Jimmy Kimmel, the popular comedian and late-night host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” isn’t out of the woods yet for his offensive “kill everyone in China” skit. The 45-year-old Kimmel, whose show airs on ABC, has faced backlash ever since last month’s “Kids Table” segment during which he and his child guests joked about killing everyone in China to settle America’s debt to the Chinese.
On Saturday, the controversy reached its fever pitch. Protests of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” took place in 27 cities across the nation, including Los Angeles and Phoenix. In California, more than 1,000 protesters gathered outside ABC’s headquarters in Burbank, according to The Los Angeles Times.
"We know ABC has issued an apology, but that is not enough," Charles Lu, chairman of the Roundtable of Chinese American Organizations, told the Los Angeles Times last Thursday. "We want ABC to make a formal apology to all Chinese and do something in the future to avoid terrorist violence."
The protest outside ABC’s headquarters was peaceful, but police did have to head off some picketers who entered a restricted area. No arrests were made.
In Phoenix, about 100 people gathered to demand that Kimmel be fired for the “kill everyone in China” joke. They held up signs that read, “Racism is no joke,” and “Stop Hate Speech! Stop inciting violence! Stop race-baiting!” Others read: “Racial hatred hurts everyone,” and “Teach kids to love, not to kill.”
"I cared little about Jimmy Kimmel or his show before, but I think how he made his name in the Chinese community, but not in a very smart way," Min Tao, who was present at the protest in Phoenix on Saturday, told My Fox Phoenix. "I watch the video clip online again and again and every time, it makes my heart sink deeper and deeper.”
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” episode in question aired Oct. 16. During a segment called “Kids Table,” Kimmel asks three young guests how the U.S. should handle its $1.3 trillion debt to China. “How should we pay them back?” he questions.
One kid responds by saying, “Kill everyone in China!”
"That's an interesting idea,” Kimmel responded. Later in the segment, Kimmel joked, “Should we allow the Chinese to live?” The kids were divided in their answers.
ABC later apologized for the episode, saying they would “never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large.”
“Our objective is to entertain. We took swift action to minimize the distribution of the skit by removing it from all public platforms available to us and editing it out of any future airings of the show."
But some people don’t think the apology from ABC is enough. "He did not admit that he was wrong,” Tian Wang of Diamond Bar, Calif., told KPCC. “All he said was, 'I'm sorry if you feel that way. I'm sorry if I offended you.' That doesn't make it right. He has to come out and say that it was wrong and it was uncalled for and he will never do that again.”
The “kill everyone in China” controversy has even reached the president. A petition submitted to the White House has reached 100,000 online signatures, meaning it could warrant a response from Barack Obama. The petition asks for a sincere apology and for the network to cut the segment from ever airing again.
“The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred,” the petition reads.
Here’s the “kill everyone in China” clip which aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Oct. 16: