British comedian and children’s author David Walliams has come under fire for penning a story rife with outdated Asian stereotypes, perpetuating casual racism from an early age.
The short story, titled “Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong,” is featured in Walliams’ book “The World’s Worst Children,” which was illustrated by Tony Ross.
The book was first published in 2016, but the story in question only started facing heavy criticism on Instagram this week.
In a series of Instagram Stories, user @chinesechippygirl, who is British-born Chinese, called out Walliams for his problematic jokes about Asians, which could have been avoided if he only “did his research.”
In the story’s opening illustration, readers see an image of the stereotypical “Asian nerd,” complete with eyeglasses, a picture frame with numbers and strings of mathematical operations.
Its title, which rhymes the surname Wong with the word “wrong,” also echoes racist jokes toward the East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) community, according to @chinesechippygirl.
The frustrated Instagram user went on to compare the problematic work with stories by ESEA writers and illustrators, which do not promote archaic stereotypes.
“No David Walliams, you’ve got it wrong!” @chinesechippygirl wrote. “And the next time you and other non-ESEA people use our culture to profiteer from and to push yourself out, what you need is to speak to somebody from the community. Stop whitewashing our culture as that is 100% wrong.”
@chinesechippygirl’s exposé quickly gained attention. Over the next few hours, others followed suit to criticize Walliams.
“Such a shame how all these white people steal from our culture. This is a kids’ book too so it’s normalising casual racism from an early age,” @theannachan wrote.
Another Instagram user, @britishchinesebiz, noted that “Putting an ESEA story in your book for ‘diversity’ while perpetuating racist stereotypes isn’t inclusive. This substandard representation is not needed and not ok.”
“Pop this one in the bin,” @_amy_pix suggested. “The perception that Asians are good at maths and ‘swotty’ is problematic and plays into the model minority myth.”
Maisie Chen, the author of “Amy Wants a Pet” — one of the books @chinesechippygirl used as an example of better Asian representation — urged people to support her work instead.
“D Walliams is getting an ear wigging on Instagram for his character Brian Wong being racist and stereotypical … and someone put: ‘If David Walliams is the problem, then Maisie Chan is the solution.’ I feel all warm inside. Buy my book please,” Chen wrote.
D Walliams is getting an ear wigging on Instagram for his character Brian Wong being racist and stereotypical…and someone put: ‘If David Walliams is the problem, then Maisie Chan is the solution.’ I feel all warm inside. 😄Buy my book please! #DannyChungDoesNotDoMaths
— MAISIE CHAN (@MaisieWrites) February 7, 2021
Walliams, 49, has not responded to the backlash as of this writing.
Feature Image Screenshots via Getty (left), @chinesechippygirl (right)