James Corden sits at a table with various exotic foods.

James Corden Says He’ll Change “Spill Your Guts” Segment After Petition Calls Out Anti-Asian Racism but Is It Enough?

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James Corden says that he’ll make some changes to his Late Late Show segment “Spill Your Guts,” which forces guests to choose between answering questions or eating what he has called “disgusting” foods. But as artist Kim Saira pointed out in a TikTok video earlier this month, a lot of those foods are regularly eaten in different Asian cultures. Saira also launched a Change.org petition asking Corden to remove those sorts of foods from the segment, which currently has more than 40,000 signatures.

@kimssairaok but this is actual Asian food & youre going on live tv telling people how gross it is. thats cringe♬ original sound – Kim Saira

In that clip, Corden presents guest Jimmy Kimmel with foods including bull penis, 1,000-year-old egg, pig blood curd, and balut, with Corden laughing that he doesn’t even know what it is. (It’s a Filipino delicacy of a fertilized bird egg.) “Wow, it all looks so terrible,” Kimmel says, adding that it smells awful. “It’s really disgusting, it’s horrific,” Corden adds.

In an article for Sparks Magazine from a few years ago, An Vuong explains how painful, insulting, and incredibly common this kind of mockery is for many Asian Americans growing up in the U.S.:

The “lunchbox moment” is a defining moment for most Asian American children. This is the moment when reality comes crashing down around their tiny little ears and they start to question what “normal” actually is. It’s nothing short of a public shaming session in which the entire class takes turns telling them how gross the food in their lunchbox is.

Corden essentially just took that cafeteria experience and put it on television—and during a time when anti-Asian hate crimes are spiking.

Saira writes in her petition:

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.

The media holds so much influence: according to Wikipedia, the Late Late show averages over 650,000 viewers per episode. That means, 650,000 people are being influenced to think that native foods from Asian countries are “disgusting,” or “horrifying.” Content like this continually perpetuates and encourages harm and racism against Asian Americans in our daily lives.

Corden addressed these complaints during a recent interview with Howard Stern. “We heard that story, and the next time we do that bit we absolutely won’t involve or use any of those foods,” Corden said. “As you said at the start, our show is a show about joy and light and love, we don’t want to make a show to upset anybody.”

To his credit, Corden wouldn’t engage with Stern’s questions about whether people have gotten too sensitive.

“It’s not for us to determine whether somebody’s upset or hurt about something,” he said, per the LA Times. “That’s not for us to decide. All we can do is go, all right, we get it, we hear you, we won’t do that.”

But others, including Saira, want more from Corden, starting with an apology made on his show. This interview with Stern aired in mid-June but it’s just now getting attention, likely because the clip doesn’t appear to have been released on Stern’s public channels. Even Saira hadn’t heard about it until weeks later.

“The Late Late Show did not reach out to me about this statement, I actually found out from another news source I was interviewing with,” she told TODAY. “After listening to what he said, to be completely honest with you, I’m really disappointed in this statement, which in my opinion, isn’t an apology. In my petition, I have specifically asked for James Corden to publicly apologize on his show, and the reason why I was really specific about that was because I think that it is imperative for his hundreds of thousands of viewers to understand the harm that mocking these foods, rooted in Asian cultures, has on Asian people who still eat them. Besides that, I still think he should be donating to Asian organizations as well. I’m still looking forward to whether he will address this publicly and apologize.”

And before anyone starts wailing about “cancel culture,” Saira has thoughtfully addressed that in other TikToks, noting the differences between “canceling” and accountability. She’s made it clear that she likes Corden, she thinks he’s funny, and she also respects how he’s used his platform to call out other social issues, including bullying and body shaming. None of this is about tearing Corden down, it’s about asking him to do better because she believes he can.

@kimssairathe petition has gotten major traction (sign in my bio) but theres a diff between cancel & accountability culture. lets hold him accountable ##fyp♬ original sound – Kim Saira

(via Deadline, image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.