Jen over at Disgrasian blogs about the above image:
Meet "Mr. James," new face of a McDonald's ad campaign in Japan. Mr. James is a Wacky Foreigner in Japan who speaks broken Japanese, wears the archetypal nerd uniform of glasses, a short-sleeved shirt with a tie, and ill-fitting khaki pants, has bad teeth, and--we're only guessing here--is probably someone who's never gotten laid. Sound familiar?In Jen's post, she also discusses how some Americans are all offended by Mr. James, saying it would be inappropriate if we invoked the stereotypical Asian foreigner in ads. Except, uh, we have. Repeatedly.
My first reaction to Mr. James was to laugh. Seriously, I laughed in a manner I can only describe as triumphant--not for me, but for what Jen refers to as "karma." Despite being "post-racial" (note my use of ironic scare quotes), the U.S. is obsessed with race, and t.v. shows, movies, and ads are rampant with stereotypical non-white behavior. Need I remind you of the Chicago Lake Liquors ads? And Asians are typically portrayed with excessive wackiness.
So yeah, when I saw this Mr. James, I laughed because it's nice to see the tables turned on this sort of thing.
But I also have the luxury of not being offended, and as I think about why, I am reminded of another Macon D post (sorry, but his posts totally apply to this--just bear with me):
Why is it that such words as “honky” and “cracker” lack the bite of “nigger,” or “wetback,” or “gook”? Why is it that as I typed that last sentence, I was tempted to censor the latter words (with such euphemisms as “the n-word” or “the g-word”), but not the former? We never say “the h-word” for “honky,” and if we ever do say or write “the c-word,” the word we’re referring to is not “cracker.”It's easy for me as a white person to shrug off these things--because I haven't had to endure the brunt of systemic racism my entire life.
For one thing, American English contains far more negative words for non-white people than it does for white people (notice how, by the end of the skit, Richard Pryor’s character runs out of anti-white slurs). More importantly, non-white people tend to have a stronger memory of the legally sanctioned abuse and violence that used to accompany non-white slurs, and sometimes still do. [view video at the above link].
Also, I might have found some lady-privilege after all--Mr. James doesn't offend me because I'm not a man. His doofish whiteness seems quite reminiscent of our own home-grown portrayals of doofy white men:
I do have to admit, though: Mr. James is certainly a lot less creepy than Ronald McDonald. But only by a little.