Asian Group Denounces Book and Radio Show as Insensitive

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Asian media advocacy group Friday denounced a local morning radio program and a newly published book, demanding apologies for what it called insensitive and racist portrayals of Asian Americans in the O.J. Simpson murder case.

The Media Action Network for Asian Americans blasted "John London's House Party" on KKBT-FM (92.3), saying that the show twice aired a skit about criminalist Dennis Fung having dreams about his testimony in the Simpson trial. Group leaders said that Fung "spoke with a thick, foreign accent and performed kung fu" kicks in the sketch, which aired April 14 and April 19.

The group also attacked a new humor book called "O.J.'s Legal Pad," which purports to contain the legal pad scrawlings of Simpson. It said the book is filled with "outrageously offensive caricatures" of Judge Lance A. Ito, including drawings of him as "Emperor Hiro-Ito."

"We are saying we are not going to take this any longer," said Media Action Network spokesman Daniel Mayeda at a news conference in front of the Criminal Courts Building. "We are not saying that Asians cannot be made fun of. We have no problem with the Dancing Itos on 'The Tonight Show' or with Mike Myers' sketches on 'Saturday Night Live.' But humor should not be based on ethnicity. We are not going to tolerate things like this any longer."

Mayeda said the group is demanding written and on-air apologies from KKBT's London; if no apologies are made, the group will ask advertisers to reconsider dealing with the station. He added that the group also is demanding an apology from Villard Books, a branch of Random House, which published "O.J.'s Legal Pad," and asked sellers to pull the book from their shelves.

KKBT general manager Craig Wilbraham said in response to the protest: "The truth of the matter is, our morning show is satirical. None of the humor is malicious, and the jokes are done with such exaggeration that no one would characterize it as racist or hate-motivated. Our audience seems to understand, but this group missed the whole scope of the show."

Adam Rothberg, director of publicity for Villard Books, said: "The book very clearly states that this is a spoof, the whole spoof and nothing but a spoof. It is satire that is not meant to be taken seriously."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
62°