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A Response to Watters’ World: Chinatown Edition

On October 3rd, 2016, Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor premiered a new edition of “Watters’ World”. This time, host Jesse Watters made his way to New York City’s Chinatown to conduct interviews with Asian Americans about varying topics, but mainly about China’s mentioning in the first Presidential Debate. Chaos ensued as this video sparked offense everywhere and once again brought up the issues of racism, prejudice, and stereotyping against Asian Americans. Now, Jesse Watters has come under criticism before in the past for his ‘in your face’ style interviews and controversial topics, but this was a whole new low. It is 2016 and I cannot actually believe how ignorant some people (ahem, Jesse Waters) can be as to back Asian Americans in a corner and make fun of them and their culture.

As an Asian American myself, I was very offended and angered at the material in this video. I am ashamed at Fox News for letting this air on national television in the first place. You would think that someone during the filming and editing process would speak up about the vile content of this video. Ridiculous, rude, racist, disrespectful, humiliating, and patronizing would be a few strong words to describe it. At first, I could not even bring myself to watch it. Reading the summaries and criticisms about it already put me off. I finally made myself watch it in order to aid myself in writing this article. It was even worse than I imagined and very cringe worthy. Jesse Watters’ behavior was absolutely disgusting. The segment made fun of Asian Americans’ English accents and their apparent limited knowledge on American politics. My parents have accents when they speak English, so I imagined how I would feel if someone recorded them speaking and emphasized the fact that they could not speak English perfectly with ill-placed response clips and subtitles. I would be pissed! Also, not everyone has time to keep up with politics! It’s not just the people he exploited in the video. Many Americans still remain uneducated about this nation’s most dramatic Presidential race yet. Even if people may know the candidates, it is highly unlikely they know 100% everything about each of the platforms and issues.

Among all the cringe worthy things Watters said and did in the video, the most offensive act, in my opinion, was him interviewing and mocking elderly people who could not speak English. Besides that, inserting a brief response clip afterwards of a woman yelling “Speak, speak! Why don’t you speak?!” is just plain rude, mean, and unnecessary. The reason they were silent and confused is because they had no way to respond back, no way to defend themselves. They were helpless. Elders are highly respected in Asian culture, and I felt disappointed that they were treated this way.

Also, way to stereotype Chinese people with selling fakes on the street, karate (it’s actually Japanese FYI), bowing, and service work (cue the gross and uncomfortable foot rub scene).

This video brought back all the memories of some of my struggles growing up as an Asian American in a predominantly white community. English is my second language and I learned it at the start of elementary school. My parents told me that the teachers would get very frustrated with me because I could not understand them and did not follow directions. It was not my fault that I did not know the language. Eventually, I learned to speak English fluently and became angry at how I was once treated because I could not understand. I could list more occasions where I had to deal with the difference of being an Asian American, but I’ll just stop here for now.

To Jesse Watters, The O’Reilly Factor, and to Fox News, you need to issue an actual apology (not some lame tweet) for your actions and learn how to be respectful of others and their culture. America is mainly consisted of immigrants and it is not right to make fun of races and culture groups who are different from you. Your material is racist and rude and should not be tolerated. It still blows my mind that this was allowed to be carried through to the end.

On an ending note, please watch this epic response from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I could not agree more with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX8jZTN0CdU (or click the image below).


Annie Huynh is a junior Marketing student at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She was born and raised in North Mankato, MN. Her favorite seasons are summer and fall. On her days off, she likes to catch up on her favorite series on Netflix or take a trip to the mall.
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