Fox causes stir with controversial video

“Let’s give the Conference’s two newest members a good, old-fashioned, All-American welcome!” begins Bob Oschack’s September 2 clip on Fox Sports.

In a distasteful segment aired Sept. 2, Fox Sports “welcomed” Colorado and Utah to the newly formed PAC-12. The video, which aired on their Sports homepage and was quickly added to YouTube and Hulu, featured comedian-turned-reporter Bob Oschack interviewing numerous USC students on campus — all of whom were Asian-American.

The three-minute clip shows Oschack deliberately misunderstanding the students’ accents, asking them what they know about USC’s football program, and then poking fun at their lack of knowledge.

Fox Sports was quick to remove the video from its various servers as soon as the complaints started rolling in. The video, which was called a “flagrant racial caricature” by, caused a small commotion during the time it was online. In return, head of media relations Lou D’Ermillo issued an official statement to “the entire USC community” apologizing for the breakdown in editorial professionalism.

Critics say the video mocks Asian-Americans, singling them out and making them seem un-American. In one segment, Oschack responds to a student’s enthusiastic “Welcome to Colorado and Utah!” with a condescending, “No, you’re saying welcome to Colorado and Utah. We’re in Los Angeles.”

The clip is unsettlingly racist, especially considering that USC is such an ethnically and culturally diverse school. Though Fox Sports apologized profusely for the video, something like this should never have left the drawing board.

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1 reply
  1. Clayton Burns
    Clayton Burns says:

    This story is chock full of ironies. (Columbia Journalism Review posted a comment and the video). Strangely, nobody bothered to examine admissions standards at USC. Out of delicacy, I will not yet call those practices racist.

    SAT English is atrocious. TOEFL English is an embarrassment. USC should cooperate with American, Australian, and UK universities to establish an accurate world admissions curriculum for learners of English.

    If I say “I talk…talk about what?” then I am a victim of silly English teaching and testing (the default English “curriculum” in many countries is IELTS or TOEFL). There is a powerful way to teach ESL at this level: reading out loud from the Penguin Kipling’s “Kim” (Edward Said) and the Penguin Kipling “Selected Stories,” ed. Andrew Rutherford. Searching words and grammar in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Absorbing the COBUILD Intermediate English Grammar. Columbia might be the best university to teach these texts to Asia via distance education.

    Yale, since it has some experience in Internet education, might be effective in teaching an advanced English learner’s course with the COBUILD English Grammar, the Arden “Hamlet,” “The Turn of the Screw,” “Heart of Darkness,” and the poems of Emily Dickinson.

    The USC admissions procedures for international students, whether intentional or not, are deeply racist. They are paternalistic and absurd. They expose the cognitive limitations of the admissions people. (If you want focus on cognition so as to help design English language systems for international students, you could assimilate Mark Ashcraft’s great text “Cognition”).

    Fox, ironically, is part of the company that owns COBUILD. Instead of posting racist video, Fox could reveal the depredations of TOEFL English and promote COBUILD. English is the Exxon Mobil or Walmart of languages. The massive gravitational attraction of ETS, Kaplan, TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, and ACT costs students the opportunity to learn. The opportunity costs of English are those of a virtual predatory corporation larger than Walmart.

    Now, it would be possible for admissions at USC to ask questions about my post. Instead of going to ground or hiding in a cardboard box.

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