“Long outspoken about his routines, MANAA’s [Guy] Aoki said he appealed to Leno’s new employers at Fox, where he hosts the game show “You Bet Your Life,” initially offering them an ultimatum of firing the host or MANAA would approach sponsors to boycott the project,” Variety reports.
And like a hungover 21-year-old caught in the middle of a REM cycle while on the clock, woozily and sloppily kind of apologize he did!
“‘At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki. ‘I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.’”
In fact, the apology just kept dribbling out of him:
“At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
“I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
“At the time” appears twice in this apology, giving the impression that the time was long ago. Yet per a previous Variety report, the “time” was as recently as last year, when Leno broke out the old dog-eating “humor” on an episode of Americas Got Talent. Speaking of, despite the parabolic impossibility of teaching old dogs new tricks, it would appear that one can teach a 70-year-old white male Boomer to issue a non-apology by threatening to take his money and attention away.