How is James Corden problematic? The Late Late Show with James Corden saw an average of 1.45 million viewers during its 2018-2019 season and has been nominated for 12 Emmy awards - there is no doubt of the show’s success and its ability to entertain an audience. I too enjoy watching former First Lady Michelle Obama hit Harry Styles in the groin with a dodgeball. However, “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” perhaps the most popular segment on the show after “Carpool Karaoke,” is problematic.

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Julia Gilman

In "Spill Your Guts," celebrities must choose between eating one of several “disgusting” foods (all causing an audible “EWW!” from the audience) presented on the table in front of them, or answering a difficult personal question that is bound to spark some kind of media coverage. Commonly featured foods include chicken feet, bird saliva, 1,000-year-old eggs, and cod sperm. But all of these dishes - and most of the foods featured on the show - are actually common or even delicacies in various Asian cultures, particularly in China and Japan.

These foods are not as strange as Western culture may lead people to think. As a Chinese-American with immigrant parents, my family regularly eats braised chicken feet at the dim sum restaurant near our home in small-town New Hampshire. Bird’s saliva is eaten as a delicacy in Chinese cuisine in the form of bird’s nest soup, where the saliva of a swiftlet bird is solidified as a nest. 1,000-year-old egg, known as century egg, is another dish in Chinese culture commonly eaten with congee or rice porridge. While it is widely considered to be an acquired taste, cod sperm is a Japanese delicacy called shirako or milt that is often fried or served with sushi. Why is it that extremely aged cheese is considered a rare and fancy food for many Western folk while century egg is gross? Or that caviar is considered to be a normal food while cod sperm seems incredibly crazy?

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Athena Huynh

It is true that The Late Late Show prepares these dishes in a much more unappetizing way than they are made in Chinese and Japanese traditional cuisine. For example, James Corden’s century eggs are eaten whole or as eggnog rather than sliced into pieces and served with congee. It is also true that people's tastes in foods are influenced by their own cultures, so that people can think that chicken feet and century eggs are gross. I'm not trying to convince anyone that such a subjective thing as one's taste in food is wrong or incorrect. Out of all of the times that my family has eaten chicken feet, I have never found the dish to be appetizing enough to eat myself.

However, the issue is that Corden will point out that these dishes are delicacies in “many parts of the world” as a kind of joke and laugh - ridiculing these other cultures as being weird for not abiding by Western traditions. It reinforces the idea of cultural chauvinism, or the belief that one's culture is superior to another ethnic group or culture, on national television to an audience of millions. It is okay to personally find certain foods unappetizing, but making jabs at other cultures for having "strange" or "gross" dishes without respecting the nuances is not.

Piper Spooner

What can be done about this? In an episode of Spill Your Guts with Cher, Corden added “disgusting” delicacies from the British Isles to celebrate an episode being filmed in the United Kingdom. Still, a deep-fried candy bar does not elicit the same kind of reaction as cod sperm among a Western audience, and these European additions have not been promoted since. Replacing various Asian foods with European ones may seem like a better alternative, but I don't think that making fun of any culture would make this segment or Corden any less problematic.

The Bottom Line

"Spill Your Guts" needs to be more tactful in its approach to the culturally significant foods it presents onto the table. While they may not seem as crazy to Western audiences, The Late Late Show could be more respectful to various cultures by presenting more universally unpleasant food options (such as a shot of ridiculously hot sauce, which is already featured on the show). Or, Corden could be more educational and thoughtful while describing the various dishes, like by explaining that the dishes can be quite appetizing when prepared in the ways that foreign cultures do. With a bit of a change in programming, "Spill Your Guts" can be more entertaining not just for Western audiences but for everyone.