As a follow-up post to last week’s entry on the curious case of Jeremy Lin and the complicated relationship between the media and racism (or racial stereotypes) I thought this week I would continue with that theme.
I mentioned that there is a certain ‘tolerable’ level or some kind of pain threshold that society has for racism that makes some representations (accurate or not) ‘ok’ and others offensive. My musing on J-Lin last week got me thinking hard about how Asians Americans are getting a big dose of unfair representation right now. Maybe they have been for a while and I haven’t caught on. I suspect that is the case.
I saw all 3 of the following commercials (parts of a series of ads run by V8) on TV this past week. All are potentially controversial, but more importantly help illustrate the fact that some racism is ‘ok’ and helps sell drinks, while taking a headline about Jeremy Lin too far ( ESPN’s brilliant “chink in the armor” slogan) is off-limits. Again, I wonder what determines where we draw the line in the sand between acceptable and unacceptable forms of prejudice or stereotypes, and why it isn’t ALL just ‘too far’.
Check out these Jackie Chan commercials!
Video 1 and 2:
Videos 1 and 2 are, for me, less problematic. Although they can be read as displaying a sort of all-asians-are-ninjas message which is indeed borderline racist, I think that it really is poking fun at Jackie Chan’s tradition of absurd stunts and flights in the movies he made in his long career. He also did all his own scenes in terms of fights and stunt work, so many films featured hilarious outtakes of him messing up and hurting himself then laughing it off and trying the stunt all over again. It is no doubt part of what made him famous and a big part of the legacy he left behind for his most loyal fans (like ME!)
The third commercial in the series, however, appears to have a kind of pseudo-hibachi cooking utensil trickeration (it’s a word) that is more common to Japanese chefs than to Chinese American film stars. The equating of the two is perhaps offensive to some, and over their personal ‘line in the sand’ thus setting off the racism alarm.
I’m curious as to how many of you felt similar, or if perhaps all or none of the videos were offensive to you. To each his own I suppose.