Thursday, September 3, 2009

complain about 'racism' against white people

This is a guest post for swpd by fromthetropics, who writes about herself, "I am mixed cultured, and always feel in-between -- both here and there, but neither fully here nor there."


Cardboard versions of "Mr. James" currently occupy every McDonald's in Japan


McDonald's new mascot in Japan, a geeky white American named Mr. James, who speaks broken, foreign-sounding Japanese, has ruffled the feathers of some foreign-born (white) residents there. They feel that Mr. James is a racist caricature, and that he therefore constitutes another example of Japanese discrimination against people like themselves.




A human rights group in Japan named FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) has angrily written to McDonald's,

We wish to bring to your attention a sales campaign launched this month by McDonald’s Japan that we find extremely problematic.

The “Mr. James” character, representing the “Nippon All Stars” hamburger campaign, features a spectacled Caucasian narrating his love for Japan and Japan’s version of McDonald’s’ hamburgers. Our association finds the following things problematic:

* 1) The character speaks broken accented Japanese (using the katakana script, one used for foreign loanwords). The impression given is that Caucasians cannot speak Japanese properly, which is simply not true for the vast numbers of non-native (and Japanese-native) foreigners in Japan.

* 2) The character is called “Mr. James” (again, in katakana), promoting the stereotype that foreigners must be called by their first names only (standard Japanese etiquette demands that adults be called “last name plus -san”), undoing progress we have made for equal treatment under Japanese societal rules.

* 3) The image used, of a clumsy sycophantic “nerd” for this Caucasian customer, is embarrassing to Caucasians who will have to live in Japan under this image.

To illustrate the issue more clearly, would McDonald’s USA (or McDonald’s in any other country, for that matter) choose to promote, for example, a new rice dish with a “ching-chong Chinaman” saying, “Me likee McFlied Lice!”? Of course not.

Likewise, we do not think these attitudes perpetuating stereotypes of ethnic minorities within their respective societies should be promoted anywhere by a multinational corporation with the influence of McDonald’s. We ask that McDonald’s Headquarters review McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” Campaign and have it discontinued immediately.



My response, especially to the last point is: "Really?"

I often see ads like that airing in Australia without significant or even noticeable protest. The primary difference is that the stereotypes are about non-whites. And really, since when did Caucasians corner the market on the nerd stereotype? A lot of nerds are also portrayed as Asian Americans, and African Americans. Urkel, anyone? William Hung? Stevie, from Malcolm in the Middle?

I also find the outrage over the McDonald's 'Mr. James' caricature misplaced not only because the rest of us have had to put up with media-generated stereotyping for years and years, but also because most ads in Japan that feature Caucasians usually depict them in a highly positive light, as the central god or goddess-like icon of the commercial. Japanese companies routinely pay large amounts of money to top Hollywood stars for commercial appearances that portray them in very flattering ways. This fact makes the complaints about one such stereotyping a bit...well, petty.

How often do people who look Japanese get depicted in a positive light in U.S. ads? And did any of the foreign-born in Japan protest when a Japanese English school perpetuated the stereotype of native speakers of English as blue-eyed blonds like Cameron Diaz?




What’s that? This is harmless, you say? Tell that to the Asian Americans who speak nothing but English and still get passed over for an English teaching job in Japan because the school preferred, say, a blond German who speaks English as a second or third language.

The problem, you see, is not so much that one negative caricature harms the image in Japan of white people. The real problem is that the media-generated image of white people there, as in most of Asia, is already a stereotype -- an enormously positive one. It's an image of adored perfection, created by a barrage of thousands of ads like this caressing portrayal of Cameron Diaz (who, despite her last name, undoubtedly comes across in Japan as another white goddess).

One portrayal of a geeky white guy named Mr. James is not going to put a dent in the generally positive image of white people created by Japanese media. In fact, I wonder why FRANCA and other white residents of Japan don't complain about the other, seemingly positive images of themselves. Don't those images end up creating an even more unrealistic image of white people, one that is very difficult for most white people to live up to?

These complaints about Mr. James also sound hypocritical when the West is made out to be doing a much better job of not presenting stereotyped images of their migrant population. Whatever. You just don’t notice it when it’s being done to someone else. When Westerners go to Asia and complain about ‘racism’, the implied argument is that the West is more enlightened, civilized, and advanced because ‘it just wouldn’t happen back home’. And Asia is backwards, so we need to ‘educate’ them.

For example, white students who come back to Australia after finishing an exchange program in Japan complain about minor inconveniences there; that leaves me thinking, ‘You’re complaining about that?’ One such student told a Japanese lecturer to go watch Lost in Translation because it oh-so-perfectly describes what it's like living in Japan as a foreigner, as though she had just endured the most difficult thing at the hands of these Japanese beings.

I heard about this. So I went and watched that movie, wondering what in the world the student meant. After watching it, my conclusion was: I don't need to watch this movie to know how that feels -- its portrayal of life as an outsider in a foreign country is the story of my life. And it's a much milder version of the story of many migrant lives.

Obviously, life in a foreign country is hard and everyone deserves to be cared for. But it's hard to sympathize when white residents of Japan frame it as, 'Oh-my-gosh, the Japanese people are sooo [insert negative adjective], and oh-my-gosh, our struggles are oh-so-unique and difficult.' It’s hard to sympathize when they have little understanding of how many more foreigners, migrants, and POCs in their own country go through it too, often in much harder circumstances. Tell me your experience and I’ll empathize, but don’t try to ‘educate’ me about it because I already know.

But of course, over in the West the blame falls on POCs if we fail to assimilate. In Asia, if Westerners don’t feel comfortable, the blame falls on the host society…POCs can never win the argument, it seems.

Then there are the white folks who come back complaining about how the Japanese term 'gaijin' (foreigner) is derogatory. When someone tries to ‘educate’ me on this, it's an automatic give away that they have a superficial understanding of Japan. 'Gaijin' sounds awfully rude in Chinese due to the Chinese characters it uses. It means 'outsider' in Chinese. And the Chinese in Japan do have a hard time in Japan (considering their disadvantaged status in terms of power relations as defined by the current global economic structure), so it’s understandable if they get upset at it.

However, it makes little sense for Westerners to get upset about it. In Japan, 'gaijin' is used as a short form for the more formal 'gaikokujin' (person from a foreign country). And 'gaijin' is often synonymous with ‘white person’ (and all the positive images that come with being white) and is rarely used as a derogatory term in Japan, especially not when referring to white people. It has a completely different meaning from how it sounds in Chinese, even though they use the same characters.

The same goes for the word 'bule' in Indonesian. It means 'faded' and is used to refer to white people. But again, it is rarely used in a derogatory way. 'Bule', or ‘white person’, carries positive connotations, thanks to all the white-worshiping that Asia is so very good at.

I find that some white people who know how power relations work never complain about these things. They know that the general Asian image of them is not derogatory. But as the crocodile tears shed over McDonald's Japan's Mr. James mascot demonstrate, those who don't know how power relations work seem to bite deeply the first chance they get. They do so, in my jaded opinion, because for once they get to be the ones who cry, 'That's racist!'


See also:

Disgracian: "In McDonald's New Japanese Ad Campaign, The Wacky Foreigner Joke's on Americans" (reposted at Racialicious) & "We Don't Care about White People"

(Coco Masters) Time: "Not Everyone Is Lovin' Japan's New McDonald's Mascot"

Japan Probe: "Mr. James: McDonald’s Japan has a gaijin clown"

Jeff Yang (San Francisco Chronicle): "McRacism in Japan"

The official blog of Mr. James

78 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to disagree with you, at least in part.

    First of all, isn't the idea to rid the world of ALL of these types of images/representations?

    Second, how do you know that members of that group aren't working toward that goal? Why do you even assume they're all white?

    Third, I have Arab and black friends who live in Japan, who report similar frustration toward some of the things you mentioned. By your account, are they somehow more justified?

    It sounds like you have some misplaced anger toward white people. I don't disagree that most images of Caucasians in Asia are positive (though certainly unrepresentative!), so I see your point there; but as someone who also knows the frustration of trying as hard as I can to assimilate into another society and never totally feeling accepted, well...I think that's a fair point.

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  2. I agree with this post.

    Japanese culture, as a whole, is not so much racist but xenophobic.

    It seems white people are more welcomed than any other group in Japan, even moreso than Japanese-Brazilian immigrants (Nisei), who are often full blooded Japanese but whose first language is Brazilian-Portuguese.

    So yeah, white folks shouldn't take offense at this.

    It's kind of like Southpark (Or rather, how people describe Southpark) everyone's a target (Although that's arguable).

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  3. This actually reminds me of my dad. He likes to watch tv and then bitch about how the white guys in commercials are ALWAYS portrayed as dumb and clumsy, while the minorities (apparently it's only an issue with male representation with him, because he enver goes into the terrible stereotypes associated with women in commercials -_-) are usually looking on the white dude's stupidity, being more responsible and level headed. Every time I'm like "Really dad? Really?" 'Cause those are the ONLY representations of white dudes in commercials or on all of TV ever? Plus, usually the dumb white dude is somehow in a station of power in the commercial over everyone else (for example a boss or a coach. this is just my general observations, I tend to not watch alot of commercials since I can fastforward through them) so usually while the white dude is being "ridiculed" he is still in a higher station and getting waited upon or helped by others (women or minorities or other white dudes). So really? Are a few doofy white dudes gonna completely off set the representation of white dudes on all the other billion channels on tv? I don't think so.

