Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another entry from the land of bizarre advertisements

Scottish Koreans...a contradiction...REALLY?!

[Tip of the hat to Angry Asian Man]

I shudder to think what they would make of my Chinese Jamaican family. Or the resulting advertisement. I mean, you can all see it, right? People with Asian faces with dreadlocked hair speaking in Jamaican patois. UGH. Lets hope the ad people at Starburst are not reading this blog (really, what are the chances, right?). Moreover, isn't this commercial really questioning the ability to embrace two different ethnic cultures? So does that mean that all people of color, or maybe most particularly Asian Americans, are contradictions because we are BOTH Chinese AND American? And what do you do with the multiracial person who is black and Cuban and Vietnamese and American? That would just blow the minds of the Starburst execs.

By the way, if you are all wondering why I'm not responding to comments (although I am posting them, really) and why I'm slow to write new posts, I have a deadline to some editors and I've been working until about 1-2am every night. When I told my father this, he tsk-tsked and was very sympathetic. But the truth is, I'm the one that set the deadline, and I am actually enjoying the work. It makes me a true academic geek I guess. But I also think that I feel lucky/blessed that I genuinely love what I do. It does mean that blogging is taking a back seat for now. But don't worry, I'll be back!


idriss said...

The catch-phrase for me in that advert is "contradiction is good". In some way, it means that a mix of cultures is good, it means that do not be stuck on stereo-types because you will be pleasantly surprised.
This is what makes America the great nation that it is-the variety of people and the mix of cultures. A typical stereotype would have been of the two Asians speaking in an Asian accent (or not good English) but the advertisement broke away from that to put across the message that expect to be surprised in life. Expect the unexpected, that its possible you will run into an Asian that speaks Jamaican and its OK.
The advert plays a role in tearing down the wall of stereotypes.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your comment. I think that your interpretation is the more positive of the possibilities (and certainly more positive and celebratory than my own take).

Contradiction, or the melding of various races and ethnicities may, indeed, be good--but there are a few things that I think make me suspicious of seeing this ad as a celebration of hybridity.

1) Although you say that this is what makes America a great nation, the ad seems to be set in Scotland--so we get to laugh at the funny things that Scottish people do. In some ways, the ad is really playing off of Scottish stereotypes rather than Korean--the Korean part seems to be a sidenote; they could have been black or Mexican or Japanese.

2) Which means I don't see this ad tearing down stereotypes so much as just reinforcing ones that we have (all Scottish men wear kilts and hang out at old stone churches and play bagpipes) so much as throwing in a little "twist"

3) I'm sure there ARE Korean Scottish people, and there are certainly mixed race Americans of Scottish and Korean ancestry, and this ad just seems to mock that combination -- enforcing a message that those who do combine Scottish and Korean heritages or ancestries seem to be a contradiction hence an incompatability, one only resolved through a candy.