Super Bowl Ads: A Cross-Section of Americana

Ok, first off, I totally want to see Wall-E?

Now that I got that off my chest I want to talk about what of the first genuine "Holy shit that's so fucking racist!" moment I've had in about a month or so. It happened watching the Super Bowl and it involves pandas.

"Oh! Pandas, I love pandas. Being so cute and cuddly soft."

Yeah, so do I. But you won't really love these pandas or, more precisely, the creators of the pandas. Here's the vid.

As you can see from the video the two pandas speak in stereotypical "FOBy" Chinese accents reminiscent of older, and more openly racist, movies of the past that featured Asian characters (unless of course you are Rob Schneider).

The two pandas are inappropriately named "Ling-Ling" and "Ching-Ching." Just by the names themselves you could tell the writers weren't concerned with actually getting Chinese culture "right" they were just concerned with giving the audience Orientalism; that is, Asian cultured projected outwards as seen by Western eyes. These guys couldn't have come up with better names? They couldn't have spent ten minutes on the internet to look for actual Chinese names? (I have yet to meet anyone with the names "Ling-Ling" and "Ching-Ching")

Most of what whites project onto Chinese Americans (as well as the overall Asian American community) can be seen in this ad. The pandas have "funny" accents and are small business owners; they are slightly dumb (Duh! because of their accents!) and can't run the business well.

Jenn from Reappropriate puts it best:
The commercial’s soundtracks include gongs and mandolins, and the writing is in that “chopstix” font that is supposed to be reminscent [sic] of Chinese. “Ching Ching” the wife panda is clearly supposed to be a manipulative laze, who sits on her ass while “Ling Ling” does the work of running the store, playing up the “shrew” stereotype of Asian wives that has become more prevalent of late. “Ling Ling” meanwhile, is viewed as idiotic — eating his (implicitly shoddy) products.

While yellow face isn't practiced in Hollywood anymore (again, save Rob Schneider) Asians continue to be stereotyped in American society through the mainstream media (anyone remember the Abecrombie & Fitch controversy?) as the perpetual foreigners, the model minority, the always working but never having fun males and the "exotic" undersexed women, they continue to be stereotyped as having funny accents (speaking "Chinglish"), and as well as knowing kung-fu and adhering to "old and wise traditions."

Asians are also one of the few minorities in which it is "OK" to make fun of. Would that ad have passed muster at SalesGenie if it featured a bunch of crows speaking Ebonics, being lazy, drinking 40s, and a whole other number of "lazy" Black stereotypes (well...it did pass muster at Disney); answer is probably not. But Asians continue to be seen as the "nonthreatening minority" in many white American eyes and thus OK to make fun of. But those weren't the only ads during the Super Bowl that protrayed racist stereoypes. In fact, the ads ran a whole range of pure Americana. I'm only going to go over them briefly here and give the rest of my analysis for all of the rest in my next blog post.

The first that caught my eye that night was another SalesGenie.com ad. This time featuring a stereotypical Indian with name "Ramesh Chalkrapani" (hwere the fuck do they get their names from, Simpsons writers?). Instead of having a small business like the "Chinese" pandas Ramesh has a stereotypical Indian job: a white color business job where he is stuck in a cubicle. He also has "seven kids," cause...you know...dem Hindus just love to have tons and tons of kids (as did Apu in The Simpsons). One thing about both ads, writes Tom from 41 mtf:
What really monkeys my wrench is that I don’t understand why these commercials were so blatantly racist without making any kind of joke out of it. It was as if Salesgenie.com really didn’t know they were using stereotypes in the first place.

The next ad was for Budlight which featured the horribly racist and vulgar comic Carlos Mencia who is known for stealing jokes from Black comedians and not giving them credit. As from the previous two commercials I blogged about this one predominantly features accents and "awkward foreigners" trying to pick up "American" (read: white or "white-washed" women).

Another internet startup is the culprit in this one. This time from Cars.com. It features a "witch doctor" from either The Amazon or Africa (they probably purposefully try to make him an ambiguous native) in where he shrinks heads and is referred to as more of a commodity than an actual human. Apparently according to mainstream media every single "native" is an expert in shrunken heads or cannibalism as those are the only non-North American natives to appear in popular mainstream media in many years.

Right after that little racist commercial came the infamous "Ching-Ching" and "Ling-Ling" commercial.

Finally there is Taco Bell. The ad features a bunch of white business people trying to get to a meeting. But WAIT! They have the new Taco Bell "Fiesta Platter!" So that means they have to have a fiesta. And of course you can't eat Mexican food without a bunch of Mexicans surrounding you playing music for your enjoyment. Taco Bell can't seem to get away from two bit Mexican stereotypes in their commercials.

Just to keep this post short (like I said earlier) I'll write more of my analysis in another post.