Actor Kal Penn Slams TIME Magazine for Racist Article

Celebrity News Jul. 8, 2010 AT 5:33PM
Actor Kal Penn Slams TIME Magazine for Racist Article Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Looks like actor Kal Penn learned a lot from his job in Washington, D.C..

After TIME magazine published Joel Stein's "My Own Private India" -- which mocked the growing Indian population in the author's hometown of Edison, NJ -- Penn wrote a scathing response in the Huffington Post.

Penn -- who was named Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement by Barack Obama in 2009 -- wasted no time calling out Stein and TIME for using ethnic stereotypes to get a laugh.

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In Stein's article, he took jabs at the Indian residents of his hometown, writing that they looked "like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s."

"Gags about impossibly spicy food? I'd never heard those before! Multiple Gods with multiple arms? Multiple laughs! Recounting racial slurs like 'dot-head?' Oh, Mr. Stein, is too good!" Penn wrote.

"Critics might call Mr. Stein's humor super-tired or as played out as the jokes about that cheap Jewish car that stopped on a dime to pick it up, or that African American kid who got marked absent at night school," the actor continued. "Although unlike Stein's Indian American piece, in 2010 those other jokes don't show up in mainstream media like TIME magazine. I wonder why that is..."

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Though a rep for TIME issued "no comment" on Penn's piece, the magazine did apologize to readers who found Stein's satire insulting.

"TIME sincerely regrets that any of our readers were upset by Joel Stein’s recent humor column 'My Own Private India,'" the rep tells UsMagazine.com in a statement. "It was in no way intended to cause offense."

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After receiving widespread criticism for the piece, Stein, 38, issued his own apology via TIME's Web site: "I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people," Stein wrote. "I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it."

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