Allow me to go a little Hubie Brown on you for a second: So, you’re McDonalds and you want a new ad campaign that makes people laugh. You know everyone loves some subtle racist undertones so you hire a white guy and make him “speak” accented Japanese and look like a gigantic dork. What could go wrong?

mrjames
The Japanophile Mr. James himself (click to enlarge)

That’s what McDonald’s Japan has done. I found some photos of the new campaign over at debito.org. They’ve enlisted a nice gaijin to dress up in bad glasses, a short sleeve collared shirt and tie, and a sweet hairstyle. Also, his extremely sycophantic Japanese is all written in katakana. For those who don’t read Japanese, katakana is the writing system primarily used to indicate foreign words; so, by using katakana, it is like saying his Japanese clearly isn’t natural, and frankly it does read a bit oddly to me. A rough, quick translation of the speech bubble from the above picture reads as follows:

“Japan is out of this world!
I’m Mr. James!
Japan has overheard that it shocked America, the birthplace of that array of delicious flavors!
Japan is the best!
Japan is so great!
Japan is splendid!
Japan is out of this world!”

I have to admit, that I’m intrigued by the croquette burger, but the egg on the burger isn’t really my thing. I find the whole concept silly, both the ad campaign and the uproar, but there are apparently quite a few people up in arms over this over the top portrayal of an American in Japan. I wonder if these same people got upset at the “Japanese” guys in the KFC chicken commercial. Or the portayal of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Probably not, because they didn’t feel that it was aimed at THEM.

Is it racist? Yeah, a little bit. Could they do without it? Yeah, probably. But, really, it’s not hurting anyone. Am I alone in this? Do you guys find this offensive or just stupid?

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2 Comments

  • The idea that rules (“offensive” speech, taxes, etc….) need only apply to everyone else is an unfortunate sign of these hypocritical times.

    Edited for grammar & clarity.

  • I don’t think I’ve seen that commercial before. I lol’d. As for offensiveness it truly is in the eye of the beholder too often. The people who would get upset over this would probably laugh their asses off after reading an Engish ad. And just because something is technically racist/stereotyped doesn’t mean it can’t be funny.

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