I saw this ad on angryasianman.com and found it a mix of humorous and conflicting. The ad is for a Chinese food restaurant in Dubai and the catch phrase reads “Brings out the Chinese in everyone”. Obviously the idea that this Chinese food gives its customers more squinty eyes is satire and I genuinely don’t believe the people that created, drafted and approved this ad campaign had ill intentions. But it does bring up some mixed feelings, should an ad campaign use a racial stereotype to sell a product. Does it keep the stereotypes alive in a negative light? This ad is a great example of explicit yellow-face, or a non-Asian person impersonating Asian characteristics. In this case the yellow face is the stereotype of squinty eyes often associated with people with an Asian ethnicity. The three men, that are all of different racial backgrounds, have squinty eyes which the ad portrays is all they need to be “Chinese”. This is troublesome because there is so much more to the Chinese culture than can be narrowed down to one physical characteristic. Another interesting part of this ad is that it takes place out of the country of the United States. The Chinese food restaurant is located in Dubai, which is actually located on the continent of Asia.
I found this compelling because from what I understand it is particularly frustrating for specific Asians to be mistaken for another Asian ethnicity. For example Korean Japanese being called Japanese or Chinese being called Taiwanese. But I would think this ad would hit a little closer to home being as it is being seen IN ASIA! Obviously, the people who approved this campaign idea did not find it offensive and did not consider the racial connotation associated with the ads. Can we jump to conclusions and call this ad campaign racist? I think that would be an irrational decision. I don’t believe in anyway was this ad put out to be derogatory to any particular race. But it does bring up a lot of feelings about race and the boundaries around it. Some times I think dwelling on the supposed racism around any certain ad or comment is almost more ineffective than the ad itself. Why can’t this ad just be humorous and people keep moving with their day. People have to walk on eggshells in order to not offend someone on their racial background. The tiniest things are scrutinized and turned into racist because they are on that fine line between politically incorrect and racist. This ad sits on that very thin boundary. When people look at it, they know it’s pushing the envelope on a racially charged topic but at the end of the day I believe it was produced for the sake of humor. Now whether it was good humor or bad humor that is up to the person seeing the ad.