    And yet, he still plays the victim. *sigh*

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  4. im asian and im uncomfortable with the mr james ad. Something along the lines of "2 wrongs dont make a right". If its wrong, lets just not go there. Lets not make concesssions, exceptions etc... its a slippery slope.
    I may get passed over for jobs, I may be a victim of covert racism by white or other people who do not look like me (racists come in all forms) but I wouldnt wish such treatment on them either.

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  5. Didn't we just learn the definition of racism? Prejudice + institutional power? In Japan, I'll remind you, most of the people are Japanese. They have the power. To depict other races in a stereotypical and derogatory way (whether they're white or not) is racist.
    These "god-like" images of white people in Japan that you mention, DO hurt the image of white people in Japan. They continue to ingrain the notion that if you look white you're not Japanese. Imagine living in Japan most of your life, being fluent in the language, becoming a naturalized citizen, but still having to face people everyday who ignorantly assume you can't possibly be from Japan because of the color of your skin.
    It gets tiring having people speak to you in English automatically, stare at you outside of big cities, assume you can't work as well as a Japanese person, never let you inside to be their friend because they'll never accept you for the color of your skin.
    Racism in Japan is exclusion of others. While on the outside this may seem really great, (white people in Japan are idealized!), they'll never bother to get to know the real you because you're an idol to them and not a real human being. Not to mention the other negative stereotypes that MANY people have about white people in Japan that for some reason you're glossing over (represented pretty well by the McDonald's campaign).
    White people in Japan just want to be treated like everyone else, and it's ignorant of you to assume that it's easier for them just because they're white.
    There's the stereotype of the "smart Asian" in America... does that make it easier for Asians there?

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  6. way to miss the forest for the trees

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  7. don't ask me where I'm fromSeptember 3, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    Great article, thanks for posting it I appreciated and enjoyed reading it. Having not lived in Japan or anywhere else in Asia for over 20 years I'm not really able to comment as I don't have a good understanding of the media or culture. I don't think you have "some misplaced anger toward white people". If you are angry towards white people, it's not misplaced and from what you have experienced first hand you have reason to be angry. Keep writing, I'd like to read more of what you have to say.

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  8. "Imagine living in Japan most of your life, being fluent in the language, becoming a naturalized citizen, but still having to face people everyday who ignorantly assume you can't possibly be from Japan because of the color of your skin."

    Tomato, I think the point is that many people of color in the US don't have to imagine it, because we live it every day. Unlike the OP, I do think that the people speaking out against this character have a valid complaint, but they really discredit themselves when they use the "this would never happen to people of color in the US" argument, because it makes it so blatantly obvious that it only matters when it happens to them.

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  9. Wow, so they are upset about being portrayed as nerdy? Really? I'd give anything to have that portrayal rather than the sassy, angry Jezebel.

    Buy stock in Kleenex. It's hard for me to feel sympathy for something that can be attributed to anyone (i.e., nerdiness).

    Jillian, the anger isn't misplaced at all. It's justified.

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  10. I don't think this campaign is okay, because two wrongs don't make a right. But yes, American advertising (including McDonald's) has been racist for as long as there have been advertisements. It's amazing how many WP don't notice racism until it's turned against them.

    I also share the opinion that Lost In Translation was a pretentious movie that made nothing but the most obvious points, and was really only remarkable to WP who have never experienced the slightest degree of alienation because they've spent their entire lives surrounded by privilege.

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  11. hmm, i'll ask this, what are these folks doing when non-white foreigners are portrayed horribly in japan? what steps are they taking for the ainu? the chinese? the korean japanese? if they're silent then, then stfu now.

    this debito dude is a joke and is lucky that no one has seriously confronted him on comparing gaijin to n***** or this mr. james to stepin fetchit. it wreaks of privilege.

    i'm not one of those that thinks we should give asia or europe or latin america a pass or cut them some slack, which people often times do, but this is some bs.

    i wonder if any of those white folks in japan complaining petitioned to have the little sambo doll back in circulation in japan

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  12. Those silly white people. They're always so quick to call "racism," such thin skins, so paranoid, sheesh, will they ever just lighten up?

    If they weren't so darn ignorant they would realize that the Japanese weren't being racist at all. The "goofy nerdy white guy" image is just a meaningless image that Japanese happen to enjoy - they don't mean nuthin by it, really. So relax, will ya?

    And then look at all these positive ads over here - you know, the ones where white people are singing and dancing. See? Such petty whiners.

    And to hear them complain, when we know all about the terrible ways that they treated their own people back in Africa... er, I mean, America... such hypocrites.


    --- Surely this post is meant as satire?

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  13. honeybrown1976,

    Perhaps that was worded wrong. But, my comments still stand - the ASSUMPTION that the complainants were all white or that only white people in Japan would be frustrated in this instance.

    I get anger at white people. But I don't think white people's behavior gives others (especially outside of countries where the institutional power is in white hands) a free pass, either. Fighting for justice means fighting for justice in ALL contexts.

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  14. Jillian,

    I get the gist of what you are discussing. However, I think for most whites to truly "get it", they'd have to feel what others feel on a daily basis. It has been my observation that many (not all) societal events have occurred when whites have been on the receiving end of troubles or forced their hand (e.g. school violence and the eroding of it as a major educational topic now).

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  15. This was discussed on Racialicious. I'll just repeat what I said there. To my way of thinking, the only way this would be 'racist' is if a group of European-featured non-elite Japanese citizens found it so.

    If European-featured Japanese kids (actual Japanese citizens with nowhere else to call 'home') were getting teased in the playground, say, on the basis of this ad, then I think that would be a fair parallel to racist depictions of East and South Asians in the West.
    But if its only ex-pat Westerners who are getting in a huff about it, then, no, that's not racism, its just very mildly annoying, to which the correct response would be to sigh and say 'yeah yeah, very funny'.

    But a poster on Racialicious (not me but it was a good point so I'll repeat it) did make the very good point that this ad might not be about mocking white people so much as mocking 'foreigners' in general. In which case maybe there are good grounds to object to it, as if that's the case the subtext is it implicitly includes _all_ foreigners, not just the powerful white ones.

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  16. Tomato said:

    "These "god-like" images of white people in Japan that you mention, DO hurt the image of white people in Japan. They continue to ingrain the notion that if you look white you're not Japanese. Imagine living in Japan most of your life, being fluent in the language, becoming a naturalized citizen, but still having to face people everyday who ignorantly assume you can't possibly be from Japan because of the color of your skin.
    It gets tiring having people speak to you in English automatically, stare at you outside of big cities, assume you can't work as well as a Japanese person, never let you inside to be their friend because they'll never accept you for the color of your skin."

    --------

    Tomato, if you were talking about the US this would ring true. But if you are white, you are not Japanese.

    Japan has had isolationist policies until relatively recently (19th century) and goes through a lot of trouble to maintain its own culture, much like France does. It's not racism, it's preserving their cultural identity, and race does play a part in that. All this can sometimes seem xenophobic at times, and it does suck if you are simply a white person in Japan who is visiting and is kicked out of a store simply because they are white (and it has happened to someone I know).

    Mr James seems to me like an attempt to poke fun at Westerners who are often attracted to Japanese culture (Or the exoticized Orientalism in their heads) and think they can go to Japan and become Japanese like Tom Cruise did.
    It just so happens most of these Westerners are huge anime nerds.

    They are basically taking a lesson from every other country that has come in touch with white people and lost part of its culture.

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  17. reverse racism (racism against whites) does not exist any more than reverse-sexism ("misandry") exists. its a stupid word game, where white men invert existing terms, intending to obfuscate the power structures that give them all the power, allowing white men to pretend that they are victims, instead of perpetrators and beneficiaries of both racism and sexism.

    in reality, men have nothing to lose from "misandry" just like whites lose nothing due to "reverse racism." but whites and men have everything to gain from both racism and sexism proper. i wrote an article addressing the misandry "problem". thanks for your article.

    http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/no-such-thing-as-misandry/

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  18. @ai

    I don't buy your argument _at all_. It sounds _exactly_ like the sort of thing the BNP say. Your reference to 'a white person' unnecessarily confuses the issue. Are you saying it would be equally fine for a black person or a Chinese person to be kicked out of a store in Japan then?

    "Race does play a part in that". So the idea that race and culture are linked, that a black person, say, can never be Japanese, isn't, in your view, 'racist'? Exactly the sort of thing the BNP say about how black people can never be English.

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  19. "To my way of thinking, the only way this would be 'racist' is if a group of European-featured non-elite Japanese citizens found it so. [etc]..."

    @Blue: I'm not sure I follow this thinking. If the kids are getting teased then it is racism but if the kids' peers leave them alone then it's not? Does that mean that if the advertisers luck out and no one gets teased, then the ends justified the means? If I am not personally offended then I can't actually know if something is racist until someone else (who meets certain criteria) cries foul? I'm White; does that mean I can't find Rush Limbaugh offensive or call him a racist when I hear his latest BS? It seems to me that if a particular definition (which is still being debated in the previous blog post) applies, then anyone who notices ought to be able to call it out. Otherwise racist jokes around the water cooler would continue unchecked because every employee is White.

    I do however wonder if the folks complaining about this ad (who I am picturing as all middle-aged, mostly American, middle-class businessmen) might not have better things to do. Writing letters of protest in solidarity with women in Thailand to Japanese travel agencies who promote the sex industry (for example) seems like an excellent use of their time by comparison.

    "and think they can go to Japan and become Japanese like Tom Cruise did."

    @al: Funny, Kevin Costner thought he was Lakota for a while until people finally told him the movie was finished so go away!

    Thanks for this post, fromthetropics!

