Amnon Free Press
In an episode that aired in 2007, “A Benihana Christmas,” Kat Ahn plays the role of one of two Asian Benihana waitresses who are taken back to the office by Michael Scott, played by actor Steve Carell. During the episode, Carell’s character cannot tell the two women apart, telling other male charters on the show, “You know how all waitresses look alike.” He also puts a black mark on one of the women’s arms to differentiate between the two.
In a video posted to social media, Ahn called the jokes “problematic.”
“What I realized is that you can’t expect people to create roles for you if they don’t know your experience, and that’s why it’s important for you to create your own content and have your own voice,” Ahn continued, adding, “Asian American creators have a long way to go, especially in Hollywood. But with the success of Minari, Crazy Rich Asians and Parasite, I’m excited for the future for us to create roles that show us as three-dimensional human beings that aren’t all psychos or stereotypes.”
Speaking to The Washington Post last week, the actress said she felt that she was “just there to be the joke” when she was cast in the role.
In 2018, Carell acknowledged to Esquire that “The Office” would not be made in these politically correct times.
It “might be impossible to do that show today and have people accept it the way it was accepted 10 years ago. The climate’s different,” the actor said, adding, “I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. … A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That’s the point, you know? But I just don’t know how that would fly now. There’s a very high awareness of offensive things today—which is good, for sure. But at the same time, when you take a character like that too literally, it doesn’t really work.”
“The Office” is currently available on NBC streaming platform Peacock. It’s unclear if any episodes or scenes from the hit show will be removed, as has happened to numerous allegedly offensive media in recent years.
Days ago, it was announced that two episodes of cartoon “Spongebob Squarepants” have been pulled from Nickelodeon “due to sensitivities surrounding the global, real-world pandemic.” This week, Scholastic pulled a “Captain Underpants” spinoff over concerns about Asian stereotypes. And last month, the estate of Dr. Seuss stopped publishing six books over apparent racial insensitivities.
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