The incident occurred during the Wednesday episode of the Boston WEEI radio show, where the producer, Chris Curtis, referred to ESPN’s NFL analyst Mina Kimes as one of his “top five nips.”
The show’s co-hosts were discussing “nips,” a term used in Boston to refer to miniature liquor bottles. The same term is also a racial slur — short for Nippon — that was widely used during World War II to describe Japanese people.
Kimes, however, is of Korean descent.
The 39-year-old actor’s name came into the picture after Curtis apologized on air on Thursday, saying he meant to say Kunis’ name instead of Kimes’ in his “pathetic attempt at a one-liner,” adding that he has been suspended for his action.
Several Twitter users questioned Curtis’ explanation, specifically his intention of mentioning Kunis.
“How is meaning Mila Kunis better?” one Twitter user commented.
“I’m trying to phrase this in a minimally bonkworthy manner, but is there any particular reason for Mila Kunis to be the subject of this particular bad joke? I mean, in the sense that “Farrah Fawcett” might have been back in the day,” another user wrote.
“This is such a lie by Curtis. Watch the video and his smirk after,” one user pointed out. “The comment makes zero sense if Mila Kunis is the target. It makes PERFECT (racist) sense if it’s Kimes. He should not have been allowed back on air and a week unpaid vacation is a joke.”
Some Twitter users speculated that Curtis was referring to Kunis’ body, using the phrase “nips” as shorthand for nipples.
“Maybe he was thinking of Mila Kunis’s nips. There must be more important things than analyzing Chris Curtis’s verbal diarrhea,” a Twitter user wrote.
“Trying to understand how Mila Kunis is better or worse than Mina Kimes? Was CC referring to ethnicity or body part?” another user asked.
“I’m still trying to figure out why’d he claim mila kunis? She hasn’t been topless in anything,” another Twitter user wrote.
Many members of the AAPI community in Massachusetts were outraged by Curtis’ joke and called out the Boston radio show producer for using another person’s ethnicity for laughs.
“It’s very much a term used during WWII to refer to the Japanese when they were the enemy during the war. If you’re in a public forum, if it’s a classroom or on the air, using the term almost makes it sound like it’s OK to use the term, even if it’s not OK,” David Howell, a professor of Japanese History at Harvard University, told CBS News.
Massachusetts AAPI Commission Chairman Dr. Gary Chu said he is hoping for more accountability from Curtis following the controversy.
Hearing those comments are hurtful. Let’s not go back and perpetuate hate, especially AAPI hate, which has been on the rise not only in the U.S., but in Mass. and the City of Boston. Anytime we can denounce things like that will help. We’re working to talk about these issues, providing resources to elevate the messages of what is going on so everyone understands the diversity of the AAPI population.
Jason Whitlock, a former sports personality who became a commentator for the conservative-leaning Blaze Media, tried to shift outrage toward Kimes on Twitter.
In his tweet, Whitlock asked his over 709,000 followers if they knew “’Nip’ was an ethnic slur.” He then accused the ESPN NFL analyst of “nailing herself to a cross” and saying he did not see any damages to her caused by the comment.
In her response, Kimes tweeted at Whitlock: “Nailing myself to a cross? I made one joke and went back to work…because unlike you, I still talk about sports for a living. Have a great day.”