By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Man, it’s been a rough time—for me because it was so hot and then it was so not, and I feel so robbed of an entire season—and also a little bit for Chrissy Teigen because people are mad at her—but most of all, it’s been the roughest for her many, many victims.
Before we get to the core of what I’m talking about, you have to run through a gauntlet of other celeb gossip. You’re welcome!
A ‘fan’ made a TikTok compilation of Billie Eilish mouthing the word chink years ago
Billie Eilish, a pop star who is old enough to be my daughter (she’s 19, guys), was the subject of a viral video that saw her mouthing the word chink when she was 13 or 14 and speaking gibberish in a way that almost sounded like a mockery of an Asian language.
Naturally, Eilish released a statement disavowing racism. She stated, “I mouthed a word from a song that at the time I didn’t know was a derogatory term used against members of the Asian community. I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word. Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”
Look, the apology is nice and all—but what I’m more struck by is how hard I had to dig before I figured out what the slur she mouthed was. A lot of the reporting on this was vague, stating that Eilish mouthed a “term derogatory to Asians.” I’m on deadline writing this column, so that was frustrating. I don’t think it’s necessary to treat the word chink like it’s Voldemort. We give it more power when we don’t say its name.
Is Megan Rapinoe racist?
Soccer superstar, and one of my favorite spokespeople ever, Megan Rapinoe has been accused of racism after a decade-old tweet that she sent to fellow U.S. Women’s Soccer teammate Natasha Kai. The tweet to Kai said, “u look Asian with those closed eyes.” Kai is mixed raced, of Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese descent, and more.
Naturally, a bunch of people on Twitter have accused Rapinoe of being racist, though from a cursory glance, it looks like most of the people calling for her cancellation are white dudes named Pete or Nathan or Jason who are also simultaneously screaming stuff like, “EQUAL PAY IS OVER!”
Look, I don’t know women’s soccer whatsoever, but if it’s like any other women’s professional sport, I can guess that it has hoards of ardent, reasonable, and feminist male fans.
Anyway, in response to this, Rapinoe has said nothing. Kai has said nothing. Rapinoe also has not deleted the tweet. So far, it’s like she doesn’t care at all. And I kind of like it. It’s kind of metal and badass.
I say this as a person who deleted my entire Twitter history—MY ENTIRE BODY OF WORK ON TWITTER—because I got nervous that I, a non-celebrity and non-public figure, would get found out writing something super edgy and kind of racist to my friend 10 years ago.
So in a way, I think I get it, Megan. In another way, I might just be a Rapinoe apologist?! And I don’t know how to feel about that, either! (Check out my entry on Chrissy Teigen further down, mmkay? My confidence for snark has been temporarily shattered!)
James Cordon finally stops acting like Asian food is disgusting
On “The Late Late Show,” host James Cordon has a recurring segment called “spill your guts,” in which a celebrity guest gets to pick between eating gross food or answering a probing question that they probably don’t want to answer. In the past, so much of the food in this segment came from Asian culture—foods like chicken feet, fish eyeballs, and balut—all foods that can be super delicious if you have an open heart, an open mind, and a non-racist palate.
In all seriousness, it’s always been annoying to me how white Americans like to recoil at different types of world cuisines—much of which clearly came from ingenuity, deep cultural history, community, and people getting creative to feed their families during hard times—before turning around to eat death-bombs likes burgers, fries, Pizza Hut, bacon on eggs, and bacon on donuts.
In response to the criticism and a change.org petition, Cordon surprisingly responded in a not-annoying way. He said his show will knock it off. “We heard that story, and the next time we do that bit, we absolutely won’t involve or use any of those foods,” Corden told Howard Stern. “Our show is a show about joy and light and love. We don’t want to make a show to upset anybody.”
I don’t really buy his genuineness, despite him generally doing the right thing. I doubt his genuineness because Chrissy Teigen has taught me that love is not real at all. It’s an illusion.
Sooo … I was wrong about Chrissy Teigen
For years, I have extolled the virtues of Chrissy Teigen in this column. I have been a bonafide fangirl of her social media personality, delighting in the fact that someone so conventionally beautiful could also be so funny and so entrepreneurial and so politically active.
Then we all learned that she is a bully—like a MEGA-SUPER-TOXIC bully that makes you fear for John Legend’s secret emotional life and well-being—a bully who used her platform to say beyond hurtful things to people (mostly women) publicly in tweets as well as privately in DMs. One of the most egregious incidences involved Courtney Stodden, who is non-binary and who was previously known for marrying then-51-year-old actor Doug Hutchison in 2011, when Stodden was only 16 years old. That year, Teigen was among the many who mocked and body-shamed a 16-year-old girl for basically being the victim of abuse, by tweeting, “I can’t wait for you to die,” and “go. To sleep. forever.”
In response to this scandal coming to light, Teigen tweeted, “Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bullshit in front of the entire world. I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll … I’m so sorry, Courtney …”
Stodden said they forgive Teigen, but they also wonder if the apology was just for appearances—to save the business and brand Teigen has cultivated over the years. On social media, Stodden did add, “I have never heard from her or her camp in private. In fact, she blocked me on Twitter.”
What this whole thing has taught me is obviously to never trust my judgement on people ever again. Also, the cult around celebrity is strong and that we, media consumers, are definitely spoonfed carefully curated images of celebrities. When someone is famous and well-known and attractive, we tend to assume they are also an infallible and ethical person.
I think it’s super necessary for all of us to develop more skepticism when it comes to celebrity and influencer culture. We need to stop listening to them about Scientology, vaccines causing autism, and maybe we also need to stop buying their cookbooks and cookware.
It’s a bit of a tender moment for me right now. For a bit of time, I will be nervously on the lookout for a scandal that completely changes the way I see Dwayne Johnson or Sandra Oh.
If you see news about either, please don’t show me—but also, definitely show me because it’s better to know than to keep our heads in the sand.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.