Sometimes there are things that are just so out of this world racist that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or roll around on your carpet in spasms, or reach for your secret stash of vodka and pass out after one sip because — hey! You can’t process alcohol. You’re Asian.
And today’s prize goes to yours truly, Russia’s biggest TV station, the state-run Channel One.
To, er, get in the mood for the festive season, the producers of the show “Zhyt Zdorovo!” (a play on words meaning “Live healthy” and “Life is good”) decided it would be both entertaining and educational, and not at all racist, to tell the public that under no circumstances are they to drink with the “Mongoloid race” — you know, people with “narrow eyes” like the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese — because they can’t process alcohol.
Not only that, the host, Yelena Malysheva, shows the audience what she means by “narrow eyes” by PULLING HER EYES BACK WITH HER FINGERS.
That’s right guys. The episode, aired Monday and themed around the Novy God festivities, managed to cover all the racist things you could do or say about Asians within a 10-minute segment. (Novy God, or New Year’s, is more important than Christmas on the Russian calendar, but shares a lot of traditions, including the tree, a Santa-like figure, and the decorations.) It’s all just too classy to be true. Someone pass me my champagne.
Okay, some scientific papers do use the term Mongoloid. And it’s possible that in Russian it might not seem as insulting. But even so, its derogatory meaning is so widely recognized that producers at the country’s biggest TV station should know better. Right? Right???
Malysheva begins by posing the question: Who should you not drink with? Then she invites their first guest, an Uzbek man, onto the stage and enlightens him and the audience with her theory. (But not before she asks him whether he is Tatar. Maybe she didn’t get the memo that he was scheduled to be on her show.)
Malysheva: “There are people, I would even say nationalities, but more specifically, races — races, large nationalities…” She drifts into another train of thought: “For example we are the white race: Slavic people. Then there are black people, and then there are others.”
She decides to stop explaining and comes back to her point. “So, races. Which ones should you not drink with during New Year’s? There is no discrimination in this. There is an understanding among physiologists that different races are different.”
The man pauses and looks slightly taken aback: “Well, I grew up in the Soviet Union … It doesn’t make a difference to me. I can drink with black people, with everyone.” The audience applauds his comment.
Malysheva concedes that that’s the right way to think: “When we say who you should not drink with during New Year’s, we don’t mean it as an slight. We mean it’s dangerous for their health.”
She turns to one Dmitry Shubin, who we’re told is a neurologist. “Tell us Dmitri Nikolayevich, who should you not drink with during New Year’s?”
Shubin let’s us know: “In the interest of safety, under no circumstance should you drink with anyone who belongs to the Mongoloid race.”
Malysheva gets excited: “Do you know who they are? Let’s list them.” She and Shubin count them off: “Chinese, Koreans, Japanese.” Malysheva pauses: “Uhhhh. And our …” Shubin helps her out. “People who live in our far north.”
Malysheva is pleased: “Exactly.” Then the show cuts to music and random photos of Asians while Malysheva stretches her eyes back with her fingers to show what “narrow eyes” look like. “Their characteristics: narrow eyes and a crescent-shaped face…”
Shubin then explains how “Mongoloids” lack the enzyme required to process alcohol. And if you weren’t cringing already, they do an experiment. Enter the giant pink dishes shaped like liver.
In case you didn’t get it yet, Malysheva sums it up. Cue the festive music: “For Mongoloids — people with narrow eyes and crescent-shaped faces — alcohol is toxic.”
The idea that Asians can’t process alcohol as well is nothing new. My Asian friends and I laugh about our Asian glow. Actually, some German friends started talking about this with me over a couple of glasses of wine last night, before quickly apologizing for bringing it up and turning as red in the face as me. (I’d had two glasses by then.)
So, merry Christmas, Asians. Don’t drink too much alcohol at that company Christmas party now.
Youtube user Zhanna Idymova uploaded the video Monday. For those who understand Russian, start watching from 3:10: