UCLA Student Latest to Joke About Japan Quake
By LUCHINA FISHER and SHEILA MARIKAR3/16/2011, 3:27 PM EDT
Alexandra Wallace Apologizes for Video Tirade As List of People Making Light of Disaster Grows
UCLA student Alexandra Wallace received death threats after her Internet rant about Asians on campus went viral last weekend, making her just the latest person to face a backlash for off-color comments following Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster.
On Monday, Wallace, a junior political science major, apologized for her videotaped tirade, titled "Asians in the Library." In the video posted Friday, the same day the earthquake and tsunami hit, Wallace vented about "the hordes of Asian people" at UCLA and mocked them for talking on the phone in the library.
"Ohhhh! Ching chong ling long ting tong!" she said, imitating an Asian student talking on the phone.
Referencing the tsunami, which has killed thousands and left millions homeless, she said the students were probably checking on their relatives but they should take their phone calls outside.
After the video was posted on YouTube, Wallace received angry phone calls and e-mails and sought police protection after she was threatened multiple times.
She apologized for the video in a letter to the campus newspaper: "Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate," she said in the statement. "I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I'd like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand."
The school's chancellor Gene Block called the incident "a sad day for UCLA."
Wallace wasn't the only person apologizing for an ill-timed remark. Comic Gilbert Gottfried, who lost his job as the voice of the Aflac duck after making light Japan's disaster, also apologized Tuesday.
"I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan," he told The Hollywood Reporter and his followers via posts on Twitter. "I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families."
Gottfried's troubles began when he tweeted, "Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them" and "I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, 'They'll be another one floating by any minute now."
Gilbert Gottfried Fired for Comments
Howard Stern and Joan Rivers came to his defense, pointing out that the comic was just being funny. "That's what comedians do!!!" Rivers tweeted. "We react to tragedy by making jokes to help people in tough times feel better through laughter."
Stern said Aflac knew about Gottfried's offensive humor when he was hired and, therefore, he should never have been fired.
"Here's a guy that, as long as I know him, has been making jokes about the N-word, about Jews," the shock jock said on his show. "I mean, you couldn't ask for a more inappropriate person than Gilbert Gottfried."
Before Gottfried, rapper 50 Cent offended many shortly after Friday's earthquake. With tsunami warnings still in effect, 50 (real name: Curtis Jackson) tweeted "Wave will hit 8am them crazy white boys gonna try to go surfing." That afternoon, he added, "Look this is very serious people I had to evacuate all my hoe's from LA, Hawaii and Japan. I had to do it. Lol."
Glenn Beck rationalized the disaster in the Pacific as a "message" from God.
"I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes -- well I'm not not saying that either!" he said. "What God does is God's business, I have no idea. But I'll tell you this -- whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus, there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.'"
Beck broke into a cackle before reiterating, "I'm just saying." (It's not clear why Beck brought up "Gaia" -- the word refers to the Greek version of Mother Nature but doesn't appear to have roots in Asian culture.)
Many other stars have taken a compassionate attitude to the crisis. On his website, pop culture sensation of the moment Charlie Sheen announced that he will donate $1 from each ticket of his upcoming live show, "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option," to the Red Cross' fund for relief. Tickets to his Chicago and Detroit shows, which range from $35 to $75, reportedly sold out within minutes.
Late Friday, Lady Gaga announced she's selling a self-designed "We Pray for Japan" wristband on her website; all proceeds from the $5 band will go to Japan relief efforts.