Racism On How I Met Your Mother?

robin

How I Met Your Mother is winding down it’s final season with less than 24 hours left until Robin and Barney’s wedding, an event which will undoubtedly set the stage for the meeting between Ted Mosby and his future soul mate. As the episodes wind down, one episode is receiving negative media attention tainting what the creators had hoped would be an amicable series end.

In episode 14 of the 9th and final season, “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”, Marshall embarks on a journey to Shanghai in order to learn slap techniques from different masters. In each of his encounters with the three masters (played by Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan and Josh Radnor, all principal characters and all of non Asian descent), we are surrounded by Asians in a restaurant setting. As the masters are revealed, they are dressed in traditional Chinese clothing, and made up to look like Asians, including the use of a Chinese fan by Smulders, and a Fu Manchu mustache on Radnor.

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In one scene with Hannigan, we see her eating a bowl of soup noodles with what looks like Japanese sushi in it, a very atypical combination by both Japanese and Chinese standards alike.

The question remains: is it racist? The public chimed in and it seems to be split. Some people think the overuse of Asian stereo-types is offensive the same way black-face is deemed offensive. Others believe that the episode was paying homage to the old kung fu flicks from the 70′s and 80′s.

I believe that in order to classify something as racist, there needs to be some sort of maliciousness involved. Racism is defined as the belief that race accounts for differences in character and ability, and it’s usually used as a reason to justify another race’s superiority. In this particular case, while there are some clear opinions on how the characters should look or act, were these characteristics determined by the race of the characters or by the genre the episode was trying to portray?

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Overall, my consensus is as follows:

Racist: No.
Stereo-typing: Yes
Ignorant: A little.

Many detractors are also claiming that the racism was a result of a lack of Asian writers at CBS. But important to note is that Kourtney Kang, a half Korean half Irish producer, is one of the head writers at the show and currently the show’s executive producer. She was almost certain to have weighed in on the issue of political correctness after the show was written, so does it change your opinion on whether or not the episode was racist knowing that an Asian American producer gave it a green light?

Regardless of whether or not you agree if it’s racist, the show’s co-creator Carter Bays was apologetic and offered the following on his Twitter account:

carter

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