The current woke hoo-hah is over comedian Shane Gillis‘s coarse use of “racist, sexist, homophobic remarks”, per a 9.12 Variety story by Will Thorne and Elaine Low. The furor started with a resurfacing of an anti-Asian remark from Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast. (I can’t find a link to the offensive podcast in question.) In the video, Gillis is heard saying “Chinatown’s fucking nuts…let the fucking chinks live there.”
“I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said,” Gillis said in a statement. “My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”
Update: The Gillis scandal has instantly vanished in the wake of a shocking revelation that director Martin Scorsese willfully and maliciously used the term “chinks” in a scene in Mean Streets (’73). In an early discussion between Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro‘s characters over a debt, De Niro complains to Keitel that “you’re leavin’ me with nothin’…we gotta go eat chinks?”
In the early ’70s the term “eat chinks” was a callous and insensitive urban phrase that meant “eating inexpensive Chinese food.”
Shocking as it may seem, Scorsese also had characters use the n-word in both Mean Streets and Taxi Driver (’76).
Gillis definitely used terms and phrases that any reasonable person would identify as hurtful and insensitive.
Should it matter one way or the other that Scorsese’s use of callous racial terminology happened over 40 years ago? A racist is a racist is a racist, no? How should Scorsese and for that matter De Niro be punished? Should they be forced to wear needle-sharp cactus sandals during promotional appearances for The Irishman?