So, are we really living in a Post-racial era? We live in a world where people in town halls are actually carrying mocked-up posters of Obama with a Hitler mustache. Well, here’s another situation, albeit much smaller but much more entertaining.
Meet Mr. James, the mascot for four new burgers that have launched at McDonalds Japan. His visage and persona is all over Japan, from JR train ads to TV commercials. Mr. James speaks annoying foreigner Japanese. Japanprobe has the whole scoop on this whole Mr. James fiasco, which is pissing off ex-pats living in Japan. Some have even compared Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit.
Our friends at Disgrasian put their take on this story, calling it racial karma. Their argument? The wacky, nerdy archetype with ill-fitted pants and bad teeth who has a terrible grasp of language and can never get laid usually is SLANTED-EYED. Here’s some examples in the U.S.:
More from Disgrasian:
Guess he hasn’t seen this Six Flags commercial, which began running last year, or this KFC commercial for their new Grilled Chicken, which has been running all summer. Karma’s one wacky bitch, isn’t it?
This story was also posted on the The Huffington Post, which leads into the next chapter of this story.
Japanprobe retaliated with an entry called Mr. James and racial karma. Here’s a reaction to Disgrasian’s karma joke:
So let me get this straight…
Something happened in America that was offensive to Asian people, thus something that happens to un-related white people in an Asian country is ‘Karma’, thus these new victims deserved it? Is that what you are saying?
All your sources about these disrespectful acts towards Asians in America are speaking out against them, correct? So if these acts of disrespect towards Asians in America are wrong, and you say this act of disrespect towards whites in Asia is the same thing, shouldn’t it also be wrong as well?
I can almost hear you chanting, ‘nah, nah na na naaa!!’ as you wrote this post. The appropriate way to go about this would be to try and use act in Japan as an example for Americans as to why this type of stereotyping is disrespectful, and thus try and gain further understanding and cooperations by both parties to put a stop to this type of stuff. But unfortunately, you are instead finding joy in other peoples suffering, which in fact contributes not to the greater good, but the greater evil.
Yowzers. Not known to be cornered, Disgrasian retorted on their blog that the outraged level of Mr. James and Stepin Fetchit comparison was histrionic and ridiculous. But, back to the whole karma thing, from Disgrasian:
I provided examples of Asian versions of Mr. James in my other post so as not to say, And now we’re even, but rather, Open your eyes, racial stereotyping is all around us, and actually, it’s often tolerated or ignored or dismissed, and yes, it’s sometimes even tolerated or ignored or dismissed by YOU. And that’s why I call Mr. James the face of karma. He’s getting people who don’t want to think about race issues or don’t have to think about race issues to think about them. He’s getting people who can’t be bothered or don’t see what’s wrong with stereotypes so long as they’re stereotypes of other people–the very thing Japan Probe accuses me of–to suddenly declare that negative stereotyping is bad all-around and, by golly, everyone oughta do something about that.
Amen to that.
I had a personal experience a few months ago where a white guy called me a racist. I was a part of a Directors Guild of America Asian American brunch, where the participating filmmakers at the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest were invited to basically eat scrambled eggs and hear a sales pitch by APA members to join the guild. Of course, most of the filmmakers were Asian and there were a smattering of Caucasians as well.
A few days later, I get an e-mail from one of the white filmmakers. It’s a novel of an e-mail. The first paragraphs thank me profusely for “choosing” his film for the festival, how it was a fantastic experience and that the films he saw were great, yadda yadda.…Then, the e-mail goes a veers 180 and I’m accused of being a racist for participating and endorsing an event like the DGA APA brunch that made him feel uncomfortable because the speakers spoke of “racial inequality” in Hollywood and how more APAs need to join the guild and not make it “a white guy only club”. Then, he reversed it, and said because of this personal attack on his race, he had an authentic tinge of what it is like to be a minority in America.
Ah yes, the white man’s burden.