Saturday Night Card Game (Who should have played the role?)
I posted earlier in the week about the Super Bowl commercial run by Pete Hoekstra, who is running for Senate from Michigan against Debbie Stabenow.
The commercial was part of a DebbieSpendItNow.com campaign highlighting the loss of jobs in Michigan to countries like China. The url now redirects to Hoekstra’s campaign website, but here is a prior screenshot.
The use of an Asian woman speaking broken English in what apparently was supposed to be a Chinese rice paddy setting (although it actually was filmed in California) touched off howls of racism and negative stereotyping of Asian-Americans:
Claiming an opponent will send or has sent jobs to China is hardly a new threat in Michigan politics. Democrats have used such attacks. One of the most famous ads of the 2010 cycle, from the third-party group Citizens Against Government Waste, featured a Chinese professor of the future talking about the collapse of the United States.
But the broken English and stereotypical music in Hoekstra’s ad have provoked a backlash….
The Michigan chapter of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, a nonpartisan group, called the ad “very disturbing” in a statement. A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called the ad “blatantly racist.”
A group of Detroit black ministers joined in, arguing that the spot is “no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect.”
People even went so far as to check the html code on the website and upon discovering the term “yellowgirl” in the code, proclaimed racist intent (I debunked that here).
Why was the commercial racist?
Since the person was not supposed to be Asian-American, but a Chinese national, why was the broken English wrong? If the commercial were about shipping jobs to Italy and the ad featured an Italian-looking person in a setting reminiscent of Italy speaking broken English, would people have reacted the same way?
Or if there were a film about Jewish refugees from Europe heading for Israel after World War II, would it be wrong for the refugees to be caucasians speaking broken English with Yiddish accents?
The commercial was cheesy, and maybe bad politics, but I’m not seeing the claim of racism.
The controversy reminded me of a Broadway opening I saw in 1971 for a musical called Ari. It was a musical adaptation of Leon Uris’ film Exodus.
There’s not much information available online, but what little there is confirms my memory that it was awful. It closed after just 19 performances, which was 18 more than it should have had.
Putting aside the bad theatrics, one image sticks in my mind. This was a musical about Jewish refugees from Europe heading for Israel, yet one of the dancers portraying a European Jewish refugee was black.
Was it wrong to have someone portray a part he clearly did not fit based on ethnicity and race?
There certainly are many instances when a role does not dictate that the performer be of the same intended race as the character, and I pass no judgment on the producers of Ari in that regard. I am much more upset that they wasted everyone’s time and money.
But getting back to the Hoekstra ad, if you accept that outsourcing jobs to China was a legitimate political issue, and that it was appropriate to have an ad shot in a Chinese setting to make the point, then who should have played the role?
Update 2-16-2012: Hoekstra ad actress recants and begs forgiveness
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I suppose you could not make Casablanca now.
All those ethnics, speaking broken English…including the Nazis.
And the Pepe la Pew caricature of Frenchmen…!!! La Horrors…
Hey, Sarkozy fits the bill just perfectly…!
If we would only all admit we are racists it would save the Democrats so much time. Why are we so selfish? Do we only think of ourselves? I am so ashamed…
Could someone please remind me again? Which political party is it that sees everything through the filter of race? Isn’t that being obsessive compulsive? And isn’t that a disorder? So which party is it that’s out-a-whack? What? You say none of this has to make sense? It’s all about “feelings”? Why didn’t you say so?
While the production values of the ad are fair, they could have saved a lot of money if they had used an overseas production company and filmed it in China.
Rationality is irrational in the world of race politics.
We all know that the actual racists are hypervigilant in searching for “racism” everywhere because their existence depends on their finding it.
You are, of course, correct in your observations, but you are preaching to the choir in this instance.
I don’t like the underlying message of the ad at all. It’s pandering to some ugly anti-Chinese sentiment and a very unconservative fixed-pie mentality.
But racism is the depiction of a human being as being less than human due to their race. This ad doesn’t depict the Chinese woman as stupid or ugly or cruel or any of the usual defamations. On the contrary, she’s clearly a model, she’s educated enough to have learned passable English, and she’s mocking the viewer.
At worst, it’s bigoted. It’s an important distinction: if our goal is a society where racism is basically unknown, that’s an achievable goal, and to a large extent we’re already there.
But to attain a society where there is no bigotry is probably impossible and would almost certainly require crushing restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
What exactly are you talking about?
At this point, until, and unless you explain yourself further, I’d call you nothing less than a progressive-
….trying to convolute the argument
What you say is nonsense. So she uses Chinglish. Big deal, that’s how a lot of English is spoken in China. The Chinese want to take our jobs, and they’re glad they’re doing it. Do we not use somebody Chinese or talk about it because we will seem bigoted? Nonsense.
LukeHandCool, The Chinese speak English in many different accents. So, you will hear the Queen’s English, Austealian, Canadian, American, Irish, etc. it all depends on who taught them English. What ties them all together is that you will hear Chinglish a lot because they do what we do: they translate from their language into English, unless they can think in English.
The Chinese will frequently tell you America doesn’t want them to succeed. That’s the propaganda they swallow. Then they laugh because china is the world’s manufactory.
What about Australian depictions of the “stoopid American” portrayed with an over-the-top Southern “redneck” (or “retarded cowboy”, a la Russell Brand’s epithet for GWB) accent?
1. This post is a typical example of colorblind racism and white privilege.
Ice People are racists. All of them. Some of them recognize their deficiencies, but it will take them centuries to catch up to the superior sharing communality of Sun People.
I grant that once in a while you find a good one, but even then you can never be sure.
2. What passes for my sense of humor is influenced by my refugee roots.
Pete Hoekstra is running in the US Senate race against Debbie Stab-me-now, not the Gubernatorial race.
Yes, thanks fixed
’round here they call her Stab-a-cow-
take it for what you will.
Not advocating one way or the other…..just sayin’
I saw a press conference leading the local newscast–
still looking for it-
Here’s an article and the still–thinking you’ll recognize the two gentlemen in the background-
Personally, I never knew the ad was racist until the Detroit poverty pimps laid it out in no uncertain terms–
Why do they care, you ask?
….follow the Yellow Brick Road
Wouldn’t it be an odd commercial if her English was flawless … maybe with a valley-girl accent? Maybe a hint of the Queen’s English? Cockney? Scouse?
I mean, come on! She’s supposed to be in China where she’s speaking English as a foreign language.
Her English sounds a lot like my wife’s (which provides the kids and me daily amusement).
LukeHandCool (who, while living in Japan, once made the common mistake of mixing up the verbs “suwaru” (to sit) and “sawaru” (to touch). So Luke got a very surprised look from an elderly Japanese man when Luke offered him his seat. Luke meant to say, “Would you like to sit here?” but it came out, “Would you like to touch me here?” The fact that Luke motioned with his hand towards the seat, which could also be perceived as motioning to his … ahem … pelvic area … didn’t help matters. What did help matters was when Luke stood up and motioned to the chair and said, “Doozo, doozo.” (Please take it). And that is one of Luke’s stories from one of his rare sober moments. The drunken ones … whooooa ….
I’ve noticed a certain theme has begun to run through your posts…..
Oh ‘Enry. You’re just beginning to notice?
This is just another Cloward Piven style strategy. C/P says to break the whole system by overloading the “safety nets”. Put everyone on some form of welfare.
Now we have the same thing with speech. We changed with the civil rights movement, because of the racist past. But now racial equality turns into racial control … anything involving race is predetermined to be racist, if said by a non-member of the new Great Marxist Society. There is no escape, except to join the old hippies in their tired old 60’s revolution, where you will then receive absolution. All races are beautiful, except conservative (demonic) whites.
That is Obama … he will mandate wealth be redistributed to his unions and donors. To disagree makes you a greedy one percenter or a bitter clinging racist. Engaging in self defense is just evidence of guilt. You western colonizers are all the same. “Hey hey Ho ho … CPAC bigots have got to go.”
Most important is for the calm speaking PBS style community to smugly condone the judgment, ensconcing themselves as Lords of sanctimony. It’s a charade that most see through, but the egomaniacs are so into their role playing, they can’t give it up. And the shakedowns have been working so well for them.
The Chinese are economic enemies that we granted most favored trade status. That may have been a mistake, as they continue to steal our technology, but in any case, they DO speak Chinese and look Chinese. But any pro-American comments will be deemed racist or jingoistic or whatever … since the left still dreams of one world with all the children holding hands.
Sounds like the Spanish Inquisition, against which there truly was no defense.
No one could defend against it; the accused was guilty, because the High Inquisitor said so.
(The satire done by Monty Python comes to mind….but this is too serious to link to, this time. These ideological thugs are dead serious, I believe.)
Sickening. Horrifying if they ever get all the power they are clamoring for – horrifying.
It was not racist, Professor. The race baiters, the race mongers who profit by looking for raaaaacism everywhere, will call anything racist. Even if the girl was white, in a field plucking daisy petals, only 5 years old, looking at an atomic blast – that today would be a raaaaacist commercial, somehow. These shake down artists would find a way.
Heck, even being “color blind” is now somehow racist. And, as @MidwestRhino so eloquently, and chillingly, notes: to defend yourself against it merely proves your guilt.
Demonization. Ridicule. Innuendo. Alinsky’s tools for radical success.
A segment of our population is uncomfortable with incidental diversity. They need to get out more.
“no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect.”
I’ve been looking for this “so called code book” for a few decades now. I hope it comes with an audio section because I guess I’ll need it to figure out exactly what a “slave dialect” sounds like.
The left has very general and very specific tactics to attain political gains. The ‘racist!’ reaction to this ad is an example of a general tactic – to blur and confuse folks on what constitutes racism. The goal is to shut certain folks up out of fear they might sound racist, and the less well-defined racism is, the better it works. This is why a conservative is roundly castigated for anything remotely racist, while a liberal is given cover, a free pass, even for definite and overtly racist speech or action.
Not only that, but some Democrat ran an ad almost identical to this one a couple years earlier. If I can remember his name, I’ll post it.
Frank Beckmann on WJR dealt with this on his show. He pointedly asked Alicia Ping, a Republican Chinese American, why she objected each element of the ad. Was it the Chinese girl? Was it her accent? Was it the depiction of the rice paddies? To each of these, she answered, “Well, noooo” going on to mumble something about stereotypes, even though all the elements of the ad were accurate.
See, that’s the thing about stereotypes. They’re based on realities.