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  20. @Lutsen

    I'm saying I don't really know how this plays out in Japan, not being familiar with the country. I don't know if there exist white Japanese who are not ex-pats, who were raised there, and don't have a home other than Japan, and I don't know if such people suffer racism from their peers (or whether they get some sort of respect as a result of the _international_ dominance of white people).

    If such folk exist, then I'd have to listen to them to decide what the significance of this ad is, I don't have sufficient knowledge to work out for myself what effect it would have on such a group.

    You can complain about Rush because I suspect, as a person who's lived in the US (or at least the West) you have read enough, seen enough, and heard enough about the situation and history of POC in the US to have at least some idea what is and what isn't racism. I have no such knowledge about native-born white people in Japan (I don't even know if they exist).

    That definition you mention is relevant, because the point is I don't know if there are a group of white people in Japan that the Japanese have power over in a meaningful sense.

    Actually, having said that, come to think of it, I did once know a mixed Japanese-English woman who had been raised in Japan by her Japanese parent and did indeed suffer bullying as a result of not being 'properly' Japanese. Of course she had the option to go to her Western parent's country as an adult and endure the 'normal' kind of racism instead, but I imagine it could be rough for those who don't even have that option.

    But again, I don't know if this ad would play into that issue or not, I don't know if Japanese people perceive it as being about physical 'race' or only about foreignness, for example.


    PS I posted anonymously before and the system chose the label 'blue'. I'm not doing that again in case it chooses a word that might be taken the wrong way in the context.

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  21. A friend and myself had to stop taking a white friend to Nigerian celebrations. She just didn't enjoy being the only white person there. It was quite offensive considering how many family picnics we accompanied her to.

    Mr. James is ridiculous, but what's interesting is how we assume this letter represents an entire groups sentiments. My guess is that there are some white people overseas who don't care either way. While this situation might be comparative, it in no way reflects the history and sentiment of POCs around the world; nor does it acknowledge that POC do write and complain about these campaigns.

    The real test will be if and when McDonalds decides to ditch the ad. IN the presence of popularity amongst Japanese citizens, will McDonalds be willing to throw away good money, or will they continue their ad with a few minor adjustments? Within those parameters I think we can discuss white privilege. All else fails, they can always go back to the "Calvin" ads, because everyone loved those.

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  22. p said:

    "I don't buy your argument _at all_. It sounds _exactly_ like the sort of thing the BNP say. Your reference to 'a white person'
    unnecessarily confuses the issue. Are you saying it would be equally fine for a black person or a Chinese person to be kicked out of a store in Japan then?"

    It does confuse the issue, I brought up that example cause the person I know whom had that happen to them is white. Like I said in a previous post, it's more of a xenophobic attitude so had the person been Black or Chinese probably would have been kicked out to. It could be that the store in question was ran by particularly close-minded folk.

    "Race does play a part in that". So the idea that race and culture are linked, that a black person, say, can never be Japanese, isn't, in your view, 'racist'? Exactly the sort of thing the BNP say about how black people can never be English.

    I was replying to a post by tomato regarding naturalization, not being born in Japan.

    Japan and England and have differing histories. Japan has always been relatively isolationist, while England didn't really leave some people a lot of choice regarding whether they wanted assimilation or not, since it was a colonial power.

    In other words, Japan doesn't like foreigners, not even Japanese-Brazilians.

    The other country, England, didn't leave the foreigners any choice as to whether they wanted to become English or not. Therefore, they are English.

    While I think it is great to have countries with very open immigration policies where anyone could become and be recognized as the nationality of their choosing, I also think it's important to realize that in many cases ethnicity and culture do go hand in hand, and it is important not to completely divorce them from each other. This applies to all cultures.

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  23. It's interesting reading the different views here. To be fair, Debito (according to wiki) is a naturalized Japanese citizen and has two daughters with a Japanese woman. Apparently one girl looks Japanese, the other looks 'foreign'. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debito_Arudou) The number of Japanese citizens who are not (fully) ethnically Japanese are increasing and I do believe that Japan is going to have to start accepting a 'multicultural Japan' as hard as that may be.

    And yes, they have xenophobic or exclusionary tendencies. I was on the receiving end of that when I lived there as a kid. It's an intense group mentality that even ethnic Japanese struggle with at times, but of course it affects non-fully ethnic Japanese a lot more. And yes, there is racism there, particularly towards the non-white minority population. Yes, I think this needs to change.

    So why am I angry at the complaints white people make then? I'm angry at the hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance behind them. I'll repeat it here since some readers missed it. (Btw, non-white Westerners are also capable of doing many of these and thus speak condescendingly about non-Western countries.):

    a) "This would never happen in [name of Western country]." (Problem: i)Complete blindness to what happens in the West. ii) Implies that the West is civilized, and Others are backwards.)
    b) "So let us 'educate' you."
    c) Drawing unequal parallels (eg. 'gaijin' and 'n-----')
    d) Having little understanding of what goes on in Japan. (e.g. Interpretation of the words gaijin & bule. And complaining about being called by first names...Well, in Japan the 'first name' IS the surname. Doh!)
    e) Turning a blind eye when positive stereotyping occurs. (Ads like the one with Cameron Diaz probably does just as much damage in 'Othering' Caucasian looking people as Tomato said. But I have yet to hear about any formal complaints made about them. If you have, let me know.)
    f) Having little understanding of how power relations work on a global scale.

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  24. The power structure that whites have created all over the world continues to benefit them monetarily, but as the world gets "smaller" and they try to engender themselves to various cultures and countries, they are blind to the fact that their efforts are often still viewed as imperialistic or in some way dastardly. It is obvious many American men have gone to Japan looking for an eroticized Japanese bride or in some ways chasing an exotic ideal. This is part of the mainstream white mentality that sees all else as "other". Sometimes "other" is interesting, sometimes dangerous, and sometimes sexy. Though not all "Westerners" (code for white people) are perverse in their attraction. . .they have a pretty bad track record.

    This reminds me of Macon's post .. "Travel to Exotic Locations, Meet Adorable Children, and Shoot Them"
    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/07/travel-to-exotic-locations-meet.html

    and one of my personal favorites "Believe Others Consider Them Trustworthy" http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/06/believe-others-consider-them.html

    Really these are a great start to understanding the NEGATIVE attitudes that lead to the Mr. James character. Honestly, I am surprised if not a little but impressed with the Japanese. With what the Western media portrays of the Japanese and Asians in general, I thought they adored the western image and all it stood for.

    For those whites who go to Japan seeking to become "real Japanese" or feel that they already are. I must say that attitude in itself, stinks of privilege and in essence is proof that they are not and will never understand the "real Japanese".

    I'm African, that is my cultural identity and I’ll most likely never be able to be part of any culture outside blackness. I can read and explore other cultures, languages and art but I may never truly posses them and what RIGHT do I have to? If I am accepted as say . . . a Bengali, it is a privilege bestowed upon me by Bengalis and I would accept it in humility and gratefulness. What SOME whites are experiencing is a feeling that they have no culture, or disconnectedness with their “Europeaness”. However, this is a consequence of the white individualist and white norm mentality; the idea that whiteness doesn’t even exist, that they just ARE. Some may envy the togetherness and somewhat solidarity of POC and seek it in immersing themselves in “other” (in both senses of the word) cultures. If accepted, YAY, if not then maybe they are closer to TRULY understanding the life of a POC than they ever were before.

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  25. ps. Here's an interesting site about the changing face of 'Japaneseness':: http://www.mixroots.jp/engdex.htm

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  26. When I read this post the first thing that popped in my head was "really? McDonalds?" To claim that this is incredibly racist and offensive towards white foreigners is just ridiculous esp when it's MCDONALDS you're complaining about.
    It's not even a Japanese company thats profiting off of this ad campaign, no, it's what I see as one of the most All-(White) American corporations in existence today. It kind of goes back to the earlier post about racism=power + prejudice, only it's worse in a way because it's an institutional power (American, not Japanese) that's benefiting from this supposed racism.

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  27. What I find strange is that a peep is never heard when the 'white god' like stereotype is being employed for advertisement in Japan and other Asian countries which seemingly worships white people. However, when a goofy character is being used all h**l breaks loose. I agree with fromthetropics when she says that the white folk finally get to cry racism!
    Speaking of stereotypes have any of you seen the performers who sing/act in black face like the Gosperats? go to;youtube;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00RWEJY3YG4&feature=PlayList&p=F932E140600FE7E3&index=0&playnext=1. or;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlGCtzLZnoE. Now this is a modern day stereotype if ever one existed. This goofy nerd character doesn't compare. It's usually the Asian man who who is portrayed in this stereotypical mode. If the character had been portrayed as a tall handsome hunk, you wouldn't be hearing this uproar as this is how the white men are usually portrayed from what I have seen and read. I've read other articles from this Arudou Debito and for the most part he complains incessantly about the travails of white people in Japan. There is a racialized hierarchy in Japan with blacks on the bottom. If he really wants to fight against racism, he should move back to the States and help the racialized people there and raise a ruckus whenever stereotypical ads, racist commentators and systemic racism and the like occurs. He's probably outraged that as a white man he is not given his 'due'. I get the sense that the white people complaining about this are outraged at the fact that the Japanese advertisers had the gall to come up with this character. Funny you don't see these same people up in arms when this occurs in their own backyard to racialized people in their own country. Since WWII they(British, American) have been promoting the "white is right" philosophy in Asia, that they are the epitome of beauty and perfection, superiority etc.. They did their work well. Now with this commercial which goes against the grain, the hue and cry is disproportionate to the offense itself. There's an old saying;'bottom rails on top', get over it.

