A Canadian social media influencer faced fierce backlash over a racist video in which he joked that an Asian market has a “pet store” in the back.
The influencer ultimately apologized for his ignorance—but viewers aren’t buying it.
“Under his apology video, there are people saying ‘we’ forgive u. Bro, who’s we?!” one TikTok user commented.
Joel Hansen, known as @modelvsfood across TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, set himself up for failure in May—Asian American-Pacific Islander Heritage Month—when he mocked the Asian store and its items in the TikTok video. The 3-minute video, which has been deleted, was captured by TikToker Michael or @chachamyeonmikal.
In the clip, which has a text banner reading “This food should be illegal,” Hansen can be seen standing outside the Asian supermarket T&T.
“If you have never been in an Asian grocery store, you’re about to be shocked!” he says.
The video then shows Hansen inside the store, where he smells durian—a fruit popular in Southeast Asia—and makes a disgusted face. Next, he questions a plucked chicken and why it was being sold with its feet still intact.
“They even have a pet store back here where you can grab whatever animals you want!” Hansen exclaims while holding a crab with tongs at the seafood counter.
At this point, Michael interrupts the video repost to make a statement about Hansen’s racist comments.
“I had to stop right at that comment about there being a pet store at the back of an Asian grocery store,” Michael says. “Like, you have to know how bad that sounds and how bad that looks.”
Then, Michael transitions back to Hansen’s TikTok footage, which includes visible hashtags like “food challenge,” “eww,” “gross,” “gross food,” “gross food challenge,” and “California food.”
“I know he leads a flavourless life,” someone commented under Michael’s repost of the video.
“Bro shocked by fresh seafood lmao,” another viewer posted.
In another video reposted by Michael, Hansen is still at the grocery store making jokes about the customers.
“We have customers in training,” Hansen says as an Asian child walks by with a kiddie cart.
“Omg,” a TikTok viewer commented under the video. “I used to watch him all the time on YouTube, but I literally stopped because any time he eats somewhere that has non American food—”
“The way he treats Asian people as props in his video to poke and make fun at,” another user said.
After the relentless criticism, Hansen issued a 6-minute apology on TikTok on May 20, titled “Sorry” with a frowning emoticon. The video is captioned, “No excuses. I am sorry. I cannot change the past, but I can change the future. I will do better. Thank you.”
“I’ll start by saying I truly regret what was released, how it was released, and I really do take responsibility, and I really apologize,” Hansen says. “The video has been removed, and I’m here again to verbalize and to ensure that nothing like this happens again. The video was absolutely clickbait-y, marketed, edited, and created for shock value. With my layers of privilege, I did not identify really with how this video was.”
Hansen implies that he was unaware of how the video was being edited and marketed, but that he still takes responsibility for its production. Then, Hansen tries to downplay his reactions to the supermarket.
“I never spoke the words ‘weird,’ ‘gross.’ I just kind of wanted to show items that you normally can’t acquire in a North American grocery store,” he says in the apology video. (For the record: T&T is the largest Asian grocery store chain in Canada with nearly 30 locations.)
The Daily Beast was unable to reach T&T Supermarket for comment.
“I cannot understand the challenges being faced by another culture,” Hansen continues. “I’ve always appreciated and respected other cultures. I’ve advocated for the acceptance of others and am really, eternally, grateful for their acceptance of me. I am an ally, and this is something I deeply regret, I shouldn’t have done.”
Regardless of Hansen’s lengthy mea culpa, some TikTok viewers doubted the authenticity of his apology.
“Go to the store and apologize,” someone commented under the apology video.
“Where are the tears?” asked another.
“Thanks for doing the bare minimum,” a user added.
Along with TikTok videos, Hansen publishes content on YouTube, where he’s notorious for eating items that are deemed massive and challenging. According to his page, he claims to be “a food influencer and competitive eater specializing in large food adventures, food challenges, eating contests, and restaurant promotions.” Hansen has over 450,000 subscribers, and some of his more popular videos have gained over a million views.
Hansen did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Source: The Daily Beast.