…And a Pair of Buck Teeth, Pronto!

Racist ad

I’m surprised Racialicious hasn’t picked this apart, yet: Six Flags’ “More Flags, More Fun!” campaign, and its English-gargling Asian pitchman.

Who comes up with this crap [and, typically, this is where many people would insert the words “in 2008”]?

But I’ve long concluded that white supremacy is not receding, but refining; futuristic. Year-dates, thus, become merely a way of organizing information, like tabs in a filing cabinet drawer, not markers, necessarily, of “progress.”

Whooooooooooooo!!!As may be obvious, “More Flags” is easily the worst depiction of an Asian person I’ve seen in advertising recently, and perhaps ever. Interestingly, it comes on the tail of what I’d argue is the best depiction of an Asian person in a commercial: The coffee shop denizen / land speed racer from Washington “WaMu” Mutual’s “Salt Flats” piece, right. (I’d encourage you to visit the web site of Method, the efx house which posted the spot, where you can see a gorgeous HD version of it, noting, perhaps for the first time, as I did, the rhinestones on the driver’s helmet.)

One of the basic tests one has to run when looking at how people are portrayed, racially, in media is to ask, Would this still “make sense” if a person with a different racial classification was in this role?

“Make sense” doesn’t just mean narratively. It can also mean historically, legally, socially, or traditionally.

Does race matter?So, Ikea’s 2002 “Moo Cow Milker” commercial, right, for example, fails this test, and does so blatantly and miserably. Make the white male non-white, and the non-white woman white. (Indeed, in that near post-9/11 era, make the white man a bearded Saudi.) For many white viewers, especially, the piece would cease to be advertising and enter the realm of endurance, bordering on assault.

Both words, ironically, may describe what Asian people, watching the Six Flags ad, feel. I’m not Asian, and I certainly do.



#1 Sandra Phillips on 04.23.08 at 8:20 pm

Tks Media Assassin, I hadn’t heard that rule of thumb before about replacing racial classifications and seeing if it still makes “sense” in all those contexts you outline.

This is my first comment. I love receiving your posts and have been feeling a bit voyeuristic through not commenting, but loving it all.

#2 Mark Cabrera on 04.26.08 at 5:55 pm

Love the site, this is my first comment too.

If you don’t like these commercials, wouldn’t it make more sense not to even post them? After all, there’s no such thing as bad press and you’re making it harder for people to boycott these companies.

#3 Kevin Huxford on 04.29.08 at 3:21 pm

I can’t really get Cabrera’s logic that shining a light on the issue is far more likely to backfire. You have to get the info out and let society choose how to deal with it and all.

I was shocked that someone would think a caricature of an asian guy would be a great way to sell an amusement park to the masses.

#4 Mark Cabrera on 05.04.08 at 9:01 pm

Even if you are posting an ad for the sake of deconstructing/criticizing it, you are still helping the company with their marketing. Regardless if people think the ad is harmful or harmless, it doesn’t matter: “Six Flags” is now in their head, and, if applicable, will now be a contender in their choice of entertainment.

IOW, I wasn’t even thinking of Six Flags until Harry posted this ad.

Perhaps the best thing to do is like what Lisa Simpson and Alan Alda were singing in the Treehouse of Horror special: Just don’t look, just don’t look . .. (I hope someone got that reference)

#5 e-dub on 10.23.08 at 2:32 pm

That’s actress Nicole Bilderback. I knew she looked familiar, but couldn’t place her until i checked out that youtube video. Mystery solved 🙂

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