Shane Gillis Controversy: Asian American Leaders Demand Netflix, Bud Light Cut Ties With Comic (2024)

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Asian American leaders met in Los Angeles to demand Netflix and Bud Light cut business ties with Shane Gillis unless the comic apologizes for past racist remarks.

Gillis' comments on his podcast, surfaced in 2019, led to public outcry and to him being dropped from the cast of Saturday Night Live.

But in the years since, Gillis' star has only risen, with Netflix announcing an "expanding partnership" with him that includes stand-up specials and a comedy series and Bud Light's decision to sponsor his comedy tour.

This past February, Gillis was invited back to the Saturday Night Live studio as a host.

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Shane Gillis Controversy: Asian American Leaders Demand Netflix, Bud Light Cut Ties With Comic (1)

Shane Gillis attending a New York comedy festival in 2023.

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"If you duck a few years, slowly build your career back up and continue on as if nothing had happened, you can come back even stronger than ever," said Guy Aoki, founding president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

Neither Gillis nor the companies have provided comment.

Gillis had issued an issued a statement after his comments drew uproar, saying "I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said."

Aoki, who in the past has taken Sarah Silverman and Jay Leno to task for racist jokes about Asians, said he was waiting for an "honest and sincere" apology from Gillis.

Aoki was joined Thursday by local leaders from longtime advocacy organizations, including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.

Democratic Congressmember Judy Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, issued a statement that was read at the press conference.

"I hope that after these years of hate and discrimination against our communities, Mr. Gillis has taken the time to reflect upon his past words and actions and will finally apologize to the Asian American community," Chu said.

On a 2018 episode of his podcast, Gillis used anti-Asian slurs and expletives to make fun of Chinese people living in Chinatown.

In the same episode, Gillis made hom*ophobic comments about director Judd Apatow and fellow comic Chris Gethard, who are known for a more sensitive brand of comedy.

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Aoki pointed out that Gillis has only apologized to Gethard.

"He will apologize for a gay slur against a straight man, but not against those slurs against Asian Americans," Aoki said, noting Gillis used the same anti-Asian slur on a different podcast to describe former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. "We don't appreciate the double standard."

The Asian American leaders held their event about Gillis at the Chinese American Citizens Alliance lodge in Chinatown.

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Henry Lo, the vice president of the L.A. chapter of the alliance, said it was not lost on the group that this month marks the 41st anniversary of Vincent Chin's killing. Chin was beaten to death in Detroit by two autoworkers, with one of the attackers saying it was “because of you” that people were out of work.

"Words and actions have consequences," said Lo, who's also a Monterey Park council member. "When we do not call out slurs and language that perpetuate Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners, then it runs the danger of inflaming fear, hatred, and in some cases, violence directed at Asian Americans."

Cindy Wu of the Anti-Asian Hate Coalition of Southern California, was among the speakers who worried that Asian American children would feel the brunt of racist language from peers who take the lead of adults.

"When [children] hear racial slurs, or do derogatory remarks in the name of comedy, it can only normalize hatred and prejudice," said Wu, who said she's received a couple reports this year of Asian American children in L.A. County being called anti-Asian slurs and beaten.

Gillis' new Netflix comedy series Tires has been one of the streamer's top 10 shows since it debuted in late May, and was renewed for a second season even before its premiere. A new stand-up special will come out in 2025.

Have a question about Southern California's Asian American communities?

Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of those growing communities in Southern California.

Shane Gillis Controversy: Asian American Leaders Demand Netflix, Bud Light Cut Ties With Comic (2024)
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