City Agency Criticized for Producing Video for Caricature

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The City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works has apologized for producing a video that promotes racial/ethnic stereotypes.


An image from the controversial video, which has been taken down from YouTube.

In a report that aired on May 9, CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein broke the story of the video — which has since been taken down from YouTube — in which a non-Asian man dressed in kimono and wearing heavy makeup speaks in a mock Japanese accent. It was produced by L.A. CityWorks, which airs on Channel 35, and funded by the Department of Public Works.

With the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys as the backdrop, the actor says, “The Japanese water park is a beautiful, beautiful site, with blooming, blooming lotus and water lilies.” The goal was apparently to teach viewers about recycled water, which is used at the Japanese Garden.

After being shown the video, Japanese American National Museum President and CEO Greg Kimura told CBS2, “It’s just awful … I find it personally offensive and in poor taste … It brings back all the worst stereotypes. The accents, the whiteface. I’m embarrassed for everybody who is involved in this.” Read more here.