Jay Leno has come under fire various times over the years regarding frequent jokes he made about Asians. Guy Akoi, the president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans previously issued a public letter to Leno about these jokes. It’s a matter for which he’s received criticism as recently as last year. And after last week’s tragedy, Leno finally issued a statement.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with Aoki. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”
He continues: “At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
“I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
A meeting reportedly took place recently over Zoom between Leno and Aoki. This was after Aoki called for Leno to be fired as host of the upcoming You Bet Your Life reboot, or else Aoki and MANAA would go to the advertisers in protest.