L.A. Asian American Groups Call for Shane Gillis to Apologize for ‘Offensive Racial Remarks’ — or Netflix Should Cut Ties

Several Asian American groups gathered in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles Thursday afternoon to call for comedian Shane Gillis to apologize for using “offensive racial remarks” in his stand-up performances

Published Time: 07.06.2024 - 06:31:25 Modified Time: 07.06.2024 - 06:31:25

Several Asian American groups gathered in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles Thursday afternoon to call for comedian Shane Gillis to apologize for using “offensive racial remarks” in his stand-up performances.

Leaders of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, Chinese American Citizens Alliance Los Angeles and the Greater Los Angeles Japanese American Citizens League gathered at the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Lodge for a press conference, in which the groups also implored Netflix to cancel Gillis’ new sitcom “Tires” and that Bud Light cut all promotional funding toward his comedy tour unless an apology is issued.

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“For centuries, xenophobic stereotypes and slurs that cast Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners have endangered our communities, as seen most recently in the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents since 2020,” California House representative Judy Chu said in a statement, delivered at the conference by Mitchell Matsumura, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. “I hope now, after these years of hate and discrimination against our communities, Mr. Gillis has taken the time to reflect upon his past words and actions and will finally apologize to the Asian American community.”

Gillis received criticism in September 2019 after videos of him using slurs resurfaced online. A podcast guest appearance in 2018 featured Gillis stating, “Chinatown is fucking crazy… Let the fucking ch—s live there.” Another video saw Gillis calling then-presidential candidate Andrew Yang a “Jew ch—.”

At the time, Gillis had been recently announced as a new member of “Saturday Night Live,” but the controversy was followed by him being dropped from the show just four days after the casting. In a statement at the time, Gillis said, “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I said. My intention is never to hurt anyone. But I’m trying to be -

the best comedian I can be. And sometimes that requires risks.”

MANAA founding president Guy Aoki called the quote a “lame apology” at the Chinatown press conference on Thursday. Gillis would later renege his apology on another podcast in November 2019: “Saying that I felt fucking corny. I don’t know if I really hurt too many people.”

In the years since, Gillis has emerged as a prominent name in comedy. Along with a successful stand-up tour, he independently produced “Tires” before selling the six-episode series to Netflix, which has since renewed it for a second season. His “SNL” arc also came full circle this spring, when he hosted an episode.

At the press conference, Aoki shared that he sent letters to both Netflix and Anheuser Busch brewing company demanding Gillis make amends. The lack of response prompted him and other Asian American community leaders to hold a press conference on the matter.

“All of this sends a very hurtful message. If you duck a few years, slowly build your career back up and continue on as if nothing had happened, you can come back even stronger than ever,” Aoki said. “There’s a history of the industry allowing comedians who make offensive racial remarks… to not have to apologize.”

Cindy Wu, founder of the Anti-Asian Hate Coalition, said that Gillis’ refusal to take responsibility is “deepening the wounds” of Asian American communities.

“The aftermath of COVID-19 has led to many Asian Americans grappling with increased discrimination and violence. Our communities are still healing,” said Wu. “So I call for accountability and apology.”

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