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  28. BlkSmarTee

    I loved your post and felt it touched on the root of this debate.

    I am personally a 1st generation immigrant living in the US. Half-Venezuelan, Half-Argentine.

    I have lived here long enough to prefer English (I think in English), but not long enough to not have an accent.

    I personally feel South American, regardless of how Americanized I have become. I don't feel like I should be entitled to be perceived otherwise, I don't mind when people ask me where I'm from because of my accent, thinking I'm a foreigner, cause I am a foreigner. (I do mind when people greet me in Spanish with this look in their face, as if I can't speak English, then I just surprise them and it makes me smile with glee).

    That mindset would be different were I to have children in this country, and I can only hope they are accepted as Americans and not thought of as perpetual foreigners.

    I agree with fromthetropics in that regard. While I think Japan is somewhat justified in their xenophobia, they are gonna need to be able to accommodate a broader definition of the term Japanese pretty soon. I think what is in question here is their reluctance to separate Japanese nationality and culture from Japanese ethnicity.

    I have mixed feelings regarding this because it could either better or worsen Japan.

    For some cultures, a strong connection between culture and ethnicity is often crucial to the culture's survival. Assimilation into that culture might risk it being lost and/or consumed.

    The question is if all the trouble Japan goes through to keep themselves "Japanese" is warranted?
    Can they afford to more inclusionary without losing what makes them Japanese?

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  29. blue (who is also p).September 3, 2009 at 10:30 PM

    @ai

    I'm not that clear on what you are saying.

    "Ethnicity and culture" may go hand-in-hand, but do _race_ and culture necessarily do so? That's what I just can't agree with. That way lies Apartheid, and checking DNA to see which community you should be assigned to. If that wasn't what you originally meant then we don't disagree.

    The only context in which I guess race and culture do sort of go together is when 'an experience of racism' is arguably part of the defining characteristics of the culture.

    So a white person, I think its fair to say, can't truly have African-American culture, because they haven't experienced that form of racism. But that doesn't apply in this context.

    I agree the emphasis on _white_ people becoming Japanese muddies the waters, because of all the issues of white entitlment and privilege it raises, but the general principle would apply to all non-racially-Japanese, white or not.

    And Japan had an Empire every bit as brutal as Britain's, it was just less successful in the end. But is the issue empire, or the importing of a labour force (which Britain did and Japan may soon need to do?). I'm not sure myself now. Maybe its the combination of the two.

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  30. Oh please....one slightly negative ad out of how many featuring white people in Japan? I am fair to mostly certain that it will have little to no impact on the treatment of white people living in Japan. I can sympathize a tiny bit that it is not pleasant to be mocked because of your origins, but get over it, especially since you probably come from a country that does its fair share of mocking foreigners in the media.

    Now if this protest was part of an ongoing campaign to address the images/treatment of all non-Japanese, especially Koreans (some Koreans have been in Japan for over 100 yrs and are not considered full citizens), I could support them. But this seems to be a case of, "Hey were are white! You can't make fun of us!" whining

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  31. Actually, I do think this is an offensive stereotype. But it's not so much "spot the racism" as "miss the point".

    It's pretty natural for people who live under an overlord to belittle and make jokes about the over lord to reduce their power and/or make it easier to bear. That's not just a colour issue. My (white) people in Hungary did it constantly to the (white) Russians who had control.

    For some Indigenous Australian people, the word for 'white person' is goonya, which is the same word for shit. No coincidence, and given the circumstances very understandable.

    It's pretty easy to say that by weight of numbers Japanese are the majority in Japan, and are therefore not supposed to ridicule white people. But this ignores the global reality for Japanese people. I was told by a Japanese friend recently that "Japan is America's dog", and that's not restricted to politics.

    'White' is still considered an ideal standard of beauty (not just in Japan but many Asian countries), and so almost every beauty product from soap to moisturiser contains bleaching products. My Asian friends were horrified at the tans they aquired in Australia; it was only asking why that illuminated me on the extent of the 'white is good' mentality over there.

    Any piece of ridicule that breaks down the power of the "white = attractive and desirable" in Japan is a good thing in my opinion.

    This post has been really illuminating to me for another reason; I finally understand what the point of Lost in translation was! I guess the reason I never saw it before is that I went into the movie assuming that life as a foreigner in a foreign country is difficult and fraught with misunderstandings. So I was looking for a point beyond that, but didn't find one.

    And to those people saying how tiresome it is to be a white person in Japan and have people assume you don't speak Japanese: stfu. It's a fair assumption when the majority of white people in Japan are tourists, and the majority of people outside Japan don't speak Japanese. Do you want them to assume that all white people speak fluent Japanese or do you want Japanese people to read your mind and know that you do? Either is preposterous, so build a bridge and get over it.

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  32. I think that most importantly we need to validate the experiences of others, no matter how much the Mr. James image rings of what goes around comes around.

    BTW I am a black woman.

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  33. fromthetropics, I don't think this Debito guy assumed that racist caricatures wouldn't appear at all, ever, in a Western country. I'm pretty sure he made the comparison between Mr. James and the ching-chong-Chinaman as an appeal to the more liberal sensibilities of the white American McDonald's executives. As in, "This is an offensive racist caricature which you would be wrong to display, right? Well so is this other thing." He phrased it the way he did because there is a taboo among white people against admitting racism. It's more, "You're not racists, are you? Because only racists think racial stereotypes are okay," rather than "I sincerely believe that McDonald's would never exhibit racism against POC." It's a politely worded conversational trap for McDonald's, not a denial of racism against POC in the West.

    BlkSmarTree, that was a very interesting post. It seems to me that by your reasoning, Hispanics should just learn English already and South Asians shouldn't expect to be allowed to play the bagpipes in Scottish cultural festivals. I would be interested to know whether this is in fact your opinion, or if you believe whites and POC should be held to different standards.

    In a similar vein,
    fromthetropics said, "But of course, over in the West the blame falls on POCs if we fail to assimilate. In Asia, if Westerners don’t feel comfortable, the blame falls on the host society…POCs can never win the argument, it seems."

    You could just as easily say that over in the West, POC complain about being asked to assimilate, but then turn around and tell white dudes in Japan to just stfu about the xenophobia.


    cinnamon girl, two points.

    1. "It's pretty easy to say that by weight of numbers Japanese are the majority in Japan, and are therefore not supposed to ridicule white people. But this ignores the global reality for Japanese people."

    Yes, and by pointing to the global reality you are ignoring Arudou Debito's personal reality. Just because the Japanese as a people have experienced racism at the hands of white-controlled businesses and governments doesn't mean white people in Japan aren't experiencing racial discrimination, or that such discrimination is somehow okay. Racism happens on a lot of different levels, and I'm pretty sure none of it is okay.

    2. So obviously black people who get stopped by the police in mostly-white neighborhoods in the US should just stfu because after all, how would the police know they actually live there when everyone else there is white?


    I also think it's bullshit, frankly, to expect the man to take on the causes of Koreans or Ainu in Japan (although they seem like natural allies), or anyone else, for that matter. People generally fight their own fights. Why aren't black people from Hungary advocating for the Koreans in Japan? Why aren't the parents of cancer victims fundraising for those afflicted by heart disease? Come on.


    I think there are many cries of racism coming from white people that deserve all kinds of ridicule - Rush Limbaugh calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist, for example - but this seems like a fairly reasonable complaint to me.

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  34. cinnamon girl said

    "I was told by a Japanese friend recently that "Japan is America's dog", and that's not restricted to politics."

    I think that only goes so far, its nowhere the same as the power imbalance between the US and, say, Latin America. It's more like that between the US and France or the UK.

    And as a Brit, I resent someone else claiming to be America's dog. That's our job. Though perhaps we're more like the aggressive small kid in the playground who follows the school bully around, joining in whenever he has a go at someone, while never daring to start anything ourselves?

    Seems to me that, just like for the UK, if Japan is 'America's dog', its through the choice of their own politicians and for their own self-interested reasons.

    Plus, given the history of _how_ Japan came to have the relationship it does with the US, I actually feel a bit suspicious of claims for Japanese victim-status. They remind me of Germans claiming they were the victims of WW2. In those cases there is often a refusal to acknowledge your own country's crimes. Similarly, even though I can't begin to describe how vile and pathetic I find the right-wing American trolls that seem to pop up all the time on UK websites, I find a lot of European anti-Americanism to be dishonest, as it ignores the way in which we are all part of the same imperialist 'club'.

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  35. BikSmartTee,

    Interesting comment, I would agree with a lot of what you said, but I would complain (as I have a few times recently to macon) that you are clearly talking about a particular minority subset of whites, yet are diffusing the blame, so to speak, on a whole race.

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  36. As a Chinese American, Whites will never understand what true racism really is.

    Mr. James?!?!?!

    We're lucky if that's the only thing we need to worry about.

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  37. It sounds like you have some misplaced anger toward white people. I don't disagree that most images of Caucasians in Asia are positive (though certainly unrepresentative!), so I see your point there; but as someone who also knows the frustration of trying as hard as I can to assimilate into another society and never totally feeling accepted, well...I think that's a fair point.


    Jillian, you should try assimilating into a society you have grown up and lived in all of your life and never been accepted by the mainstream. That is how black americans, some who have ancestors that have been in this country since it's inception, who have died in their wars, and who have lived amongst white people all their lives feel.


    ----------------

    It gets tiring having people speak to you in English automatically, stare at you outside of big cities, assume you can't work as well as a Japanese person, never let you inside to be their friend because they'll never accept you for the color of your skin.

