When Rosie O'Donnell was describing on a recent installment of The View how Danny DeVito's adorably soused appearance on the show had made international news, she shared her rather ill-chosen impression of a Chinese newscaster who spoke almost entirely in "chings" and "chongs." (Our Gotham sibling site Gawker posted the clip, punctuated by a gong sound effect that is being hilariously misreported as being added by The View producers themselves.) The bit has not surprisingly escalated into a full-fledged controversy: The Asian American Journalists Association released an official statement, condemning what they perceive as "a mockery of the Chinese language and, in effect, a perpetration of stereotypes of Asian Americans as foreigners or second-class citizens."
A Rosie spokesperson brushed off the critique in Page Six, saying, "She's a comedian in addition to being a talk show co-host. I certainly hope that one day they will be able to grasp her humor." Rosie herself responded yesterday to several e-mails in the "ask ro" section of her blog:
Reader: It'd be funny if u knew how 2 speak it, it sounds racist and ignorant, which u r not.
Rosie: i am irish
i do an irish accent - make drunk jokes - stgerotypes [sic]
this is comedy
Hey Roside, why aren't you getting your head out your butt and be more sensitive to Asian-Americans. You suck and need to get off tv.
go fuck urself jp
why did you think it was alright to mock Chinese people and the language on The View
it was not my intent to mock
just to say how odd it is
that danny drunk
was news all over the world
even in china
it was not meant to mock
Living, as we do, in this era of Celebrity Outburst Apologymania, it's refreshing to see a public figure stand resolutely behind their inherent rights as an artist to perform puerile and racially insensitive improvised comedy bits at ear-shattering decibles, even if the unfortunate result means a few Asian Americans getting their dragon-embroidered silk robes in a knot.