James Corden’s Food Bit Draws Ire and a Petition For It to End

by Msnbctv news staff


“The next time we do that bit, we absolutely won’t involve or use any of those foods,” Mr. Corden said. “Our show is a show about joy and light and love. We don’t want to make a show to upset anybody.”

Mr. Corden’s staff did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

“We’re in a kind of cultural moment where bits like this one exist with this increasing acceptance of cultural foods,” said Alison Alkon, a professor at the University of the Pacific. “We’re kind of in this Ping-Pong dialectic.”

Using food to prompt a response of disgust, for entertainment, has a long history, said Merry White, an anthropology professor at Boston University. In the United States, the game show “Fear Factor” challenged contestants to eat foods with ingredients like fish eyes, cow bile and coagulated blood paste. Reactistan, a YouTube reaction channel, has had Pakistani people try foods that were strange to them, like American hamburgers, doughnuts and candies such as Ring Pops and Airheads.

Even Mr. Corden, who is British, hosted a segment using foods from his homeland, such as haggis and a smoothie with fish, chips and mushy peas.

Lok Siu, an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said the practice disrespects people’s cultures. The choice of Asian foods has made Asian Americans feel more vulnerable or marginalized during a time of rising violence against them.

The perception of Asians in the United States has historically been defined through food, Professor Siu said.

“You use food as a metaphor to describe that distance, the kind of strangeness between a group of people that you don’t understand and their habits, the way they’re eating, the smell that comes with the spices,” she said. “There’s something around the way we discuss food, the way we think about food in our acceptance or rejection of it, it’s a rejection of a culture and the people that’s associated with it.”



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