    Welcome to being black in America, the only difference is, most of us didn't come her voluntarily, and most of us have no where to "go back to".

    ----------------


    Those silly white people. They're always so quick to call "racism," such thin skins, so paranoid, sheesh, will they ever just lighten up? 

If they weren't so darn ignorant they would realize that the Japanese weren't being racist at all. The "goofy nerdy white guy" image is just a meaningless image that Japanese happen to enjoy - they don't mean nuthin by it, really. So relax, will ya? 

And then look at all these positive ads over here - you know, the ones where white people are singing and dancing. See? Such petty whiners.

And to hear them complain, when we know all about the terrible ways that they treated their own people back in Africa... er, I mean, America... such hypocrites.


--- Surely this post is meant as satire?

    I loved this LOL. Perfect.

    ----------------

    Imagine living in Japan most of your life, being fluent in the language, becoming a naturalized citizen, but still having to face people everyday who ignorantly assume you can't possibly be from Japan because of the color of your skin

    Let me again reference what it is like to be black in America.

    ------------------

    I often wonder were these same people outraged at the popularity of Little Black Sambo in Japan?

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  38. Honestly, great article macon d. Rarely do Asians get represented in a favourable light whenever they're making fun of white people. The truth of the matter is this, plain and simple. "Whites" (as in those with the ability of representation) shit on us coloured people and whenever we try to fight back the way society is entrenched would just shit on us some more. What is meant by so-called exclusion is more like worship. Do you know how hard it is to survive being dark skinned and pudgy nosed? No. Because you never have to.

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  39. >I often wonder were these same people outraged at the popularity of Little Black Sambo in Japan?

    At least debito seems to have made some noise about it: http://www.debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html

    >It's a politely worded conversational trap for McDonald's, not a denial of racism against POC in the West.

    Ah, I see. After I wrote the post, I did wonder about his choice of the term 'McDonald's USA' but couldn't quite pinpoint it like you did. Point taken.

    >You could just as easily say that over in the West, POC complain about being asked to assimilate, but then turn around and tell white dudes in Japan to just stfu about the xenophobia.

    That would depend on what exactly they are complaining about and how they're going about it. So far the complaints I've heard in person have been a bit petty, made by foreigners who had no intention of living in Japan, and in a 'let me educate you' tone. (Granted, there are some more serious discrimination that others seem to be fighting.)

    >I finally understand what the point of Lost in translation was! ...So I was looking for a point beyond that, but didn't find one.

    Hahahaha. Same here. I was so annoyed that I had to experience a double dose of that feeling in one day. In my real life and from the movie. Btw, my friend said this:

    "but some people absolutely love it, as if the feeling of being othered was new and exciting...some people enjoy being othered cos A) they can leave japan and be normal again B) it's so new and strange and therefore interesting...i think thats part of the attraction of japan, u can go there and be othered in a non-threatening way..."

    I found this interesting. I'm still trying to get my head around it though.

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  40. Well, I've lived in Japan for 2 years now and I can tell you that this "Mr. James" thing pisses me off to no end. It wouldn't have pissed me off two years ago but now it has me seething. Yes, I grew up white in America. No, I did not have to suffer the discrimination that many of my fellow Americans suffer daily in their own home country. Yes, suffering such discrimination in your home country while growing up is far, far worse than what I'm dealing with here. That doesn't make the discrimination that happens here in Japan okay.

    I really don't understand why a response that boils down to, "We have it bad in America, too" justifies this McDonald's campaign. As others have said, there are far too many racist depictions in American advertising to even remotely justify the claim that American advertising isn't racist. But that doesn't void the letter writer's point that McDonald's America would find it ludicrous if someone in marketing suggested the "Ching-chong Chinaman" ad idea. And it certainly doesn't provide justification for racism in Japanese advertising.

    Racism is racism. Discrimination is discrimination. It's damaging, useless, and harmful no matter where it happens and no matter who it happens to. The poster essentially asserts the idea that Whites are an exception to this rule. And that is wrong.

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  41. ROY H

    Mr. James had you "seething"?? Did you even read the post or any of the comments? Your just type of WP that this post is about!

    SEETHING? Sound's like the post "...suffer from a privilege-induced lack of coping skills"

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/10/suffer-from-privilege-induced-lack-of.html

    If MR.JAMES had you SEETHING, count your blessings at not being a POC. All jokes aside, you might literally blow a gasket.

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  42. Well, I've lived in Japan for 2 years now and I can tell you that this "Mr. James" thing pisses me off to no end. It wouldn't have pissed me off two years ago but now it has me seething. Yes, I grew up white in America. No, I did not have to suffer the discrimination that many of my fellow Americans suffer daily in their own home country. Yes, suffering such discrimination in your home country while growing up is far, far worse than what I'm dealing with here. That doesn't make the discrimination that happens here in Japan okay.

    The reason you see a lack of sympathy is because you are outraged and "seething" now, but when you were living in the America, the likelihood of you "seething" at the daily lives of POC here probably didn't exist. Now we are all supposed to be outraged with you, when never once is this outrage vocalized here.

    You've dealt with it for 2 years, imagine doing it for a lifetime.

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  43. Is anyone gonna speak up for the nerds? Nerds are okay! Nothing all that wrong about being a nerd.

    ReplyDelete
  44. "BlkSmarTee said...

    ROY H

    Mr. James had you "seething"?? Did you even read the post or any of the comments? Your just type of WP that this post is about! "

    Who the hell are you to judge another person's feelings? Besides the fact that you should be more understanding of another person's experience that you supposedly relate to, as he pointed out, this is worse than would be experienced in the US. The examples of stereotypes in "offensive" American ads discussed on this blog have been pretty tame in comparison...

    "The reason you see a lack of sympathy"

    I sympathise;)


    is because you are outraged and "seething" now, but when you were living in the America, the likelihood of you "seething" at the daily lives of POC here probably didn't exist."

    You KNOW this of course.

    Because no white people would care at all it the "Ching-chong Chinaman" ad was used here. In fact thw white people would probably love it, and would undoubtedly call the complaining Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants paranoid.


    "Now we are all supposed to be outraged with you, when never once is this outrage vocalized here."

    Please provide examples of equivalent ads (only ads that are EQUALLY as offensive as this one please) here, like the "Ching-chong Chinaman" idea, and for which you can provide evidence of their acceptance by society, such as a successful, two-year run.

    "You've dealt with it for 2 years, imagine doing it for a lifetime."

    It's all about "revenge" on this site.

    And guilt-alleviation for certain privileged whites.

    Very productive!

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  45. sadly, his japanese accent sounds remarkably good to me. (i am a white american and attempted to learn japanese in middle school but gave it up because it was too hard.) i'd be so thankful if i could speak like that.

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  46. Isabel wrote,

    Please provide examples of equivalent ads (only ads that are EQUALLY as offensive as this one please) here, like the "Ching-chong Chinaman" idea, and for which you can provide evidence of their acceptance by society, such as a successful, two-year run.

    "EQUALLY offensive"? How about MORE offensive?

    Try these, just for starters:

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/08/contrast-white-individuality-with-non.html

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/06/perpetually-think-of-asian-americans-as.html

    http://www.angryasianman.com/2009/08/nissins-oriental-master-shows-you-way.html

    And why a "two-year run" as a standard for judging "their acceptance by society"? How about instead, the fact that virtually no Americans, besides Asian Americans, find them offensive and complain about them?

    It's all about "revenge" on this site.

    And guilt-alleviation for certain privileged whites.

    Very productive!


    What BS. Maybe in your mind, but not in those of most readers here, judging by their comments and emails. And contrary to your sarcasm, it is productive, in ways you could join, if you'd get that tired old song out of your head and stop singing it here: "Whites Got It Just As Bad As POC!"

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  47. I was all set to be embarrassed and offended by the MacDonalds commercial, but after watching it I have found it to be more funny than insulting.

    However, I really have to question the implied definition of racism. It is true that the image of Westerners in Japan has strong positive aspects to it, but I don't see how that can preclude the creation of a prejudiced advertisement. "Foreigners who are who stupid to learn how to talk our language properly" is insulting whether it is a White American decrying immigrants from Mexico or whether it is a Japanese person talking about European or American immigrants. McDonalds in Japan is in a position of power simply because it can excuse the matter by simply saying, "Ha, ha. It was a joke."

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  48. Bradley,

    If it was not an insulting ad, then I take it back. I cannot evaluate it myself but earlier people implied the equivalent would be a "Ching-chong Chinaman" ad. Was that an exaggeration.

    Macon, I read at least two of those posts. They don't seem nearly as blatant. I disagreed with at least one interpretation, as did many thoughtful comenters. Again, maybe this post is much ado about nothing, if you are comparing it to those posts.

    But I got a different impression, and yes, there does seem to be an enjoyment almost - how is it not a concern when ANYONE is badly treated.

    And stop twisting my message.

    "that tired old song out of your head and stop singing it here: "Whites Got It Just As Bad As POC!""

    This is totally disingenuous.

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  49. Isabel I appreciate your concern, but I question your logic.

    you wrote:
    this is worse than would be experienced in the US. The examples of stereotypes in "offensive" American ads discussed on this blog have been pretty tame in comparison...

    i fail to see how this depiction of white man as nerd is "worse" than would be experienced in the US.

    do you mean to say that the way whites are depicted in the mr. james campaign is "worse" than the way POC are depicted in the US?

