We Don’t Care About White People, Apparently

August 24th, 2009 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

Oh dear. It seems that we’ve ruffled a few feathers.

Last week, I wrote about a McDonald’s ad campaign in Japan featuring one “Mr. James,” a wacky gaijin nerd who speaks in broken Japanese (pictured), and the outrage that’s ensued over this depiction of white foreigners there. Regarding that outrage, I cited the blog Debito.org, written by an American who’s now a naturalized Japanese citizen, who 1) compared Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit–a reference that has since been removed from Debito’s post, although it was mentioned on Japan Probe, too–and 2) suggested that if McDonald’s put a “full-body ‘ching-chong-chinaman’ with funny glasses and protruding teeth saying ‘Me likee McFlied Lice,’it would never fly over here in America.

But, of course, the ching-chong-chinaman with funny glasses and protruding teeth speaking broken English is a frequent flier here on TV and in corporate advertising, and I provided a couple examples of this (also, um, try reading our blog some time). After seeing my post via HuffPo, Japan Probe took my providing counter-examples of extant “Asian versions” of Mr. Jameses in American pop culture and advertising to mean that I “don’t care” about stereotyping when it happens to white people:

Over at the Huffington Post, a pair of Asian-American women who call themselves Disgrasian has written a short article about Mr. James. The authors seem offended by stereotypes of Asians they witness in American ad campaigns and they’ve also expressed disgust with stereotypes of Asians they believe were present in a recent Marie Claire article about Asian trophy wives. When they look at the Mr. James commercials they recognize the same kind of stereotyping, but don’t care because “Karma’s one wacky bitch, isn’t it?”

Japan Probe then put up a screengrab from one of our vlogs where Diana and I are both smiling, as if it were somehow photographic proof of just how blithe and smug we are about other people’s problems (guess they didn’t realize we were talking about burrito-fucking in that one). But hey, I’m not complaining, that photo of us isn’t half-bad!

I’ve enjoyed Japan Probe in the past, but here their reading of my post is just fatuous and dumb. It’s not that I don’t think Mr. James is an unflattering stereotype of white people in Japan. And it’s not that I don’t care. But I find the outrage leveled at this Mr. James character by certain people to be verging on histrionic. Comparing Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit? Really? Stepin Fetchit was an African-American stereotype popularized in the 20′s and 30′s. He was known as “the laziest man in the world,” and “a befuddled, mumbling, shiftless fool.” But one of these fools is not like the other. It’s important to remember context here, that Stepin Fetchit was a minstrel character created during the time of Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the systematized oppression of African-Americans that followed slavery. I mean, slavery, okay? Over two hundred years of slavery. It’s morally bankrupt to put a fool like Mr. James on par with a fool like Stepin Fetchit; stereotypes like Stepin Fetchit were instruments, ultimately, in reinforcing the second-class status of blacks–and not just socially, mind you, but legally. Stepin Fetchit didn’t merely offend. Stepin Fetchit made the abuse of our constitution, the miscarriage of justice, the legalization of inequality, and the back of the bus only that much easier to live with.

(I can only think that Debito reflected on this, and that’s why the comparison between Mr. James and Stepin Fetchit has been removed from his original post.)

But let’s get back to me not caring. I provided examples of Asian versions of Mr. James in my other post so as not to say, And now we’re even, but rather, Open your eyes, racial stereotyping is all around us, and actually, it’s often tolerated or ignored or dismissed, and yes, it’s sometimes even tolerated or ignored or dismissed by YOU. And that’s why I call Mr. James the face of karma. He’s getting people who don’t want to think about race issues or don’t have to think about race issues to think about them. He’s getting people who can’t be bothered or don’t see what’s wrong with stereotypes so long as they’re stereotypes of other people–the very thing Japan Probe accuses me of–to suddenly declare that negative stereotyping is bad all-around and, by golly, everyone oughta do something about that.

Well good. It’s about time more people did.

[Japan Probe: Mr. James and racial karma]

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

One Response to “We Don’t Care About White People, Apparently”

  1. kissthestick says:

    meh, americans deserve to get taunted

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 5: Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

April 26th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Not all martials arts movies look same.

The cast of HBO's 'Girls'

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 4: Was The HBO ‘Girls’ Controversy About Racism Or Sexism?

April 25th, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

Girl talk.


Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 3, aka Hump Day: What To Do When Your Friend Likes Racist Music

April 24th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Should you dump a friend who likes racist stuff?

office space

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 2: Workplace Segregation + A Little History Lesson

April 23rd, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen

Don’t hate, integrate.

I was trying to give Andrew bunny ears, but I ended up throwing an Asian peace sign instead. Yo, I think that's racist.

Yo, Is This Racist? Podcast f/t DISGRASIAN Day 1: Natural Hair

April 22nd, 2013 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

Wherein we take all of your racist questions. (Some of them, anyway.)

Photo by Lee-Jin Man/AP

Creepy Photo Of S. Korean Soldier Wielding Machine Gun In Front Of Laughing Children Kinda Sums Up Where We Are At This Juncture

April 18th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen



If North Korea Attacks Us, I Have Just One Favor To Ask God

April 5th, 2013 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

North Korea is so hot right now.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 11.22.12 AM

Michelle Malkin Desperately Wants To Be Michelle Obama

February 28th, 2013 | 2 comments | Posted by Jen


Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 2.52.57 PM

Penn State Sorority Girls Will Work For Weed & Beer

December 5th, 2012 | 6 comments | Posted by Jen

Viva racism!


Intern Jasmine’s Links Of The Daysian: The Ass Pants & Butt-Rubbing Edition

November 30th, 2012 | 1 comment | Posted by jasmine

We here at DISGRASIAN™ are going to use our buying power to buy as many Samsung butt-rubbed phones as we can.


Things I Thought I’d Never See: A Dude Rapping In Korean At The American Music Awards

November 19th, 2012 | 3 comments | Posted by Jen

Gangnam Time? Hammer Style?


RIP Twinkies, RIP Name Asians Like To Call Other Asians Who Are Less Asian Than They Are

November 16th, 2012 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

How are we going to insult one another now?!