TV

Harry Styles Swallowed Sperm and James Corden's "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" Is Racist

The array of "disgusting food" includes items like chicken feet, thousand year old egg, bird's saliva, or cod sperm, which are delicacies in certain countries like China or Japan.

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Alleged exes Kendall Jenner and Harry Styles reunited on The Late Late Show With James Corden when the pop singer guest-hosted for the evening.

Because there are few things Americans love more than watching rich and famous people become embarrassed, upset, and nearly vomit, the pair sat down for another segment of "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts." The gimmick is probably the most entertaining 10 minutes of James Corden's entire show. It features a full table of "gross" and so-called inedible animal products that the contestants are challenged to eat, or they can answer an embarrassing, salacious, or revealing question about their famous lives or their famous friends or famous family members or famous enemies.

And it's racist as sh*t. The array of "disgusting food" includes items like chicken feet, thousand year old eggs, bird's saliva, or cod sperm, which are delicacies in certain countries like China or Japan. As writer Shirley Cahyadi writes at Embodied, "The shock value of [Corden's] segment is derived out of perpetuating Western values about what 'food' is...The segment decidedly takes foods considered prized delicacies in Asian cultures and slanders them for the purpose of cheap laughs. It makes a mockery of them even though there are billions of people that consume these foods at mealtimes."

While not all of the gross-out foods carry cultural significance (there is not a single creature with a mouth that would voluntarily consume an entire shot of ghost pepper hot sauce), the large majority of them do. And James Corden knows this. He even acknowledged that many of these foods are "delicacies" on his show—as a way to challenge one of the young, beautiful starlets faced with the dilemma of eating cow tongue. But the inherent joke behind the skit is that Harry Styles shouldn't be drinking cod sperm or eating a scorpion (which he recently did, in order to avoid ranking the careers of his former One Direction bandmates).

Spill Your Guts: Harry Styles & Kendall Jenner www.youtube.com

Of course, the Eurocentrism of The Late Late Show With James Corden isn't surprising, what with Corden being a British citizen and the general sad fact that American media has always been Eurocentric. And of course, the entire concept of "the West" (as opposed to other cultures) is mythical bullsh*t and basically colonialism's spooge sprayed from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. Bored scholars and social scientists, such as Vassilis Lambropoulos in his book The Rise of Eurocentrism, have long pointed out that myths must be repeated and recycled throughout a culture in order to maintain their power in people's minds. Today the most powerful means of recycling myths is through television and any streamable media—whatever we may spend our exhausted and burnt out evenings watching—especially in 2019. As Theodor W. Adorno, one of the most influential philosophers and critics of the 20th century, once wrote, "[A]rt may be the only remaining medium of truth in an age of incomprehensible terror and suffering." He probably wasn't talking about late night talk shows (or maybe he was; he wrote it in 1984, and The Tonight Show debuted in 1954); but, his recurring point is that reducing events and objects of cultural significance to mindless entertainment is damaging to society.

Now, that's a lot to swallow when all you came here for is to watch Harry Styles swallow cod sperm (plus, Adorno was a really weird dude). But it's all underscoring a very significant point: Eating bull p*nis is not that weird. It just depends on who, where, and why you're eating it; because when you do it to mock a culture, James Corden, that makes you an assh*ole.