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A humorous video featuring some playful toddlers was all over social media the other day, but along with it was also a “viral” display of a dangerous stereotype.
The scene was from a BBC television interview with a professor living in South Korea, which became suddenly awkward after his two young children came crashing into the footage halfway their serious discussion. The adorable “uninvited guests” immediately became instant internet celebrities after the video went viral.
Featured in the interview was Pusan National University associate professor Robert E. Kelly who was giving his insight on North and South Korean relations. In the clip, an Asian woman can also be seen entering the scene and hurryingly removing the toddlers from the televised view.
“@David_Waddell What would that mean, please? Re-broadcasting it on BBC TV, or just here on Twitter? Is this kinda thing that goes ‘viral’ and gets weird?”
@David_Waddell What would that mean, please? Re-broadcasting it on BBC TV, or just here on Twitter? Is this kinda thing that goes ‘viral’ and gets weird?
— Robert E Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) March 10, 2017
And go viral, the video did, amassing hundreds of thousands of views within hours. The “weirdness” part came after netizens began to comment on the woman who many assumed was the nanny of the kids.
Twitter and Facebook users even noted that the “nanny” looked scared or afraid for her job. Time, in an article which has since been updated, dubbed her initially as the “frenzied nanny” while a British tabloid referred to her as the “horrified nanny.”
This nanny is absolutely unemployed rn pic.twitter.com/Wjq8zMpGkL
— Podfathers Podcast (@PodfathersShow) March 10, 2017
That BBC dad HATES his kids. Gotta imagine the mom is gone, that’s why there’s a nanny. Dad blames kids for him pushing her away.
— bearflash (@bearflash) March 10, 2017
I aspire to match the comedic timing of the nanny in the BBC Dad video.
— Marc Sherman (@marctsherman) March 10, 2017
Immigrant nanny probably got chewed out/fired. He stiff armed his daughter like nothing so you know he yelled at that woman afterwards.
— Kail (@VivoTranquil0) March 10, 2017
However, the woman in the video is the professor’s Korean wife: Jung-a Kim.
During an episode of ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, hosts Ant and Dec made fun of the incident, similarly calling the woman as the nanny.
“”Hello professor! Professor, professor… oh… he’s busy… he’s not ready. He’s not ready, he’s got his hands full. Him and the nanny have got their hands full so we won’t go to him,” Ant McPartlin said.
Viewers immediately pointed out the error.
“Ant & Dec just called the woman in the Robert Kelly video ‘the nanny’….disgraceful assumption tbh #SaturdayNightTakeaway,” a viewer of the show tweeted.
“Did Ant just refer to #RobertKelly wife as the nanny? @itvtakeaway #Takeaway,” another posted on Twitter.
Another one wrote: “#Takeaway @antanddec Ant, I think you will find it is the Professor and his wife in Hong Kong. Not the ‘nanny’! Also said it was Hong Kong, not South Korea. I’m off to BBC4.”
Was assuming that Ms. Kim was the nanny a sign of white-centric bias? When people immediately go assuming that the type of relationship between whites and people of color can only be of an employer to employee, something is definitely wrong.
According to Phil Yu of the Angry Asian Man, the assumption was made because “People fell back on stereotypes.”
He pointed out that, “There are stereotypes of Asian women as servile, as passive, as fulfilling some kind of service role.”
He didn’t make the error when he first saw the video.
“This is the single best video in the history of white men talking about Korea,” he earlier tweeted. It was the comments on his tweet that told noticed how many people assumed the woman was the nanny.
“That hadn’t occurred to me,” he said. “It was so clearly the terrified parents.”
Many Twitter users suggest that maybe it is time for people to revisit their biases.
1) It’s his wife, not a nanny or maid
2) She has a name, Jung-a Kim
3) Cute kids
4) Life happens ❤️
5) 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/3NFVATjy50
— Maria Chong (@mariachong) March 10, 2017
Did you come to a wrong conclusion about this sweet video? Lol…we can laugh it off, learn about our biases, grow smarter.
— Maria Chong (@mariachong) March 10, 2017
Some of you should look long and hard at why you assume that mother is the nanny.
— roxane gay (@rgay) March 10, 2017
If you immediately thought the woman pulling the kids out of the room on that BBC video was the nanny – you need to own you’re racist af
— Anne Tibbets (@AnneTibbets) March 10, 2017