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:
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:
“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:
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.
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.
Update, Sept. 6, 2021: Because pieces of shit remain pieces of shit, Josh Denny is getting attention for a new round of vile, racist, and/or misogynistic tweets. His Twitter bio still says that he’s “host of #ginormousfood on @foodnetwork,” and Food Network actually responded—with a surprisingly forceful statement that says the network “regret[s] giving him a platform”: