After a 15-year campaign by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, a.k.a. MANAA, Jay Leno has issued an apology for jokes he told at the expense of Asian communities. According to Variety, MANAA leader Guy Aoki secured a meeting with Leno after reaching out through Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy, as well as the producers of Leno’s current Fox game show You Bet Your Life. On a Zoom call with Aoki, Leno made clear he regretted making jokes that perpetuated Asian stereotypes as recently as 2019. “At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.” He continued, “At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
The former host of The Tonight Show went on to issue an apology that he made clear was not being forced out of him by the infamous PC police. “I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.” And to think all it took was a massive cultural reckoning spurred by unconscionable violence.