Asian Americans are killing it at the Olympic Games so far, which would be a great story for one Chicago-area news station to cover—if it could just remember where the hell the Olympics were happening.
Hint: It’s not gotdamn P.F. Chang’s.
Now, before you hit me with Anne, no one is seriously mixing up P.F. Chang’s with Pyeongchang, come the hell on, I just want you to know that this is America, a land where all mildly to wildly racist mixups are possible. Yes. We. Can.
Anyway, back to this tomfoolery.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, WLS-TV in Chicago accidentally broadcast a report about the Winter Olympics Saturday morning with the graphic, “P.F. Chang 2018.”
P.F. Chang’s, that “Asian-inspired” chain restaurant that is as “inspired” by Asian cuisine as McDonald’s is “inspired” by real food.
P.F. Chang’s, which is basically an Applebee’s menu doused in ginger and soy sauce, not to be confused with the mountainous county in the northern part of South Korea that is hosting the Winter Games this year.
Not that WLS-TV actually confused the two, though.
From the Tribune:
Jayme Nicholas, a spokesperson for the ABC affiliate in Chicago, told Inc. that the goof was the result of a mixup. The graphic was created for a different “satirical piece” put together on Friday by sports anchor Mark Giangreco in which viewers were encouraged to invent their own Olympic sports, but it was mistakenly also used for the serious news story read on Saturday by weekend anchor Mark Rivera, Nicholas said.
Oh, I get it. Because P.F. Chang’s is Asian, and Pyeongchang has a “chang” in it. Oh, man, what biting satire. A regular Jon motherfucking Stewart.
The gaffe inspired P.F. Chang’s—enjoying a nice, free promotion boost—to tweet out a confirmation that they weren’t hosting the games, and inspired BuzzFeed to do another dreadful Twitter reaction post featuring mainly white people.
If you’ve worked in broadcasting, you know how easy—but also how avoidable—these sorts of mistakes are. There’s also no reason to believe that a major news channel would invite this sort of embarrassment purposely.
But the sort of earnest joke this mixup started is as stale, tired and American as week-old fortune cookies (which no one in China actually eats)—reinforcing the notion that all things to do with Asian culture are replaceable, interchangeable and sound funny.
Maybe I’m taking it too seriously. Maybe this is just like calling the Qatar World Cup the Quiznos World Cup, a joke that would similarly allude to and be drawn from that uniquely American laziness about learning foreign names.
Maybe I’m just tired from years of lazy jokes about some generic Asian cultural stereotype (as generic as “Asian” chain-restaurant food) that I should somehow find funny—jokes about eating dogs or cats or egg rolls, jokes about binding feet, jokes about (or imitations of) my mother’s accent, and how somehow everything can refer back to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—no matter if you’re not Chinese.
All jokes that reinforce the same notion: It’s all the same to us.