Ugh, seriously? What the fuck, Steve Harvey?
A reader tip to Angry Asian Man drew our attention to an ass-tastic monologue segment by comedian/daytime TV show personality Steve Harvey on his show last week. Harvey, who is the host of the self-titled talk show Steve Harvey in which this segment aired, spent an uncomfortably long stretch of time Friday morning telling unfunny racial jokes about Asian men.
Harvey is also currently the host of Family Feud, a morning radio show called The Steve Harvey Morning Show, and the Miss Universe pageant (where he famously announced the wrong winner on live television).
Last Friday morning, Harvey included a book titled “How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men” in a list of ridiculous self-help and self-care books. The 200-page book was published in 2002 by Asian World Press, Ltd, which judging by its Netscape Navigator-era website and the fact that it lists this book as its sole publication, was created solely for this purpose. The book’s writer is Adam Quan, who describes himself as an “International Business Consultant [who has] successfully dated women of many nationalities”. For unknown reasons, the book is listed on Amazon with an asking price of over $1800.
Customer reviews of “How to Date a White Woman” are less than stellar: one Amazon customer reviewer who appears to have purchased the book in seriousness says that it is poorly written and unhelpful. The race and gender politics surrounding this book’s marketing and framing are clumsily regressive, and those issues do not appear to be dealt with in its writing. There’s clearly a lot of fodder here for making jokes about bad self-help books. Indeed, Angry Asian Man reminds us that he’s been making fun of this book since 2004.
Steve Harvey, however, doesn’t take that route. Instead, he deploys cheap and unfunny racial stereotype against Asian Americans, invoking caricatures of asexual Asian men and exotic Asian foods (video after the jump) in “jokes” (and I use that term very loosely) only funny to Harvey and his studio audience.
Here’s the transcript:
Steve Harvey: Finally, here’s one — “How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men.”
That’s one-paged, too.
“Excuse me — Do you like Asian men?” “No.” “Thank you.”
“How to Date a Black Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men.” Same thing, same thing.
You like Asian men? I don’t even like Chinese food. It don’t stay with you no time. I don’t eat what I can’t pronounce.
Hardy-fuckin’-har-har-har. Fuck you, Steve Harvey.
In this segment, Harvey reaches for the low-hanging fruit of racial stereotype to make fun of Asian/Asian American male sexuality, and to denigrate Asian cuisine as inferior, exotic and disgusting. In so doing, he used the large platform of his television show to reinforce two damaging anti-Asian stereotypes: that Asian and Asian American men are “emasculated” (caveat: an important note on language), and that we and our food are abnormal (and thus, that we are Perpetual Foreigners). It further reminds me of a bit from Hari Kondabolu’s latest album, Mainstream American Comic, wherein he rails against the problematic nature of comparing people of colour to food. Says Kondabolu in an interview:
“I’ve had people talking to me about yoga, about their trips to India, about their Indian friends, about a wedding they went to. They think it’s somehow relatable and it makes them interesting. And it’s something they want to talk about. But you’re using a person as a prop for your experiences, for your conversation. Something [that person] is unwillingly being forced into. It also narrows their own identity into some generic Indian, and [it’s] somehow connected to food.
None of these issues apparently crossed Steve Harvey’s mind when he decided to build a series of shitty punchlines around the stereotype that all Asian men are sexually undesirable and that all Asian foods give you diarrhea.
On so many levels, fuck Steve Harvey on this one. Seriously.