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White House forced to address first grader’s insensitive joke
Jimmy Kimmel laughed off a first grader’s genocidal joke. His Chinese audience didn’t find it as funny.
Move aside Healthcare.gov and national security. The White House has a new issue to address: The insensitive comments of a first grader.
Yes, the White House will be forced to weigh in on the controversy surrounding a Jimmy Kimmel Live Kids Table segment, after an online petition garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
Kids Table is a recurring segment on the show in which Kimmel asks a group of precocious and well-dressed six- and seven-year olds for their opinions on the hottest political issues of the day. In a segment that aired last week, the topic was how the U.S. should handle its $1.3 trillion debt to China. One of the little boys at the table, Braxton, had a rather violent solution.
“Kill everyone in China,” the six-year-old laughed.
The comment elicited a chuckle from Kimmel who eventually brought the discussion back around to Braxton’s genocidal machinations, asking the rest of the youngsters if the Chinese people should be allowed to live.
“If we don’t allow them to live, then they will kill us!” a little girl named Eva warned.
“We’re going to all be killed,” respond Allie.
Kimmel responded to all that with a quip: “This has been an interesting edition of Kids Table – Lord of the Flies editions.”
Of course, the humor draws heavily on the assumption that these children will not to be taken seriously. But people have a tendency to take jokes about genocide, especially those broadcast on national TV, pretty seriously, whether kids are making them or not.
Chinese viewers who saw the segment were outraged, and clips quickly went viral both in the United States and in China. Angry viewers even took to the street to protest the show in San Francisco and Hollywood. The outcry has already force ABC to issue an apology and vow to scrub the comments from online videos and future re-airings of the broadcast. Kimmel himself apologized on air Monday night, as well as in front of a crowd of protesters on Oct. 30.
“I thought it was obvious that I didn’t agree with that statement, but apparently it wasn’t,” the host said. “So I just want to say I am sorry. I apologize. It was certainly not my intent to upset anyone.”
But apparently that’s not enough. Now the White House has promised to issue a statement online regarding the controversy, after 101,231 pepole signed a petition on the administration’s We The People website. It is the White House’s policy to respond to any petition receiving more than 100,000. It’s not clear what the petitioners expect from the White House given that their demands already seemed to have been voluntarily met by the network. Here is the full text of the petition:
“I was very disturbed by Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Kids Table’ show. It was aired on ABC recently and talked about killing all the Chinese so that the states do not need to pay back their debts to China. The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred. The program is totally unacceptable and it must be cut. A sincere apology must be issued. It is extremely distasteful and this is the same rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people. Please immediately cut the show and issue a formal apology.”
This isn’t the first time Chinese have used the We The People petition site to force the White House to weigh in on a controversial issue. Earlier this year, netizens stormed the petition site, demanding the White House look into the whereabouts of a suspected in one of China’s most high-profile cold cases. Many believed the well-connected woman had fled to the United States after allegedly poisoning her college roommate.
H/T: Splitsider : Photo via Jimmy Kimmel Live/South China Morning Post
Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.