Chinese Food?

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By Josh Befort

The above picture came from the social media site Reddit. Reddit allows users to post links to websites, pictures and videos. In return the other users view the content and either up vote or down vote the content. Points are received by either up voting or down voting. The post then moves up or down in popularity, and can be accessed by more people. This post in particular made front page and garnered tens of thousands of views. Why did it make the front page? The text reads “Gourmet Chinese.. born in Kuwait,” with a seemingly Middle-Eastern man pulling his eyes to the side.  User _clevername_ states in the comments “at first I thought he was trying to blow [the food] up with his mind.” But other readers then point out that the picture is inherently “racist.”

This brings me to why I chose this post to analyze. The ad clearly was geared towards attracting people to its business located in Kuwait. The man in this picture is performing the most basic form of yellow face. A form of explicit yellow face in which non-Asians spread their eyes in order to communicate that they are Asian. Was this ad merely being tactless, is there a different standard in the Middle East, or was the ad specifically trying to be funny? Through my eyes, though, this is the most basic form of mimicry/mockery of Asians.

It’s important to address because especially in America this type of mockery is almost seen as funny. As kids it would be hard press to find someone who has not done this specific thing, pulling their eyes wide in order to either make fun of or attempt to mimic Asians. Even personally I can say that I did this while I was younger, my friends would do it. We might have seen older kids do it or perhaps seen it in a movie but it’s important to realize that these gestures were done at early ages. I feel that at a young age kids are impressionable; this has shown to be a fact. As we grow, and get older, we realize how much this type of mockery  affects others and the consequences it brings. We cannot define an entire race by such a simple gesture.  Thus leading me to my conclusion in order to move forward as a society it’s important to teach the younger generations that acts and gestures like this are not acceptable and perpetuate a cycle of “colonialism” and racial stereotyping.

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One thought on “Chinese Food?

  1. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for writing about this ad–you do an excellent job of using the concept of explicit yellowface to consider how this is problematic. In terms of younger kids mocking with this gesture, how might their actions be influenced by media images?

    Kathy

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