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"Japanese McDonald's Makes Fun of White People" by Keane Ng

InvisibleSkyMagician

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http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/94000-Japanese-McDonalds-Makes-Fun-of-White-People

McDonald's in Japan has launched a new ad campaign that centers around a caricature of a bumbling white foreigner who can't speak Japanese and, for whatever reason, happens to love McDonald's.

Baka gaijin! McDonald's in Japan is having a little fun with stereotypes of ignorant Caucasian foreigners with its newest ad campaign. The ads feature one Mr. James, a bespectacled white foreigner who dresses like your stereotypical IT nerd, with an ugly part, geeky shirt and tie and a consistently goofy smile. Mr. James speaks awful Japanese, and can only communicate in katakana, the system used in Japanese for transcribing foreign words. Mr. James is too stupid to know any kanji.

He loves McDonald's food, and is traveling all over Japan to meet people and blog about his experiences in comically broken Japanese. According to some people, Mr. James is also a racist stereotype of white foreigners. Thus a non-profit called the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA), has written an open letter to the McDonald's homebase in the US to shut down the ad campaign.

I think this is a case of viewing and incorrectly judging other cultures using the values and concepts of one's own culture.

What do I mean? The issue here apparently is racism or racist caricatures. "This is an OUTRAGE!" they say.

Well, no, not really. It is important to note that the Japanese public's own views on and responses to racism are slightly different from say, America's or the UK's. And this is because of a slight difference in culture.

As we know, Japanese people love their game shows and they always put themselves or other people in ridiculous and even humiliating situations. However, it is important to point out that these are all done very light-heartedly and is treated or should be treated as innocuous fun, not created or viewed with malicious intent. This commercial is simply an extension of this. Due to the way racism is treated in Japan, people for the most part don't view the white person in it while thinking "Stupid white foreigners, get out of my country!" They just see it as a person making self-deprecating jokes, the same self-deprecating jokes that are used all the time in the game shows. My point is in the creation of the ad, there was no malicious intent, and the people who live in this culture, view it without malicious intent.

Not to say racism shouldn't be viewed with disdain, but the anti-racists have better targets and they're doing their cause no favors by focusing on this one.

And on a tangent, people often say Japanese people are massive hidden racists. I would like to point out 2 things:

1) Everyone in the world is a racist.
2) If you piss a Japanese redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally), he will still keep his racism hidden.
If you piss an American Southern redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally) from the Bible Belt, he will show his racism. As well as his guns.

So I'd feel safer in Japan, even with the "hidden racists"

And here's the gem of the article:

And here I was under the impression that foreigners were treated like gods in Japan. Anime has led me wrong yet again.

If this guy, Keane Ng, is using anime as a tool to determine what Japanese reality is like, then why should we, the readers, bother to read his opinions on an important issue like racism and prejudice?

And some foreigners do make it big in Japan. Tall white guys with blond hair and blue eyes generally attract attention from the women. And, likewise, many Japanese businessman would pay top dollar for a nice blond white girl.
 

slide

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If you piss an American Southern redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally) from the Bible Belt, he will show his racism. As well as his guns.

Good job being racist.
 

Mike Cash

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I think this is a case of viewing and incorrectly judging other cultures using the values and concepts of one's own culture.

What do I mean? The issue here apparently is racism or racist caricatures.

.......

If you piss an American Southern redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally) from the Bible Belt, he will show his racism. As well as his guns.

And you have something to say about stereotyping?
 

Kirie_Maiden

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1) Everyone in the world is a racist
I'd like to know what you are basing this "fact" on... and what is your definition of Racism if you think that we are all racists.
I can tell you that the Oxford English Dictionary states the definition of Racist as:
A. n. An advocate or supporter of racism; a person whose words or actions display racial prejudice or discrimination. Also in extended use: a person who is prejudiced against people of other nationalities.
I can tell you with some great confidence that this does not apply to every single person in the world. Anybody who thinks so is surely a racist trying to justify their own views (as Slide and Mike Cash have already pointed out).
 

biru san1

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Sounds to me, that they are having a bit of fun at our expense... Lighten up folks.... when I was in the military, I observed many American tourists first hand... Many of them made total fools of themselves... biru san1
 

Emoni

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Invisible... I want to like your threads, I really do, but you make it so difficult because you keep doing the same thing.

