Video: LA DPW insults Japanese-Americans?

posted at 2:01 pm on May 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

There’s something about government attempts at video humor that don’t just fall flat, but causes jaws to drop.  CBS’ Los Angeles affiliate discovered an instructional video produced at taxpayer expense by the city’s water district that set a skit in the Japanese Gardens, which uses reclaimed water to keep the well-known site beautiful and blooming.  Had they just produced a straightforward walk-through documentary, they might have made something worthwhile.  Instead, the city had to apologize for officially producing the most offensive Asian performance by a non-Asian actor since Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (via Instapundit):

The City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works is under fire for producing a controversial video depicting the Asian community—all with taxpayer money, according to CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein.

The video, shot at the Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, showed a non-Asian man dressed as a geisha girl who talked with a mock Japanese accent.

“The Japanese water park is a beautiful, beautiful site, with blooming, blooming lotus and water lilies,” the actor said.

The short was apparently meant to teach viewers about recycled water, which is what they use at the Japanese Garden.

It’s not as if the city doesn’t understand about racial sensitivity, either.  Their site features a few videos with rapping, but as a representative for Media Action Network for Asian Americans points out, they don’t have the same actor here dressed up in blackface for those videos:

They also have a YouTube channel where Goldstein found more than a dozen other unusual videos, with stories like the “History of Trash” and “L.A. CityWorks Rap.” …

Guy Aoki with Media Action Network for Asian Americans, an organization that advocates for Asians in Hollywood, said that’s a double standard.

“They don’t have the same actor, for instance, putting on makeup trying to pretend to be a black person. There is a certain kind of taboo where, ‘Oh no, we can’t do a blackface, but it’s okay to pretend to be Asian,” he said.

DPW apparently spends $48,000 a year making and publishing these videos. Er … why?


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