The star of Food Network’s series Ginormous Food’s argument that “straight white male” is now a racial slur resulted in people on Twitter surfacing past tweets, which included mocking references to stereotypes about black people and Asian people, among others.
On Ginormous Food, which debuted in 2017 after a special aired in 2016, Food Network says that “Food fanatic Josh Denny is continuing his culinary journey across the country to find the intersection of huge and delicious.” The network’s original bio for him said “Josh Denny has spent the last decade traveling the country chasing his passion for the best food while serving up heaping portions of funny as a stand-up comedian,” and cited his “clever comedic observation” and ability to “dropping knowledge on the best eats in the country.”
On Friday night, Josh Denny started a thread on Twitter with this tweet:
“Straight White Male” has become this century’s N-Word. It’s used to offend and diminish the recipient based on assumption and bias. No difference in the usage.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 18, 2018
That tweet was followed by several more in which he attempts to make the case that “straight white male” is “racism,” and argued that “All shootings, all oppression; everything is blamed on SWM’s.”
Denny also decried responses to his tweet, writing, “The response to the initial tweet is exactly the ‘sound byte’ culture @kanyewest was referring to: people choosing to ignore context to confirm their own biases is the problem with our society.”
As people quickly pointed out, one reason “straight white male” is not similar was illustrated by Denny’s unwillingness to write out the actual racial slur. The writer Michael Harriott suggested a way for Denny to test this theory, while the writer Ana Marie Cox tweeted, “That you only felt the need to a euphemism for just one of those terms suggests a flaw in your argument.”
Even the dictionary responded:
The n-word is considered the most offensive word in the English language. “Straight white male” is … not. https://t.co/njUfJKA0g7
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 19, 2018
“It really wasn’t my intention to offend people; it was an honest reaction to a pattern I saw: saying ‘straight white males’ are responsible for all evil in society. That’s not true, just like a lot of the horrible things generalized about black people.”
Meanwhile, responses to Denny’s tweets began to surface past tweets of his—from as long as six years ago—that I think are best described as racist jokes. People responded to his original tweet thread with screenshots of earlier tweets, such as this one, which asks “what did you mean by this?” It referenced this tweet:
Hey Chinese girl at the pool: please close your legs. No one wants to see your slanty pussy.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) August 17, 2012
The most generous description I can offer is that it seems like his intent was to be funny in tweets like that and the ones below, but it’s also very clear that the target of these jokes are people of color, and they rely on grotesque racial stereotypes. And I don’t see any attempt to challenge those stereotypes or comment on them; the alleged jokes just repeat them and adopt offensive language.
Other past tweets follow. The tweets below are selective, of course; I searched his timeline for keywords, and in other tweets, he’s mocked the lack of diversity on Lena Dunham’s series “Girls” and criticized stereotypes of gay people on TV.
One person gathered screenshots of many of Denny’s offensive tweets and wrote to Food Network on Twitter, “just wondered why you are still employing” him.
After public outcry, Dan Snyder has said he's changing the offensive team name from the "Redskins" to the "Prairie Niggers" #RedskinsPride
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) June 21, 2014
I love listening to feminists talk about men. It reminds me of the charming way my grandparents used to talk about blacks.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) November 17, 2014
I'm trying to watch the BET awards, but the audio is lagging behind the broadcast. Way to be late to everything blacks.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 28, 2013
First things first, I'm gonna buy back all the freed slaves! #WorstPowerBallWinners
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) January 14, 2016
My friend asked me why there were no black people in #AQuietPlace. I just assumed they all died in movie theatres on the first day of the invasion.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) April 11, 2018
Are black people just the holocaust Jews that survived all of it?
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) December 17, 2012
The original name of "Instagram" was "the line of thirsty ass niggas starts below these pictures of girls," but they had to shorten it.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 21, 2014
Sorry if a joke I've tweeted has ever offended you. April Fools, we still think you're all lame fags over here.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) April 1, 2014
Hey @MakeAWish if I can get an African to give me AIDS, will you guys take me whaling? Not in the silly fat chick way either, I want Orcas.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 24, 2013
I just read an article describing in detail how AIDS came from monkeys. I also just found out how mad they get if you call them that.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 26, 2013
Everytime I see an Asian person panicking behind the wheel, I start to wonder if Pearl Harbor was just a widely misunderstood accident.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) May 9, 2015
How loud does Muslim prayer have to take place in your complex before you contact Homeland Security?
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) January 14, 2014
If Instagram stories were around when I was younger, showing me how dirty women are and how messy they live, I’d 100% be gay right now.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) January 5, 2018
Oh hey Asian people: I know everyone in your homeland is shoulder to shoulder, but here in America there is plenty of space NOT up my ass.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) January 18, 2011
Update, 3:18 p.m.: While his Twitter bio says he’s the host of Ginormous Food, Denny’s show is no longer in production; after the backlash began, he tweeted that he hadn’t been employed by Food Network for a year, apparently because the show had not been picked up.
But there have been consequences for his words: He also posted to Facebook that a comedy club had cancelled his show.