You have a great topic, but then you mess it up when you make comments carelessly that ruin your arguments. You attempt to counter balance the article in almost a devil's advocate way, but end up shooting yourself in the foot again. Maybe not as bad as last time, but it's still bleeding pretty bad.

As for my opinion of this, it is clearly racist. Taking such a blatant stereotype, and a social issue and creating this character only reinforces crap I have to deal with time to time. I don't need that level of ignorance reinforced by a major chain. As for the point that it's ok because "Japan is different" this is a really baseless argument and one of the worst you could use. You can do better than that. Going by that logic, you can say that having a minstrel show in Japan is ok, because they don't have the slavery history that the United States does. That's one f'ing weak argument.

So, what is next, a black guy in jeans and overalls eating watermelon and chicken for ads for KFC?
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Actually, most of the white guys I knew in Japan were like that. There are some who are very different, but the stereotype is pretty funny because there is some truth to it.

I guess, as someone who thought it funny to play the stereotype as a joke to friends, these ads don't bother me in the least.
 

bakaKanadajin

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As we know, Japanese people love their game shows and they always put themselves or other people in ridiculous and even humiliating situations. However, it is important to point out that these are all done very light-heartedly and is treated or should be treated as innocuous fun, not created or viewed with malicious intent. This commercial is simply an extension of this. Due to the way racism is treated in Japan, people for the most part don't view the white person in it while thinking "Stupid white foreigners, get out of my country!" They just see it as a person making self-deprecating jokes, the same self-deprecating jokes that are used all the time in the game shows. My point is in the creation of the ad, there was no malicious intent, and the people who live in this culture, view it without malicious intent.

I disagree. It's the tip of an iceberg. I suppose since the tip's not so dangerous we feel can afford to treat it light-heartedly, but in so doing we ignore the other 70-80% of racism that exists in Japan, from which this kind of commercial stems.

Not to say racism shouldn't be viewed with disdain, but the anti-racists have better targets and they're doing their cause no favors by focusing on this one.

Japan wishes to be acknowledged as a developed country. Developed countries need to adhere to certain norms, so I think people have a right to get upset about ads like this.

It's relative. If undeveloped country A stops committing genocide and opens up to international relations, we should applaud that as a huge step. Likewise, if developed country B with its stability, rational mind and wealth, permits even minor injustices against its own citizens (there are white citizens in Japan), then it's treated as not so minor an issue because it undoes a lot of progress.

And on a tangent, people often say Japanese people are massive hidden racists. I would like to point out 2 things:

1) Everyone in the world is a racist.
2) If you piss a Japanese redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally), he will still keep his racism hidden.
If you piss an American Southern redneck off (intentionally or unintentionally) from the Bible Belt, he will show his racism. As well as his guns.

So I'd feel safer in Japan, even with the "hidden racists"

I'd challenge you on the fact that the Japanese keep their racism hidden.

Please refer to 1) the commercial you just posted, 2) any number of drinking/relaxing establishments in Japan with 'no foreigner' signs in the window and then 3) all the other establishments where you'll get inside but receive a different level of service ranging from being ignored to being turned down even though there was no sign in the window.


And here's the gem of the article:

If this guy, Keane Ng, is using anime as a tool to determine what Japanese reality is like, then why should we, the readers, bother to read his opinions on an important issue like racism and prejudice?

And some foreigners do make it big in Japan. Tall white guys with blond hair and blue eyes generally attract attention from the women. And, likewise, many Japanese businessman would pay top dollar for a nice blond white girl.

It's called 'cynicism', he isn't actually basing anything on anime.

And what in gods name does your last paragraph have to do with anything?

The gem of the article, the part that sums up the main point is this:

"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"

EDIT: to add balance to my post, I must agree with biru san1's comment, I will wholeheartedly agree that many foreigners in Japan continually make jackasses of themselves. While the correct thing to do would be to politely ignore this as is done in other developed countries when people who are 'different', 'strange' and who 'don't get it' show up, I supposed we can't blame the Japanese because we give them lots of cannon fodder.
 

Chidoriashi

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This is a little off topic, but I would like to remind us all that Western media and movies have had their fair share of Asian buffoons. I'm not trying to make excuses for Japan/McDonalds, for those that take offense to the commercial, but let's not be took quick to call the kettle black.


