Trisha’s mocking of a McDonald’s employee “infuriated the Asian Australian community”

Real World Sydney cast member Trisha Cummings “has infuriated the Asian Australian community and been panned by US audiences after a recent episode showed her demanding an Asian cashier at the Bondi McDonald’s “learn English,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

“Anti-discrimination officials have criticised the producers of MTV’s Real World reality show, saying they should not air racist comments made by the show’s stars,” the paper says; they are apparently unfamiliar with the fact that this is nothing new.

The New South Wales’ Anti-Discrimination Board president told the paper, “The bottom line is it is not ok to be derisive of someone who is trying hard to make a success of their life by picking on them because someone did not have the patience to understand what was being said. The fact that she was in the position she was shows she was competent enough to be employed in that role.”

Trisha’s agent, Michael Martin, told News Limited, “Trisha is distraught by this misconception that she is racist. The edited video footage in question merely has her conveying in the second hand a person’s lack of ability to speak English and not disparaging their race or ethnicity.” On his blog, Michael Martin argues that she’s “a Victim of the Real World Politically Correct” and says this “devalues the term racist by reducing its meaning to the severity of someone’s true ignorance and prejudice” because there was “no mention of race or ethnicity and there was no direct footage of the incident, so for what anyone knows it could have been a white Australian with a thick Australian accent.”

Not quite; that’s not what the episode shows at all. In that scene from the first episode, which is viewable online, Trisha indeed does not identify the cashier’s ethnicity, but does use an unnecessary, mocking Asian accent when she’s telling the story of her inability to get a sample of a McFlurry.

And Trisha explicitly says the confusion is because the cashier couldn’t speak English, not, say, the cashier’s lack of comprehension of her request for a sample at McDonald’s (what asshat asks for a sample at McDonald’s?). “So I asked to sample it, and she doesn’t get what I’m saying because she doesn’t speak English,” Trisha said.

Trisha concludes the story by telling her roommates, “I was like, you know what, keep the money, maybe take some English lessons, I’m leaving because you don’t know how to speak English so it doesn’t really work out.” Her roommate Parisa then says during a confessional interview, “I’m pained that idea that I live with someone who’s so inconsiderate and mean.”

TV producers should take blame for airing racist rant [Daily Telegraph]
Real World Sydney: Full Episode (Ep. 1900) [MTV]
Trisha Cummings a Victim of the Real World Politically Correct [MM Agency]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.