    --------------------------------------

    you wrote:

    I read at least two of those posts. They don't seem nearly as blatant. I disagreed with at least one interpretation, as did many thoughtful comenters. Again, maybe this post is much ado about nothing, if you are comparing it to those posts.

    using comparative phrases like worse and they don't seem nearly as blatant implies distinction of one blatantly insulting act above the other, which in essence minimizes the experience of Poc in the US, and therefore nullifies your point that we should be concerned "when ANYONE is badly treated."

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  50. Hi all, I'm a new poster here so first of all hi.

    From reading the comments it seems that there are two different points being made again and again, which seem to be in conflict, when really both of them are right.

    First off, this advert certainly seems to fit the definition from the previous post of power+prejudice, which makes it 'racist'.

    Secondly, white people definitely have it much better (or perhaps that should be much less bad) than other people, particularly in the West.

    I don't see these two things as being contradictory or in conflict, and I don't think either of them needs any 'if's, 'but's or 'that-being-said's.

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  51. Isabel, I need to specify that I've only had a chance to see the two minute video which was embedded here, I'm not familiar with the rest of the ad campaign.

    In my own case, I'm in the situation of "Been there, done that (while trying to avoid it), bought the t-shirt and went home", so it's a bit embarrassing, a bit funny, and a bit confusing. The confusing part comes from trying to figure out what McDonald's intended message is. It's possible that there's more that I don't understand yet which would be a legitimate source of complaint.

    I think the "Mr. James" character is supposed to be a tourist going along with his daughter who wanted to an exchange student, and if that's the case, it certainly is an embarrassing stereotype. Maybe it would make everyone feel better if he was shown trying to improve his language skills...

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  52. @Isabel & Roy H, check these out:

    This one is very sick:
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2333772/most_racist_australian_commercial/

    And here's plenty more:
    http://www.adsavvy.org/25-most-racist-advertisements-and-commercials/

    Of the above, I don't know which ones were taken off air and which ones weren't. (And I've only watched a few, but it was enough.) But I do know that I regularly saw commercials in Australia which played on racial stereotypes. These stayed on air. Unfortunately, I can't find them on the net but here are some descriptions.

    - A white woman in a supermarket sees a black man with an 'exotic' accent and she eyes him up and down with a 'Ooooh'. (Stereotype played on: Once you go black, you can't go back. I didn't even know the existence of this stereotype until I saw the ad. Product: I can't even remember.)
    - Native Americans in feathers and what not dancing and warring in a chocolate(?) commercial. (Stereotype: Native Americans are tribal and primitive.)
    - 'Mexicans' in a sombrero and pancho as the little spices on a cracker.
    - White guy calls someone. At the other end is a ching chong chinaman in a Chinese sweatshop. (Product: Can't remember - obviously the ad wasn't effective if I can't remember it! ;)

    What I find interesting is how some white people react a lot stronger than me to things which I experience on a regular basis. e.g. Recently an Australian acquaintance in Indonesia told me how they get asked questions along the lines of, 'What do Australians think of [e.g. Muslims]?' or 'What do Australians do when...' And he found it unbelievable that he was expected to know all this and represent the opinions of all the people who happen to be from the same country. I was amused at his reaction because I get asked stuff like that regularly about countries I've hardly lived in simply because I look the part. Luckily he was just sharing his story and didn't seem condescending about Indonesians, so I just sat and listened.

    It's the same with Mr James. Strong reactions like 'seething' just shows that you've been privileged thus far, and for the first time it's being challenged. I think we both can learn a lesson from this. The lesson for me would be to laugh at the stupidity of stereotyping the next time it happens to me and not let it get to me. The one who is stupid isn't me, it's the ppl making these ads. As for the lesson for you? - You can think of that.

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  53. I specifically said US ads that were highly successful.

    I am not going to go on some detour of banned ads or Australian ads. I've seen collections of racist ads before, thank you. The desire people have on sites like this to "educate" people they don't agree with rather than respond to their arguments is irritating.

    btw how the hell does that ad say "you can't go back?" Surely you are leaving something important out there.

    Also I was possibly misled on how offensive the ad is. Initially it seemed that it was not just the nerd thing, but other (accent related, etc) ridicule. So I cannot evaluate the Japanese ad either.


    "Luckily he was just sharing his story and didn't seem condescending about Indonesians, so I just sat and listened."

    Why not share you're own story with him at this point? Instead of sitting silently and bitching about it later here?

    "It's the same with Mr James. Strong reactions like 'seething' just shows that you've been privileged thus far, and for the first time it's being challenged."

    Seems like you are making a lot of assumptions about his experience. And as for your implication that if a Ching-Chong Chinamen ad was used in the US there would be no strong reactions just a lot of head shaking and eye-rolling and shoulder-shrugging, I don't think so!

    "I think we both can learn a lesson from this. The lesson for me would be... As for the lesson for you? - You can think of that."

    Thank you Oh wise woman-from-the-tropics:)

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  54. @Isabel

    >I specifically said US ads that were highly successful.

    "Highly successful"? You mean, with a "two-year run"? Not sure where you got that, but you'll be happy to know that the Mr. James ads will only run from Aug 10 to Nov 5, less than 3 months. So you've pretty much killed your own argument there.
    http://current.com/items/90781405_mcdonalds-mascot-in-japan-not-everyone-is-lovin-mr-james.htm

    >The desire people have on sites like this to "educate" people they don't agree with rather than respond to their arguments is irritating.

    And the sites which bash Mr. James isn't?

    >btw how the hell does that ad say "you can't go back?"

    It's an expression. Like the stereotype that Asian women are submissive 'sex kittens' - they're not actually kittens are they?

    >Also I was possibly misled on how offensive the ad is. Initially it seemed that it was not just the nerd thing, but other (accent related, etc) ridicule. So I cannot evaluate the Japanese ad either.

    It is about the accent too. And the inability to speak Japanese. (Except the actor seems to be actually fluent in Japanese. See 1:05-1:14 in the above video. He stumbles badly over a sentence and then says it real fast with no problem on a mere second try at it.)

    >Why not share you're own story with him at this point? Instead of sitting silently and bitching about it later here?

    I used the word 'interesting' and 'amusing' (and I wasn't being sarcastic. I actually was very amused). How is that considered 'bitching'? I could have shared, but it would have turned into a 'let me educate you' moment considering my mood that day. He's experienced how strange it is to be asked like that, so I'd assume he won't do it to others in the future. That's the whole point isn't it?

    >Seems like you are making a lot of assumptions about his experience.

    Well, he can tell me I'm wrong if he wants to. Also, keep in mind that when I say 'privilege' here, I mean the sense of entitlement that says, 'I expect to be treated as an equal regardless of my race/origins' (as opposed to class).

    >And as for your implication that if a Ching-Chong Chinamen ad was used in the US there would be no strong reactions just a lot of head shaking and eye-rolling and shoulder-shrugging, I don't think so!

    Did you watch the Nissin ad posted by macon? I didn't find it offensive until he said, 'Eddie, from accounting.'

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  55. "
    >btw how the hell does that ad say "you can't go back?"

    It's an expression. Like the stereotype that Asian women are submissive 'sex kittens' - they're not actually kittens are they? "

    I still don't get how you are getting that from what sounded like a single incident of a white woman finding a black man attractive.

    I watched the ad - it is pretty painfully demeaning. And what's the deal with the decor?

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  56. ps. >And as for your implication that if a Ching-Chong Chinamen ad was used in the US there would be no strong reactions<

    It is strong considering how it is one ad among many others which depict white people in a highly positive ad, in contrast to how the ads in the US which stereotype pocs in a negative light are one among many others which do the same...But I've already mentioned this in my original post.

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  57. Isabel I think this post http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/09/04/why-you-tripping-about-what-i-said/
    was written for you.

    ReplyDelete
  58. >I still don't get how you are getting that from what sounded like a single incident of a white woman finding a black man attractive.

    Isabel, you're being pedantic about the semantics. If you really don’t get it, go email some friends and ask them what the stereotype is.

    And it's not about a single incident. (Especially not when I’ve seen the exact same stereotype played on in a different commercial in Australia!) It goes back all the way to the heyday of colonialism when the non-white 'Other' was depicted as sensual hypersexed beings (i.e. primitive and lack self-control). This is one aspect of what is known as ‘Orientalism’ (the other stereotypes are child-like, irrational, and feminine). Here’s what Edward Said says about it (the part about the ‘sensual’ image comes up around 5:40):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HQiHuEuuhk&feature=related

    Obviously, pocs can project this image onto white people too when they see them as the 'Other'. Hence white women complain about being approached for one night stands when overseas because Hollywood told local men that white women are ‘easy’. And the stereotypical image of white men in Asia is that they wanna use their privileged white status to sleep around with young Asian women. But I have yet to see these stereotyped images projected onto ads and the like in non-Western countries about white people as is done in that detergent ad. If you have, let me know.

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  59. While I definitely agree with some of the points made here because foreigners (especially white foreigners) in Japan are notorious for whining about how "whacked" Japan is, white privilege in Japan is actually a rather convoluted issue.
    White privilege is tied very closely to one's ability to speak English. White people who appear in commercials like your Aeon example almost always speak only English (even though most Japanese people cannot understand English) or do not speak at all in their televised appearances. Very rarely do you have white people on Japanese TV speaking in Japanese who aren't portrayed like the bumbling Mr. James... which is in fact a very common stereotype (that white people who can speak Japanese are always socially inept losers who read pick up lines out of Japanese phrase books).
    And don't get me started on white women, who may be the epitome of beauty in Asia, but (at least where I live, probably not as much in Tokyo) are often mistaken for strippers or other sex workers simply because they are both foreign and female and receive unwanted advances by Japanese men all the time.

