If you’re not already familiar with Jesse Watters, he’s a part of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News and hosts a segment on the show called Watters World. While The O'Reilly Factor presents this segment as an informative look at diversity within the United States, it happens to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about people of color, women, and PC culture, by manipulating interviews to make individuals appear unintelligent and misinformed about world issues. Watters is basically the 40-year-old equivalent of the guy who never leaves his fraternity, someone who sports popped collars and voices “political humor”with outdated movie references and cliches. This past week, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah shed light on Jesse Watters and his comedic style, inviting correspondent Ronny Chieng to discuss why Watters' world is problematic and potentially dangerous.
Watters had done countless tasteless interviews, from invading poverty stricken neighborhoods in Chicago and Philadelphia, to probing bikini-clad women with questions on the beach. These make us cringe collectively over the uncensored misogyny and racial bias that goes into creating these interviews.
If you believe Watters, you can say racist shit but still not face any consequences, as long as you call yourself a comedian — or as Watters would say, a 'political satirist'. But let’s not forget about this thing called context. Instead of performing standup, Watters is a correspondent on a news station, an institution established to disperse truthful and accurate information. And while I suggest that you check out some of these videos for yourself, for the time being, let’s put aside Watters' past indiscretions and focus on his impression of New York Chinatown.
Chieng begins by addressing O’Reilly’s decision to send Watters' to Chinatown (which if you do not know, is NOT in China). This brings to attention the issue of generalization, which is something that many minority individuals experience. It suggests that you can get an informed understand of China and Chinese people by going to Chinatown in New York. It’s similar, as Chieng points out, “to sending someone to Taco Bell to understand Mexican culture”.
Chieng then discusses the montage of clips that Fox News had compiled, which supposedly act as a realistic and truthful portrayal of Chinese culture. In Watters’ segment, he takes a tour of “authentic Chinese culture”—mentioning Karate, the Chinese Zodiac, and supplying clips from 1984’s Karate Kid. Chieng explains how ridiculous Watters looks and that he is blatantly coming to racist conclusions for the entertainment of a predominately white audience. Chieng then goes on to explain that the real issue of this segment is the fact that Watters is portraying the individuals of the interview to be unintelligent—when in actuality they cannot understand the questions being posed to them.
That is why Chieng took it upon himself to point out the racial bias within Watters’ segment by going to Chinatown and interviewing people within the community in their native tongue. When Chieng goes to Chinatown and interviews people on the street in Chinese, it is clear to see the difference between these two broadcasts. If someone is only watching the Fox News report, they may develop an understanding that all Chinese people are “ignorant” or “ill-informed” about politics. However, when you are not invading a culture with racist Western ideology, it’s clear to see that unsurprisingly, Chinese individuals have a lot to say about this coming election.
There’s a lot of talk about how the liberal media “spins” stories to put conservative individuals in a bad light, yet when you look at what people like Bill O’Reilly and Jesse Watters are presenting as “news”, it's obvious that they’re basically setting up people like Ronny Chieng to take a stand against institutionalized racism and cultural intolerance. If conservatives want to be taken seriously and not be “attacked” by the liberal media, maybe they should put more consideration into who they choose to be their spokespeople.
Photos Courtesy of Comedy Central and Fox News
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