TV Hosts Under Fire for Racist Broadcast Mocking Asian Eyes and Accents

An Italian TV show has come under fire for a racially insensitive broadcast in which the hosts are seen imitating and insulting the appearances and accents of Chinese citizens.

On Monday, a broadcast of the satirical Italian show Striscia la Notizia included a segment reflecting on the Italian national broadcasting company RAI, whose headquarters are located in Beijing.

Hosts Gerry Scotti, a former Italian Parliament member, and Michelle Hunziker, a model and actress, began mocking how Chinese men and women pronounce the letter "R." According to the outspoken fashion critic Instagram account @DietPrada, at several points in the broadcast, they said the company was called "LAI" instead of "RAI."

Diet Prada also reported that Scotti and Hunziker "then proceeded to pull the corners of their eyes up in the manner of common racist gestures meant to caricaturize Asian features."

Although Global Times estimates that Italy is the European nation with the largest Chinese population, Italian TV data outlet Auditel reported the broadcast was viewed over 4.7 million times.

Social media influencer and fashion writer Louis Pisano also called attention to another recent incident of the show's racist programming on his Instagram stories on Tuesday. Calling Italian TV "a toilet" and the hosts "rotted from the inside out," he noted that last week Striscia la Notizia included a sketch calling black children "n****r babies."

"It's so disturbing that these people continue to be that on the forefront of the Italian mainstream media, watched by millions, millions who are influenced and informed by this behavior and in turn go out into the world and perpetuate it," Pisano wrote.

Pisano demanded a response from viewers, claiming that "if it's not affecting white Italians it's not a problem."

"You see in Italy people of color are reduced to the butt of the joke, a punchline, a caricature so it's a total mindf**k for these people to comprehend that their punchlines the subjects of their 'humor' are actual people with feelings," he added.

Diet Prada reported that Hunziker, who is married to Italian fashion mogul Tomaso Trussardi, was "brainwashed and mentally abused" while involved with a cult in 2017. "Since her experience, the TV presenter has been active and outspoken on women's abuse issues," the caption said.

The account also noted that "both Scotti and Hunziker are well-regarded public figures in Italy who have taken stands for LGBTQ and women's rights."

Shortly after the social media backlash, Hunziker released an official apology on her Instagram account. "As always in my career, I carefully listen to you and I learn from your feedback every day," she captioned the post. "I am deeply sorry for what [happened] and for the people I offended, it wasn't my intention."

She added that she was "committed to positive change" and thanked Diet Prada for "holding [her] accountable."

Striscia la Notizia has not commented on the controversy.

Asian hate
An Italian satire program is under fire for a racially-charged segment that included mocking Asian accents and gesturing to slanted eyes. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images