    There is an element of truth to the whole 'god' and 'goddess' type representation, but a good deal of it is really more of an exoticization similar to the way POC are exoticized in Europe and North America. Positive representation can be just as dangerous as negative representation.

    As far as Japan is concerned, white people (as well as other foreign peoples in Japan) are there to be looked at and to gain English from. There is very little room for them to maneuver around the small bubble Japan lets them float around in. While they might not be the least privileged group in Japan (or anywhere else in the world) that doesn't make their marginalization as trivial as you seem to want to make it. Not all white people in Japan are American, know English and have another country they can hike home to if they get tired of racist attitudes towards them.

    Either way I really do wish that the kinds of white people that do the loudest complaining would take their experiences of exclusion in Japan and then use them to look at their own countries with a new set of eyes rather than just coming out saying "Japan is so crazy."

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  60. I would say, do these commercial series lead to any tangible, statistically backed up discrimination? Like, do whites in Japan get passed over for jobs more then the Japanese (etc.)?

    Because if not this just sounds like, whether racist or not, discrimination on a personal level that has no significant, institutional effects on how white people in Japan live their lives.

    It just sounds like a slightly less serious version of what Jews go through in America (because I have not heard of many hate crimes in Japan against white people). If these "racist" caricatures have no real impact, then take a joke and learn how to laugh at your own expense at something that really just isn't that big of a deal. Save your complaints for something that actually might be damaging, like the Japanese Pat Buchanan coming out with some revisionist WW2 history.

    Just cause you heard some POCs getting outraged about what you assumed to be a small, petty thing doesn't mean you should get outraged about what strongly seems to be a small, petty thing.

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  61. "
    Isabel, you're being pedantic about the semantics. If you really don’t get it, go email some friends and ask them what the stereotype is."

    I get the stereotype. I asked (twice) how the commercial illustrated it.

    It seems like you are suggesting that any depiction of a white woman being attracted to a black man is an illustration of that stereotype!

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  62. Isabel said: "I asked (twice) how the commercial illustrated it."

    And I've answered you. (See comment from Sept 7. Read ALL the comment. Not just parts of it. And go do the homework. If you still don't get it, watch all of Edward Said.)

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  63. @kasugai - thanks for 'deconvoluting' the issue. That was pretty refreshing.

    UPDATE: The loud group complaining about this has claimed that the subway ad depicting two Indians as 'fair' unlike the McD ad. They say it's fair because what the foreigners say is written in the regular Japanese characters rather than in the katakana characters which is usually used for foreign words. (McD uses katakana for what Mr. James say.)
    http://www.debito.org/?p=4337

    BUT they fail to recognize that depicting Indians in traditional outfit and having 'Spicy Sandwich' written to look like an Indian script is just as bad an exercise in stereotyping. Or worse since Indians in Japan don't have any positive images in the media the way white people do to counter these essentialist images.

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  64. "Wow, so they are upset about being portrayed as nerdy? Really? I'd give anything to have that portrayal rather than the sassy, angry Jezebel.

    Buy stock in Kleenex. It's hard for me to feel sympathy for something that can be attributed to anyone (i.e., nerdiness).

    Jillian, the anger isn't misplaced at all. It's justified."


    *ding ding ding*

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  65. "Wow, so they are upset about being portrayed as nerdy? Really? I'd give anything to have that portrayal rather than the sassy, angry Jezebel.

    Buy stock in Kleenex. It's hard for me to feel sympathy for something that can be attributed to anyone (i.e., nerdiness)."

    In other words, the "smart nerdy Asian as the other" stereotype is fine because someone of any race can be smart and nerdy. Got it.

    "If European-featured Japanese kids (actual Japanese citizens with nowhere else to call 'home') were getting teased in the playground, say, on the basis of this ad, then I think that would be a fair parallel to racist depictions of East and South Asians in the West.
    But if its only ex-pat Westerners who are getting in a huff about it, then, no, that's not racism"

    In other words, the "illegal Mexican immigrant as lazy and criminal" stereotype is fine because those people aren't Real American Citizens anyway. Got it.

    "Oh please....one slightly negative ad out of how many featuring white people in Japan?"

    In other words, an ad showing Blacks as the "sambo" stereotype is fine because the majority of ads that blacks are in portray them as positive stereotypes, like singers, dancers and athletes. Got it.

    "It seems white people are more welcomed than any other group in Japan, even moreso than Japanese-Brazilian immigrants (Nisei), who are often full blooded Japanese but whose first language is Brazilian-Portuguese."

    In other words, Asian immigrants to the US shouldn't be offended by anything they see, because American society accepts them far more than Hispanic or Middle Eastern immigrants. Got it.

    "It's kind of like Southpark (Or rather, how people describe Southpark) everyone's a target (Although that's arguable)."

    In other words, blacks shouldn't be upset or offended that whites are racist against them, because whites are racist against everyone. Got it.

    "reverse racism (racism against whites) does not exist any more than reverse-sexism ("misandry") exists. its a stupid word game, where white men invert existing terms, intending to obfuscate the power structures that give them all the power, allowing white men to pretend that they are victims, instead of perpetrators and beneficiaries of both racism and sexism."

    I was unaware that Japan was ruled by white men.

    "Didn't we just learn the definition of racism? Prejudice + institutional power? In Japan, I'll remind you, most of the people are Japanese. They have the power. To depict other races in a stereotypical and derogatory way (whether they're white or not) is racist."

    I'm sorry, that definition only applies to white people. When white people have prejudice and power they are racist. When non-white, non-Western countries have a majority native population with both prejudice and power, they are only racist if they use that prejudice and power against non-whites. Apparently.

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  66. "Just cause you heard some POCs getting outraged about what you assumed to be a small, petty thing doesn't mean you should get outraged about what strongly seems to be a small, petty thing."

    The hypocrisy in this statement is overwhelming. Are you seriously assuming that the only reason white people are upset about this ad is because they heard a POC get upset about something that they themselves thought was small and petty?

    Personally, as an American expat (to Australia, not Japan) I've been slightly offended at portrayals of "Yanks" (aka "Seppos" because "septic tank" rhymes with "Yank") overseas. I remember making a joke once when I asked if anyone wanted the last (something I don't remember) at dinner, and when they all said "no" I joked "that's alright, I'd have eaten it anyway," only to find out later that what would have been seen as a random, meaningless jest with my friends back home was gossip fodder behind my back: Of course I'd take the last whatever it was, because I was American, and Americans are selfish and greedy and take what they want without caring who they hurt.

    Call it petty if you want, but it stung me, just like I get annoyed at everyone asking "Are you Canadian?" because they don't recognize my accent and are afraid they'd "offend" me if they asked if I was American and it turned out I wasn't. I've been asked if I was Canadian at least 20 times, never once have I been asked if I was American. Most people go with "where are you from" but it took me awhile (and a conversation with an Aussie) to realize that they never asked if I was from the US because "American" is an insult.

    When I am in the US, I have native-born US citizen privilege. That's a fact and I won't argue with that. When I'm overseas in Australia, I have white privilege still, but not native US citizen privilege. That privilege is gone, because US citizens aren't the norm, and they're not in power.

    I would imagine that in the same way, whites in Japan lose their white privilege, because in Japan there is no white privilege (other than perhaps "most well liked other") but instead, there is Japanese privilege. Native born Japanese are at the top of the ladder there, educated white foreigners might be better off than Korean or Chinese immigrants, but "being treated better than another othered group" is NOT the same as "being accepted and fully integrated into society."

    I think it's hard to take off the West-colored-glasses and see that white privilege is not a direct result of skin tone, but rather a result of being a member of the ruling majority group.

    I don't think anyone would say "Since Japanese are privileged in Japan, it's okay for them to be othered in the US," so why on earth is it okay to say "Since whites are privileged in white-majority countries, it's okay for them to be othered in Japan."

    Japan is a major player in the world market, it's an affluent, postindustrial nation and a leader in technology development. To insinuate that white foreigners are privileged over native Japanese *in Japan* is basically saying that western nations are superior to Japan, so no Japanese citizen could ever, under any circumstances, have more privilege than a white westerner.

    And that, my dears, IS privileged thinking.

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  67. PS to clarify what I said about Yanks being called "seppos," because it rhymes with "septic tank," 10-15 years ago the rhyming slang term was "Shermans" because Yank rhymes with Sherman tank.

    "Seppos" isn't just standard rhyming slang, it's intentionally derogatory.

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  68. Ok, this will take some work:

    - Lost in Translation has nothing to do with racism. Absolutely nothing.

    @Tomato.

    Largely agree with you. It's obvious the author has not lived in Japan (visiting doesn't count).

    "Imagine living in Japan most of your life, being fluent in the language, becoming a naturalized citizen, but still having to face people everyday who ignorantly assume you can't possibly be from Japan because of the color of your skin."

    @7th

    Raises a valid point as well; if you think white people are alone in this type of treatment in the Japanese media, check out the Chinese, Koreans, and Brazilians (though I don't know of any references to the Ainu)

    @Vick

    "If they weren't so darn ignorant they would realize that the Japanese weren't being racist at all. The "goofy nerdy white guy" image is just a meaningless image that Japanese happen to enjoy - they don't mean nuthin by it, really."

    That's precisely the point - they don't know that by perpetuating the image of a stereotypical white non-Japanese speaking foreigner, it's only making things more different for relations between Japanese and non-Japanese.

