Geisha Video By LA CityWorks Is Offensive And Puzzling

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A still from LA CityWorks' video on water recycling.
A still from LA CityWorks' video on water recycling.

Another day, another racist video parody. In a YouTube video dug up by CBS2 Los Angeles, a Caucasian man dons a kimono, paints his face like a geisha and speaks in a stereotypical Japanese accent (complete with "L" and "R" mispronunciations).

Don't assume the film's producers are a bunch of clueless, bigoted fraternity brothers. Instead, it is the City of Los Angeles, via a local TV show called "LA CityWorks," that is behind the offensive taxpayer-funded video.

The short takes place at the Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys. Shot ostensibly to educate the public about recycled water, which the garden uses, the video quickly derails into hurtful Asian stereotypes and even has creepy Orientalist overtones.

“It brings back all the worst stereotypes. The accents, the whiteface," said Greg Kimura, the head of LA's Japanese American National Museum to CBS2. "I’m embarrassed for everybody who is involved in this. If there’s a remedy to this, it would be something like an apology and taking it down immediately.”

And that's exactly what happened once CBS2 alerted LA's Department of Public Works, which funds the LA CityWorks show. Watch the video above or head over to CBS2 to see how the department responded to the investigation.

LA CityWorks describes itself as a "zany and edgy show" about Public Works on its Facebook page. It airs on Channel 35 in Los Angeles.

Watch CBS2's original video:

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