Jay Leno issues apology for past jokes targeting Asian communities: 'In my heart, I knew it was wrong'

‘I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part,’ Jay Leno said after a decade of criticism from an Asian American activist group.

FP Trending March 25, 2021 18:19:42 IST
Jay Leno issues apology for past jokes targeting Asian communities: 'In my heart, I knew it was wrong'

Jay Leno attends and performs at Toronto Congress Centre on February 10, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by GP Images/WireImage)

Since the beginning of his career as a comedian, Jay Leno has been famous for making racist comments targeting Asian communities. From Koreans eating dog meat to the Golden Temple being a summer home for Senator Mitt Romney, Leno’s comments offended many across the globe.

The Jay Leno Show host on Wednesday, 24 March, apologized for the first time over the numerous racist jokes he's made for decades. The majority of Leno’s jokes had targeted stereotypes against the Asian communities.

In an official statement, the comedian said, “At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them”.

He further added that in his heart he “knew it was wrong”.

Leno continued: “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.”

The development took place after a long campaign by an advocacy group, Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), against Leno’s comments. According to a Variety report, MANAA’s head Guy Aoki had urged the comedian’s employers at Fox News to take strict action against him.

Aoki had warned the producers of Leno’s famous game show You Bet Your Life Reboot to either fire him or MANAA would approach sponsors to boycott the project.

Aoki finally connected with Leno after an appeal to Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy, and producers David Hurwitz and Tom Werner.

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