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Jimmy Kimmel has yet to apologize for his questionable past

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The episode opens on a busy street, with a young boy selling beer for twenty-five cents. The camera crew catches him marketing his beer to random pedestrians, some who ignore him and some who question him for his illegal behavior. He yells to one woman waiting for the street light to change, “This one’s on me, maybe later I can get on you.”

The woman shakes her head in disgust and ignores him. The live audience in the background of the show laughs. He says to another random woman who rejected his proposed beer, “Your mouth says no, but your fat gut says yes.”

Again, the audience is in stitches. To two ladies worried about the legality of an eleven-year-old selling beer, he says,Okay, listen Hitler, there’s no Germany here, so move along.” When addressing a man who looks Latino, he says, “What’s up, Julio, want a cerveza?”

This scene from the 1999 show The Man Show seems racist, sexist and insulting. Surprisingly, it is the work of the successful and well known comedian, Jimmy Kimmel, host of his comedy talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Rarely silent about social issues, Kimmel is known for delivering passionate and powerful opinions.

For instance, while hosting the Oscars this year, Kimmel made a more serious speech about the brave women who have come forward with their sexual harassment stories as part of the #MeToo movement. However, his past work in television was not nearly as conscientious. The Man Show is disappointing, immature and not on par with the intelligence one would expect from this popular comedian.

Created by Jimmy Kimmel with Adam Carolla and Daniel Kellison in 1999, The Man Show was geared towards a male audience and was written to challenge political correctness through humor. However, there is a fine line between making offbeat jokes and making bigoted comments. While The Man Show may have been acceptable two decades ago, in today’s world, it warrants an apology from Kimmel.

Specifically, the show suggests that men have the power to publicly comment on women’s appearances. In one segment, the camera crew went out in public and asked the previously mentioned 11-year-old “Man Show boy” to rate random women based on their appearances. Many of the women approached are emotionless as they are fat shamed or mocked for being old. One of the women was given a high score and then told that she received her ranking because the boy “liked Asian broads.” Another woman received a seven out of ten because she had a lot of “junk in the trunk.”

“I experience [catcalling] whenever I have to run to [crew] practice,”  sophomore Jianna Ursitti said. “Almost every single day, someone says something out of their car or makes some sort of gesture that makes me uncomfortable.”

Similarly while talking about Oprah Winfrey, Kimmel made some awfully sexist comments about arguably the most influential public figure in the last three decades. After his colleague, Adam Carolla, mentioned how much control Oprah has over her female viewers, Kimmel said, “We’re the ones that are supposed to be telling [women] what to do, right?” to which Carolla responded that Oprah should be doing, “less brainwashing and more sock-washing.”

Gender is not the only controversial concept Kimmel and Carolla exploited. On multiple occasions, Kimmel both used excessive slang and also painted himself so his skin was darker in order to portray an African-American NBA player, thus perpetuating offensive stereotypes. This indicates that the show was not designed for all men, but selectively for white men.

Kimmel has yet to apologize for these inappropriate jokes.

“Yes, of course [I cringe when I look back on The Man Show]—  and not necessarily for the reasons you think,” Kimmel said in an interview with The Vulture. “I just think, oh, we could’ve done that better. It was a show people loved, and I got to work with Adam [Carolla], which was a dream at the time, and we did a lot of funny stuff. We also did a lot of stupid stuff.”

When he says, “We did a lot of stupid stuff,” Kimmel trivializes the actual implications of issues such as racism and sexism, and in turn, alienates groups of people on national television.

It is true that The Man Show is outdated and that Kimmel and Carolla probably did not mean anything by their comments. However, their comments are serious and should be addressed. In order for Kimmel to continue to be an advocate for social issues in the future, he needs to first apologize for his own problematic past.

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