Oh, I should add I just went to that link posted and found it to be quite hilarious, and I am a blond haired blue eyed whitey, I think that is about as stereotypical as we get here.
 
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pipokun

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...
2) any number of drinking/relaxing establishments in Japan with 'no foreigner' signs in the window and then 3) all the other establishments where you'll get inside but receive a different level of service ranging from being ignored to being turned down even though there was no sign in the window.
...

Be more specific esp., 3).
Do you think you are fair without saying that you need to be loud to say, "SUMIMASEN!!!", for your another beer at diners or pubs in Japan?

Do you mind if I kindly ask you to tell us your personal 3) stories?
 

Mikawa Ossan

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I'd challenge you on the fact that the Japanese keep their racism hidden.
Please refer to 1) the commercial you just posted, 2) any number of drinking/relaxing establishments in Japan with 'no foreigner' signs in the window and then 3) all the other establishments where you'll get inside but receive a different level of service ranging from being ignored to being turned down even though there was no sign in the window.
I would challenge this assertion.
I have said this before, but I have travelled western and central Japan extensively. I've been in almost every prefecture west of Gunma and a fair share of Kanto to boot. I travelled alone for a good part of that, but I've also travelled a little with other foreigners. I have lived in Kansai, Toukai, and Chugoku. I've been the only foreigner in the company that I've worked at, and the only one who speaks English, to boot.
I have experienced racism only a very little bit.
The only establishment I was outright denied service at was at the -ahem- red light district of Takamatsu. (I have been able to enter several in Osaka however. 😊) I was almost denied service at a barbershop until he found out I spoke Japanese, and then he was very friendly (He even invited me to help make a float for the city's big festival!) I have been denied housing because of my foreigness, but aftere reading up on the real estate business, I think that was less 'racism' than it was the landlord trying to avoid a potential risk (I have known in person at least two foreigners who up and left without any warning. Abit of a risk if you ask me. Also, I have heard foreigners speak about living in Japan as if they have no responsibilities at all.)
But that's about it. I find that the single biggest factor in how you get treated by people in Japan is Japanese language ability. Let's face it. Most whities don't speak Japanese very well and they don't try to assimilate into the culture very much. As Bakakanadajin and Birusan have said, we give them plenty of cannon fodder, and they'd be insane not to use it as material every now and then. Besides, I don't think that racism as known in the West even exists in modern Japan...at least not towards whities. (I am a whitie by the way.)
 

master-ling

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Trolling that you are
1250825531906.jpg
 

Emoni

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What can you say about this
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3050392803208120893
they make fun of japanese culture !

To make a single ad based around a stereotype isn't quite right, but it really depends on the degree. To make an ENTIRE CAMPAIGN about a stereotype and issue that goes deeper than most people might even realize is quite different. The pepsi ad doesn't even come close to the Mr. James ads.

I consider this a closer comparison to the stereotypes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrO87ItXoNg
 

biru san1

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I disagree. It's the tip of an iceberg. I suppose since the tip's not so dangerous we feel can afford to treat it light-heartedly, but in so doing we ignore the other 70-80% of racism that exists in Japan, from which this kind of commercial stems.



Japan wishes to be acknowledged as a developed country. Developed countries need to adhere to certain norms, so I think people have a right to get upset about ads like this.

It's relative. If undeveloped country A stops committing genocide and opens up to international relations, we should applaud that as a huge step. Likewise, if developed country B with its stability, rational mind and wealth, permits even minor injustices against its own citizens (there are white citizens in Japan), then it's treated as not so minor an issue because it undoes a lot of progress.



I'd challenge you on the fact that the Japanese keep their racism hidden.

Please refer to 1) the commercial you just posted, 2) any number of drinking/relaxing establishments in Japan with 'no foreigner' signs in the window and then 3) all the other establishments where you'll get inside but receive a different level of service ranging from being ignored to being turned down even though there was no sign in the window.




It's called 'cynicism', he isn't actually basing anything on anime.

And what in gods name does your last paragraph have to do with anything?

The gem of the article, the part that sums up the main point is this:

"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"

EDIT: to add balance to my post, I must agree with biru san1's comment, I will wholeheartedly agree that many foreigners in Japan continually make jackasses of themselves. While the correct thing to do would be to politely ignore this as is done in other developed countries when people who are 'different', 'strange' and who 'don't get it' show up, I supposed we can't blame the Japanese because we give them lots of cannon fodder.

