Last week, Toby Keith and Will Smith were performing together in Oslo, Norway, for the Nobel Peace Prize concert. First of all, this wasn’t part of the real ceremony for the concert, it was an “impromptu performance” lead by Will Smith, with Toby only joining in at times as Will sang “Rapper’s Delight”. What’s bothering people is that during the performance, Toby Keith made “slant eyes” when he heard the word “yellow” as Will sang the lyrics “to the black, to the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow.” The video is above – it’s around the 25 second mark. I think it’s pretty clear that Toby was making the gesture, and not getting something out of his eye of whatever. Here’s a little more from HuffPo:
Toby Keith may have offended Asian Americans while in Norway for the Peace Prize Concert.
Dancing along as Will Smith did a version of “Rapper’s Delight,” Keith pulled his eyes back on the “yellow” of the lyrics, “to the black, to the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow.”
A rep for the Asian American Justice Center told TMZ, “Toby Keith embarrassed himself and his country, denigrated the Noble Peace Prize and offended Asians and Asian Americans by using a crude, racist hand gesture.”
Keith’s rep just said, “nobody at the party thought Toby was out of line.”
[From Huffington Post]
When TMZ contacted Toby’s rep a few days later, the rep said: “No one at the concert thought Toby was out of line. Everyone was impressed with his rapping skills and that’s it … all of the artists liked each other, hung out, and it was a very friendly, genuine, and supportive atmosphere.” Er… Toby barely rapped. All he did was kind of dance awkwardly and make a racist gesture.
So says two Asian American rights groups who are now publicly slamming Toby. As TMZ reports: “A rep for the Asian American Justice Center tells TMZ, ‘Toby Keith embarrassed himself and his country, denigrated the Noble Peace Prize and offended Asians and Asian Americans by using a crude, racist hand gesture.’ Another group — the Media Action Network for Asians — also took offense with Toby, telling us, “By doing this, he is telling his Asian fans ‘you don’t matter, you’re not on my radar.'” To be fair to Toby, I don’t think he has a large Asian-American following no matter what he does. His fan base seems mainly based on white men who enjoy songs about boots up asses. For real.
This is basically the exact same controversy that Miley Cyrus got into early this year – except when she made “slant eyes” she was posing for group photos with a bunch of kids, while Toby did it in front of a huge international audience at one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies in the world. Well done, Toby. You show those Norwegians that it’s cool to make fun of Asians! F-cking ridiculous.
Here’s Toby, trying to ignore the one Asian guy at a press conference for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert: