Is it time to cancel James Corden?

I don’t watch James Corden’s show but apparently he has a recurring segment titled “Spill your guts or fill your guts.” It’s basically a version of truth-or-dare in which a celebrity sits down in front of a rotating table filled with unusual foods. They then get asked an embarrassing question and have to choose between answering honestly or eating something they may not enjoy.

Sometime last year a 24-year-old Californian named Kim Saira decided a particular segment which originally aired back in 2016 was offensive to her. This week she decided to make a pretty minimalist TikTok video calling the 5-year-old comedy clip “racist af.”

@kimssaira

ok but this is actual Asian food & youre going on live tv telling people how gross it is. thats cringe

♬ original sound – Kim Saira

That video got a lot of views so Saira started a Change.org petition connecting the comedy segment to bullying of Asian Americans and asking Corden to apologize and either stop mocking Asian food or simply cancel the segment:

During these segments, he’s openly called these foods “really disgusting,” and “horrific.” In the wake of the constant Asian hate crimes that have continuously been occurring, not only is this segment incredibly culturally offensive and insensitive, but it also encourages anti-Asian racism. So many Asian Americans are consistently bullied and mocked for their native foods, and this segment amplifies and encourages it…

Changes being requested:

  • Completely change the food presented on his show to something else, or remove the segment entirely
  • A formal apology statement from James on his show, including steps he will be taking to do better in the future
  • Funds donated to local Asian American organizations that are working to help Asian-owned restaurants and small businesses

Since Tuesday that petition has picked up nearly 14,000 signatures. And all of that led to an interview with TODAY Food in which Saira explained her motives:

“I thought you know he was funny, he had like good content on his show,” she told TODAY Food. But that feeling shifted changed last year when she watched an old segment from the show called “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.”…

“I noticed that one of the foods that he presented to someone was balut (a fertilized duck egg that is boiled and eaten from the shell), and balut is like, very specific to Filipino culture,” she explained. “It’s a food that I have been eating whenever I go to the Philippines with my grandma and my cousins, so it’s a very sentimental food to me, and I noticed that he was presenting it to a guest and calling it gross.”

“I was just so confused and I feel like it was a moment of me just being like, ‘Oh my gosh, like, this is my culture. I don’t understand why he’s making fun of it?'”

In today’s environment I don’t think Corden can afford to ignore this story. If he hasn’t apologized already, I’m sure he will soon. As for the segment itself, I thought it was sort of funny. I’ve never eaten any of the items on the table and all of them look pretty disgusting to me with the possible exception of the hot sauce which might be good in very small doses. Is this racist?

When I was in Tokyo a few years ago I was presented with natto as an appetizer before lunch. Natto is something many Japanese people eat and I was determined to try it but it was not easy. Natto is fermented beans (meaning they are sort of slimy) that are also kind of bitter and are served cold. Nothing about this combination was appealing to me but I took a bite and, wow!, it was as horrible as it looked. My family took a photo of that moment and they still laugh about it.

But I suspect you could take someone from Japan and offer them, for instance, a peanut butter sandwich and they might have a hard time getting it down, a lot like my reaction to natto. It’s a somewhat universal experience actually. So long as it’s all done in a humorous way, which it clearly is here, I don’t think there’s any harm done.

But that’s clearly not where the culture is headed and I don’t think James Corden is going to be the guy to stand up to the offended 24-year-old. Here’s the clip that turned Kim Saira from a long-time James Corden fan to a prominent critic. What do you think?