🙂


I haven't heard "ching-chong Chinaman since I was in the fith grade, 1951... I am laughing so hard, the kitty cat ran out of the room.... biru san1
 

Emoni

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Well, at least Korea beat to Japan on this sort of stuff.
 
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bakaKanadajin

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@Mikawa Ossan

I don't doubt that based on personal experience some have had an easier ride than others. If you look back at my older posts you'll see that I used to rally the same line and protect Japanese racism as their peculiar way of protecting their culture and also attributed it to isolated reactions to the carelessness of foreigners who came before me. Since then I've had some experiences which changed my point of view.

Which leads to pipokun's point,

@pipokun

I won't pretend to have a litany of damning evidence here, I have a handful of personal experiences (enough to have changed my outlook anyhow) and I've heard several handfuls of similar experiences from other foreigners here. All in all, if one keeps an open mind one must say at the end of the day that these are all isolated and not representative of the culture but, if your outlook is changed it's hard to come back from that.

A few examples..

.. being turned down in red light districts. I don't frequent them often or particularly like them but if you have Japanese friends you will inevitably begin to frequent them. What's moreso annoying is the fact that at one place they waited till my friends had gone in, (I was last) and then turned me down just to ensure they got my friends money first. So that's 3 times there, twice in Kanto once in Kansai.

Snaku - been turned away from snaku with the crossed index fingers. I was looking for a place to settle into and go to regularly as a paying customer, so I came alone (not in herds like tourists do) and even though I spoke Japanese, they weren't welcoming. That was perhaps 2 places, and one place they let me in but were grudging so I didn't press the issue I left voluntarily. So call it 2 and a half.

Hair cut place.. I once asked for a haircut that looked like my gaijin card photo. I was specific about it being a little longer on top and shorter on the sides but not different from what I had at the time. The lady proceeded to basically shave my head, although.. it was longer on top and shorter on the sides.. But, clearly nothing like the picture. She just wanted me out of the place, quickly. No greetings, thanks, or any pleasantries. Clearly not the service Japanese people get.

I walked into a bowling alley, asked for directions to the nearest station and just got arms crossed in the air and a big 'NO'.

Plus stories from other people..

This is all since I arrived for my second stay in 2008.

I've also noticed a fair bit of 'soft' racism from new people I meet. They're noticeably cold at first, then once they figure out I speak Japanese, (and once those I know have all offered anecdotes and praise on my behalf, i.e. how they met me, how I helped them with X Y and Z, how I study hard, etc. etc.) and once I do the right things at the right time like 会釈 here and there and don't do anything stupid, they change on a dime and suddenly they're my best friends. (alcohol probably plays a role too). It takes obvious persuasion from others plus a concerted effort on my part just to get a little courtesy. This doesn't bother me, but I've noted it. Someone acting like that back home wouldn't have friends period.

And to be clear, that's not to say I'm bitter or resentful, I really enjoy being here and whatnot, I keep an open mind and treat people I meet with the 'clean slate' approach and I'm content. But I'm just more aware and less of a Japanese racism 'virgin'. When I was here in 2006 I was convinced Japan was extremely welcoming and loving of foreigners in the same way I was welcomed by Japanese people in Canada when I started studying and teaching as a hobby. I wrote off racism as isolated. But there's a big difference between Japanese abroad and here in Japan, I've come to realize.

Rather than isolated, I'd say racism is a little wider spread and is an unconscious part of the psyche and culture here. This is true in many other cultures of course but here though, with the population being so homogeneous it's far more dense and 'concentrated'. It's also more prevalent, non-intentional and a result of passive fear/xenophobia/herd mentality, which the Japanese themselves admit as being part of their 島国 culture.

Plus I completely concede to the fact that many morons have come before me and spoiled the ride and I resent those who continue to come here and continue to scare the Japanese into a more and more defensive stance against foreigners.
 

pipokun

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...
A few examples..
...
Rather than isolated, I'd say racism is a little wider spread and is an unconscious part of the psyche and culture here. This is true in many other cultures of course but here though, with the population being so homogeneous it's far more dense and 'concentrated'. It's also more prevalent, non-intentional and a result of passive fear/xenophobia/herd mentality, which the Japanese themselves admit as being part of their 窶懌?。ツ坂? culture.

Plus I completely concede to the fact that many morons have come before me and spoiled the ride and I resent those who continue to come here and continue to scare the Japanese into a more and more defensive stance against foreigners.

What do you explain your discriminatory attitude, "Even out great multi-cultural society, "o canada", has racism, so non-intentional, passive fear/xenophobia/herd mentality society MUST have more racism?

When I ask somebody to be more specific, the answers, fortunately or unfortunately, were only red-light district related or simply language related.
I don't know if you know the different regulations between barbers and hair salons, but it is just a different regulation that only barbers can use a razor to shave your beard or eyebrows.
One big cultural shock might be "WHY SO MANY J MEN TAME/SHAVE THEIR EYEBROWS???". It is simply because a barber do it, nothing more, nothing less. Then, if you go to a hair salon expecting your cool eyebrows, but they don't offer you. You may find it intolerable discrimination without proper explanation, but the real reason is merely the different regulation.
 

bakaKanadajin

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What do you explain your discriminatory attitude, "Even out great multi-cultural society, "o canada", has racism, so non-intentional, passive fear/xenophobia/herd mentality society MUST have more racism?

Before large waves of immigrants found their way to Canada and the US, the culture there was predominantly white anglo-saxon and there was a lot of segregation and discrimination. It was a 'white' society and everyone else was a 'guest'. This old mindset of treating immigrants as being vastly different and unequal closely resembles modern Japan in some ways. This is (in my opinion) due to the high level of homogeneity and consensus, (read: there aren't enough immigrants in the voting populous yet to create varying points of view and waves of political change) coupled with the Japanese own self-admitted tendency towards xenophobia.

I don't think its discriminatory, I think it's a soundly based guess/observation of why they do what they admit they do. If you have another explanation as to why things are the way they are and why Japan differs so greatly from other developed countries in terms of minority treatment I'm all ears.

When I ask somebody to be more specific, the answers, fortunately or unfortunately, were only red-light district related or simply language related.

Please note that I gave other examples.

I'm also not sure why in your mind this fails as a suitable example of discriminatory service. Do you somehow see it as natural or fitting that foreigners be turned away in those kinds of establishments? Are those establishments exempt due to their nature? The key point we are discussing here is racism, so anywhere people are involved in distributing goods and services to customers is fair game.

I don't know if you know the different regulations between barbers and hair salons, but it is just a different regulation that only barbers can use a razor to shave your beard or eyebrows.
One big cultural shock might be "WHY SO MANY J MEN TAME/SHAVE THEIR EYEBROWS???". It is simply because a barber do it, nothing more, nothing less. Then, if you go to a hair salon expecting your cool eyebrows, but they don't offer you. You may find it intolerable discrimination without proper explanation, but the real reason is merely the different regulation.

I think you misunderstood what I said.
I was commenting on the level of service I received and the way I was treated.
I didn't want my eye brows shaved.
 

pipokun

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I am humbly asking you why you unite as the great North America, but in some cases you show off your Maple Leaf to avoid being recognized as an the great North America.

What if a red-light touching activist were arrested in a strip club in the US or your country (sorry I don't know the regulation in your country)? I simply think, different county, different regulation.

Just file a lawsuit for your drinking right at a snack or hostess bars.
 

bakaKanadajin

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pipokun-san, I'm not sure what you mean.

Do you mean sometimes I speak from the point of view of 'the West' and sometimes as a Canadian?

I and many others do this because there are so many similarities among Western countries that perhaps we don't wish to seem exclusive or over critical of another Western country. We acknowledge our similarities. At other times I myself have to use Canada as an example because the point I'm trying to make stems from a personal experience in my home country.

As I mentioned, I'm not bitter about being turned away, I'm just observing things I failed to see previously when I lived here in 2006. I don't wish to file any lawsuits, I'm not too concerned about my ability to enter Pink Salons ;) In all the above situations I left quietly without any argument.

If I was ever discriminated against on something of importance, like my visa, or given unfair treatment in the judicial system for something I didn't do, however, then I'd definitely consider legal representation.
 

Emoni

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Note to self: Read more of Bakakanadajin's posts.

Interesting examples and comments there. Thanks for the time it took to write all that.
 
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