    @Blue

    "If European-featured Japanese kids (actual Japanese citizens with nowhere else to call 'home') were getting teased in the playground, say, on the basis of this ad, then I think that would be a fair parallel to racist depictions of East and South Asians in the West."

    They are, as a result of ads like this and the impression it creates on ethnically Japanese people. They are.

    @al

    "It's not racism, it's preserving their cultural identity, and race does play a part in that."

    That's terrible reasoning. So Japan should continue to "preserve its cultural identity", keep foreigners at a distance, and not accept any "racial impurities"? Very nice.

    @Blue (again)

    "I don't know if there exist white Japanese who are not ex-pats, who were raised there, and don't have a home other than Japan, and I don't know if such people suffer racism from their peers"

    Exactly - you don't know, which is why I'm surprised you took such a strong stance in his article on a Japanese commercial, lacking essential knowledge. There are hundreds if not thousands of ethnically non-Japanese children who were born and raised in Japan and suffer mistreatment in schools from being "half"s or non-Japanese.

    @fromthetropic

    Well said.


    I had to stop and sleep after reading all these comments.

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  69. Turner wrote,

    Lost in Translation has nothing to do with racism. Absolutely nothing.

    Why not? Just because you say so?

    Do you mean racism is not a topic in the movie, or that the movie itself is not racist?

    Please take a look at these citiques, and then get back to us about whether that film has anything to do with racism:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jan/24/japan.film

    http://www.arc.org/racewire/031112e_paik.html

    ReplyDelete
  70. Not because I say so; because it has nothing to do with it. It's about being displaced. Could have been based in any foreign country, but happens to work quite well in Japan. Nice try, though.

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  71. blue (who is also p).September 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM

    @Turner

    I don't understand your comment. What does "took a strong stance in his article" mean? Is it a typo? I didn't take any stance in someone else's article!

    I also don't follow your objection to my comment. As I said, native-born, Japanese citizen white (or mixed) folk would be entitled to complain, but I don't accept that ex-pats do (and the most vocal complaints appear to come from precisely that group - self described 'foreign' residents of Japan).

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  72. @Turner - "It's obvious the author has not lived in Japan (visiting doesn't count)."

    Huh? Are you talking about me? Hahahaha. I'm half Japanese and I've LIVED in Japan both as a child and adult. I went to a public elementary school in Japan and couldn't fit in because I was 'different'. I know what it's like for kids who become 'toukoukyohi' (a syndrome where youths develop psychological or psychosomatic symptoms that prevents them from going to school as a result of bullying, isolation, etc). I've experience racism from the Japanese (even outside of Japan) for being half non-Japanese . And I've been told I was arrogant because I could speak English.

    BUT, BUT, BUT I've also experienced 'white privilege' in Japan for being able to speak English and being Westernized. I've had plenty of people 'chiyahoya' (to praise and give special treatment) me for that. I'm sure I experienced it more than I noticed (since we are usually blind to our own privileges). And I've watched white friends enjoy 'white privilege' too. I also know of many half Japanese kids/adults who use/switch on their 'white privilege' when they need to avoid unpleasant situations, and switch it back off when it's not necessary.

    So, yeah, I know what it's like to be 'Othered' in Japan (especially as a kid). I know what it's like to be displaced. I know what it's like to experience racism from the Japanese. BUT I also know how white privilege operates in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. And what ticks me off the most about the criticism of this ad is that the people criticizing it don't seem to understand (or refuse to see) the bigger picture.

    "@fromthetropic
    Well said."

    huh? So you agree? Or was that sarcasm?

    ReplyDelete
  73. I'm a 20 year old white Australian girl and I have to say, the word racism is just being used to loosely.
    I personally think the Mr. James ad is a bit of a laugh and can't see why people should be so upset about it.
    What does bother me is the amount of people commenting who include all white people into one group, "reverse racism (racism against whites) does not exist any more than reverse-sexism ("misandry") exists. its a stupid word game, where white men invert existing terms, intending to obfuscate the power structures that give them all the power, allowing white men to pretend that they are victims, instead of perpetrators and beneficiaries of both racism and sexism.

    in reality, men have nothing to lose from "misandry" just like whites lose nothing due to "reverse racism." but whites and men have everything to gain from both racism and sexism proper."

    Whites? White men? Way to go and completely group multiple countries with different cultures, lifestyles and personalities into one, degrading group.

    It doesn't help your arguments or bring anything positive to the discussion.

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  74. my friend who came back from japan was talking about this the other day and complained about the racism she endured on her three year stay. i could understand the racism in the other things she mentioned such as getting a job and housing but when she mentioned this i just laughed. she told me what was offensive about it (the broken japanese) and i simply replied to with asian portrayal in american media.

    i don't know about anyone but i often get this vibe that a lot of white (even black and latino) are looking at asians as the most racist people in the world.

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  75. Shoudnt we just fight all sterotypes? Why do people say that some people have a right to complain and some dont? One race claims they had it worse, so the oter should deal with it. If we are ever going to get to this perfect utopia that we as Human Beings are striving for Racism has to go away.

    2 Wrongs do not make a rght! We should all fight Racisam and Sterotypes.

    TV is full of racism and no race is spared its steor-types. Pick a race and their is a show, commerical, or movie that stero-types them.

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  76. juggle,

    I think very few readers here would disagree with the idea that stereotypes and racism need to be fought against.

    I do disagree with the idea that white people are stereotyped as an entire race on TV, commercials, and movies. Yes, white people in those places are stereotyped, but as certain kinds of people, not as just "white people" in general. Unlike stereotypes about members of other races, stereotypes about white people are stereotypes about certain kinds of people (rednecks, surburbanites, hipsters, yuppies, and so on), and not stereotypes about all white people.

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  77. I didn't read the story but I am just going to go on a random rant about RACISM!

    If I could see anyone in the world, it would be the media.. Always the dumb blond skinny *****.. Dumb blond skinny b*****s here.. there... everywhere!

    I feel like saying to them that those dumb blond skinny b****es can go suck in a hippos giant wang, cause that's equivalent to the love they're getting from their "fans" aka the people they've completely brainwashed!

    I mean what about the love for us ASIANS and the Native, the Jew, the Mexican, the Black or the everything else? Or are they just THAT racist they don't even bother!?!?!??!?

    I got soooooo mad one day, I sent a mean and nasty email to "People" magazine. I'm sure that's where it started.

    I don't think it's okay for them to have come up with the phrase "Everyone in the country is treated as an equal," if they don't even live up to it because clearly that's NOT what's happening at all!!!

    I watched an episode of "C.S.I: Miami." When the blonde girl went missing, they broad casted it to the media. When the Hispanic girl went missing, nobody gave a flying damn. So she was killed (By her tennis coach) dumped in the swamp, and left to be eaten by crocodiles. (They found an arm when investigating the blonde girl's disappearance.)

    Then at the end, to top the cherry off. Eric Delko (Who's half Hispanic and half Russian) went on a rant about how you need blonde hair and blue eyes to get any real attention in this world. My first reaction to that is "Wow.. Took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn't have put it any better myself."

    I have this asian FEMALE friend who knows more about dating than I do, so I asked for her advice. When I told her about how all the guys I've ever been with had told me I was their FIRST Asian, I found that extremely offensive because a statement like that is practically implying there was no one of their preferred interest around so they thought I was "Next best thing." That makes me feel like complete s*** and all she had to say to that was "hmm." Which is immature, not supportive and not sympathetic at all. She was supposed to boost up my self esteem again, not make me feel worse...

    What bothers me the most is the whole "Big boobs" thing. That's VERY offensive. I believe that's what started all the abuse, rape and womanizing against woman!

    I heard woman have more rights than men ever since the whatever year. But it doesn't seem to be that way when all of this is happening. It doesn't make sense to me, I mean you don;t get MEN walking around the street with 10 foot long dicks do you ? It is ALWAYS cruelty against women!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All this time I spent asking myself, "What is soo wrong with me that no one will ever love me?"
    Then I came to the conclusion, there's nothing wrong with me. It's THEM being messed up, rude, racist tools!

    To me it doesn't matter whether it's offline or online. Guys are all the same. Online is bad alone with the fake pictures, lies and manipulation. But in real life if I see a guy who I think is cute, (Doesn't matter if he's also Asian or a White man.) I would be checking him out and smiling and he doesn't even make a reaction!

    My thoughts to that are 1. He's not available, (Taken, committed, married, homosexual)
    2. He's not interested, (Into those dumb blonde skinny b*****s, racist!)
    3, He just.. doesn't date random people.

    But if you think about it. Everyone that we know now, was a random person to start with. Someone had to start the conversation and get it going.

    So yeah, I deserve to be treated better than like I don't even exist!

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  78. Hah... this is an old post with a lot of old comments... and I confess, I read neither in full... but I did watch the video of the commercial. I don't speak a word of Japanese but, as a nerdy white guy, I thought it was both funny and accurate. I could see many a guy like myself doing exactly what Mr. James was doing... and P.S. what a nice apartment.

    Also, as someone who works in advertising, the premise sounds clever... I imagine he's repeating some complimentary things about the food. Good way to get the sales message across, in repetition, in a way that the Japanese will listen closely (thinking that they're only listening to spot Mr. James' funny prononciation).

    As for the bigger topic of 'racism' against white people? Whatever. Maybe it exists in cultures where whites are an extreme minority, as in Asia or Africa. But frankly, most whites spend most of their lives growing up in an extreme majority position and oblivious to what it means to be singled out for racial features. Putting the shoe on the other foot for awhile might actually be good for us, even if the experience pales in comparison to the very real racism that has existed elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete

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