A sketch on a popular Italian TV show mocking Chinese people has launched a debate about racism, and satire, in Italy. While Asian and Black activists took to social media to share their experiences with racism growing up in Italy, including how it can be fomented by satire, the TV hosts at the center of the uproar said Thursday they have been subjected to a “wave of hatred,” including death threats.
Michelle Hunziker and Gerry Scotti, hosts of the satirical show “Striscia la Notizia” (“The News Crawls”) on the private Mediaset network, apologized for the sketch during which they made slanted-eye gestures and mimicked a Chinese accent as they introduced a segment.
“We are pained, deeply,” Hunziker told Corriere della Sera in an interview published a day after she apologized on Instagram. “We were in good faith: we are very sorry knowing that we bumped against the sensitivity of someone. But what is happening is frightening: we received a real wave of hatred that is being spread in an instrumentalized way.”
Hunziker spoke of an organized campaign against the co-hosts, that also targeted the Trussardi fashion house founded by the family of her husband, Tomaso Trussardi. “We are talking about almond-shaped eyes made by Gerry and me, when in China there are unspeakable things happening, on which we should concentrate if we want to speak of human rights.”
The producers of the show, however, refused to apologize, saying that “Striscia la Notizia” is…