Last week the Fox game show parody ''Banzai'' featured a game of wheelchair chicken, a ''geisha shuffle,'' and a battle for the soul of an infant boy. It was only a matter of time before somebody complained. On Thursday 20 members of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) picketed outside a presentation for the network’s fall schedule to criticize the show’s portrayal of Asians.
The show, which first began airing on the BBC in 2000, features a highly excitable announcer narrating bizarre stunts in a Japanese accent as well as a cast of quirky Asian characters like the karate-chopping Mr. Bonzai, Cheeky Chappy, and mostly mute interviewer Lady One Question.
''This is like an Asian minstrel show,'' MANAA cofounder Guy Aoiki told Reuters. ''Can you imagine a black version of ‘Banzai’?'' The group has had two meeting with Fox asking that the show be canceled and that an apology be made to viewers. Fox has stated that if the show returns for a second season, a disclaimer may be added at the beginning of the program.
Fox may need to add more than that if the show’s stunts get any weirder. Police stopped the ''Banzai'' film crew from filming the Queen Mother’s funeral procession in London last April when it was determined the show planned to use the speed of the hearse as the basis for a game. As the show's announcer might say, that would be naughty, partner!