This week on How I Met Your Mother, Marshall (Jason Segel) gives Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) his penultimate slap in “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra.” Barney turns yellow (figuratively) when Marshall recounts his martial arts training in the ancient art of slapping. The slapprentice trains under three (literally) yellowface masters: Red Bird (Cobie Smulders), White Flower (Alyson Hannigan) and The Calligrapher (Josh Radnor).
The episode features stereotypical costumes and a Fu Manchu mustache, which the PC police are calling a slap in the face to Asians. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas tweeted out an apology with the hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism.
With Monday’s episode, we set out to make a silly and unabashedly immature homage to Kung Fu movies, a genre we’ve always loved. But along the way we offended people. We’re deeply sorry, and we’re grateful to everyone who spoke up to make us aware of it. We try to make a show that’s universal, that anyone can watch and enjoy. We fell short of that this week, and feel terrible about it. To everyone we offended, I hope we can regain your friendship, and end this series on a note of goodwill.
Was an apology really necessary? There are numerous examples of actors playing other races: Steve Oedekerk was digitally inserted himself into role of an Asian man in Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Alex Borstein played the Chinese inspired Mrs. Swan on MADtv, Shawn and Marlon Wayans wore whiteface in White Chicks, Dave Chappelle regularly played the white news anchor Chuck Taylor on Chappelle’s Show, C. Thomas Howell donned blackface in Soul Man as did Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder. None of them felt it necessary to issue an apology. It’s a joke, and it’s not done in a mean-spirited way. In fact, most of the time the laughs at the expense of the person in the costume and not the costume itself but even it were, what’s wrong with laughing at our differences?