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‘Are you yellow?’ Red Symons interview with Beverley Wang prompts ABC apology | The Guardian


Symons: “Do they speak Mandarin or Cantonese?

Wang: “Who’s ‘they’?”

Symons: “The people in Taiwan.”

Wang: “They speak Taiwanese and they speak Mandarin. And in Canada, where I’m from, they speak English and French.”

Symons: “I knew that. You’re probably from the west coast of Canada.”

Wang: “Why do you think that, Red?”

Symons: “Because it’s closer to Asia.”

Source: ‘Are you yellow?’ Red Symons interview with Beverley Wang prompts ABC apology | Media | The Guardian

Okay- so that just happened. In 2017. In the developed world.

What in the…? My first reaction after reading it was that it must have been some sort of misinterpretation. After all, I say terrible things (often). For example I have a friend in Spain who’s half Middle Eastern and I sometimes introduced him to people as half terrorist. He’d answer that I was a complete idiot or a total homosexual, and everyone would laugh and it was all in good fun. I listened to the recording, and that wasn’t the case in the interaction above- awkward from start to finish. Appalling.


18 comments on “‘Are you yellow?’ Red Symons interview with Beverley Wang prompts ABC apology | The Guardian

  1. Mordanicus
    June 16, 2017

    As far as I have understood: the original Taiwanese speak, very surprisingly, Taiwanese but those who fled the mainland in 1949 speak Mandarin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. makagutu
    June 16, 2017

    Half terrorist has a nice ring to it. Does that say something about me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Max
    June 16, 2017

    I have a terrible jargon with my partner, but I can have that because I know him. I know what’s really hurtful, and if need be I can press those buttons and squeeze those dials. But in normal conversation I can say that he’s a rather soggy unenthusiastic bottom (or something similarly awful) and know that he will take it in stride. But one has to negotiate the boundaries beforehand, one can’t just blurt things out before those red lines are known, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory
    June 17, 2017

    Red Symons is quite bright, but his media personna began as one of the members of a very well-known Aussie rock band. Part of that was the shock-model. Norman Gunston built a comedy personna on the exact same model. Plus…we have a rather strange sense of humour which is rarely understood by outsiders, especially North Americans. So, I doubt that Red was actually being either racist or rude. Sadly, whatever he was attempting fell flat as a pancake.

    -shrug- Anyway, I doubt many Australians would have been bothered. And before anyone accuses us of all being racist, we’re not. There is a segment of the population whose formative years were formed by the White Australia policy, but most people under 50 are pretty accepting of others. How we express it though…that’s something else again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I *love* Australian humour. Josh Thomas, Tim Minchin, the entire Kath & Kim cast- and I love edgy, brutal comedy. I just didn’t get what this guy was aiming for.


      • acflory
        June 17, 2017

        I haven’t seen the interview, but Red isn’t the most socially adept person around so I imagine that he tried for something Gunston-esque and missed. Norman Gunston made cringe-worthy comedy funny…a bit like John Cleese in Faulty Towers. I should say that I’m not a fan of that particular flavour of humour. 😦


  5. appletonavenue
    June 18, 2017

    Unfortunately the podcast has been removed and I did not get to hear the whole thing. Maybe it is an “Australian” thing and doesn’t translate well as others have mentioned. I could see where Symons might have been going for funny and failing, but I would think he would be adept enough to read Beverly Wang better to see his humor was falling flat. I think if not for his sneering tone it might have been funny. Especially if Wang understood that Symons was being facetious. I give comedians wide berth when it comes to material, but I had to cringe reading the quotes.


  6. Henry
    June 19, 2017

    Someone’s uploaded the full interview on YouTube; it was a promotion of Beverley Wang’s new podcast, ‘It’s Not A Race’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s76GRaG9oVE

    I quite liked it! It’s self-consciously joking back and forth, pushing the boundaries of something people don’t tend to talk about. I didn’t get the impression that Beverley Wang was offended, although the conversation certainly was unusual. But, like, people really are pink, not white or yellow! I mean, I talk like that! We learned that Red Symons’ full name is Redmond! I suppose I’ll drop here that my heritage is entirely Chinese, though I was born in Australia – as if that lends some value to my reaction.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2017 by in activism and tagged , , , , , .
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