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James Corden draws flak for show segment that mocks Asian food—from balut to chicken feet

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Jun 15, 2021 6:05 pm

A petition calls for The Late Late Show host James Corden to remove the “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts”  segment on his show for being “culturally offensive and insensitive.”

Corden’s show has churned out viral recurring segments like the beloved “Carpool Karaoke” and “Crosswalk the Musical.” 

The segment in question, called “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” is one of the show’s oft viral segments where Corden and a guest get in a roundtable Q&A. Some of the highest-viewed videos of this segment include guests Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian and chef Gordon Ramsay that racked up from 57 million to 60 million views.

In the segment, personal questions—from controversial to self-deprecating—are thrown at both Corden and the guest and they have an option to either answer the questions or eat food painted “gross” or “disgusting” by western standards.

Balut, chicken feet, century egg (called by the show as “1,000-year-old egg”), pig blood curd and jellyfish are just some of the food items that the show has featured in the segment.

Balut and other Asian delicacies have had a bad rep since reality shows like Fear Factor and Survivor  showcased them for either a gnarly challenge or a hard-to-swallow punishment.

@kimssaira

ok but this is actual Asian food & youre going on live tv telling people how gross it is. thats cringe

♬ original sound - Kim Saira

Recently, activist and digital creator Kim Saira, who is of Filipino and Chinese descent, called out the show’s segment through a now viral TikTok video, saying calling Asian food disgusting on live TV is “literally racist” and “so disrespectful.”

Speaking to Today, Saira said she thought James Corden was funny and has good content in his show. But that feeling shifted when she watched an old video clip of the “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” segment.

“I noticed that one of the foods that he presented to someone was balut. And balut is very specific to Filipino culture,” she said. “It’s a food that I’ve been eating whenever I go to the Philippines with my grandma and my cousins, so it’s a very sentimental food to me, and I noticed that he was presenting it to a guest and calling it gross.”

Among the food featured in  The Late Late Show's 'Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts' are Asian delicacies like balut, chicken feet, jellyfish and century egg (which the show calls “1,000-year-old egg”). Screenshot from The Late Late Show

The video Saira was referring to was aired in September 2016, where another late show host Jimmy Kimmel was a guest. “Balut, I really don’t know what that is,” Corden quipped. While Kimmel said, “Wow, they all look so terrible.” The segment of the show has over 27 million views.

As her TikTok video went viral, which has over 2.5 million views as of this writing, Saira told Today that she received direct messages from people who wanted to do something about it. 

She then created a change.org petition that calls for The Late Late Show to completely change the food presented in the segment or remove it entirely, a “formal apology” statement from Corden, and for the show to make a donation to local Asian-American organizations that help Asian-American restaurants and small businesses. 

Saira also noted Corden openly called the food featured in the segment as “really disgusting” and “horrific,” which in the time when Asian hate crimes are on the rise is not only “incredibly culturally offensive and insensitive but it also encourages anti-Asian racism.”

“So many Asian Americans are consistently bullied and mocked for their native foods, and this segment amplifies and encourages it,” the petition said. 

“We are holding James Corden and The Late Late Show accountable for their actions, and perpetual harm this segment causes to Asian American communities,” the petition states. “At the very least, Asian American communities deserve an apology and this segment be taken off the air.”

The petition started on June 8, and has over 29,000 signatures as of this writing.

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A post shared by Kim Saira (@kimsaira)

In her latest post on TikTok, Saira urges people not to “cancel” James Corden but instead “make him accountable.” With this, Saira acknowledges that Corden has spoken up for “oppressed communities,” and if he could do that, “he is capable of making things right with the Spill Your Guts segment.”

In an Instagram post, Saira said that although multiple media outlets have reached out to Corden’s team and show, there has been no response. 

“Asian foods are more than just bubble tea+dumplings,” Saira wrote in her post. “You can’t just pick and choose which foods to be accepted in American mainstream culture. Our foods are deeply ingrained in our cultures and history. Do better @j_corden, @cbstv, @latelateshow.”

Banner and thumbnail screenshots from The Late Late Show and photo from AFP