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    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 9th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  This has been bubbling a bit these past couple of days in the Comments Section of a few blog entries, so let’s bring it to the fore and get a discussion going.

    KFC (aka Kentucky Fried Chicken) has been accused of racism, according to various media sources, thanks to a recent advertisement it ran in Australia.  Here it is:

    The Guardian UK writes:
    ========================================
    KFC accused of racism over Australian advertisement
    KFC advert showing Australian cricket fan placating West Indies supporters with chicken has caused anger in America
    Andrew Clark guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 6 January 2010 16.32 GMT

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/06/kfc-advertisement-accused-of-racism

    The Australian arm of the fast-food chain KFC has been accused of racial insensitivity over a television commercial showing an outnumbered white cricket fan handing out pieces of fried chicken to appease a dancing, drumming and singing group of black West Indian supporters.

    Aired as part of a series called “KFC’s cricket survival guide”, the 30-second clip depicts an uncomfortable looking man named Mick wearing a green and yellow Australian cricket shirt, surrounded on all sides in a cricket stand by high spirited Caribbean fans.

    “Need a tip when you’re stuck in an awkward situation?” Mick asks. He then passes round a bucket of KFC chicken, the drumming stops and he remarks: “Too easy.”

    Although intended only for an Antipodean audience, the clip has quickly found its way around the world on the internet, prompting stinging criticism in the US where fried chicken remains closely associated with age-old racist stereotypes about black people in the once segregated south.

    A writer at one US newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, questioned whether the ad was a spoof, remarking: “If it is a genuine KFC advertisement, it could be seen as racially insensitive.”

    Another on-line commentator, Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed, asks: “What’s a white guy to do when he finds himself in a crowd full of black folks? KFC has the answer.”

    KFC Australia has come out fighting, saying that the commercial was a “light-hearted reference to the West Indian cricket team” that had been “misinterpreted by a segment of people in the US.”

    The company said: “The ad was reproduced online in the US without KFC’s permission, where we are told a culturally-based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism.

    “We unequivocally condemn discrimination of any type and have a proud history as one of the world’s leading employers for diversity.”

    In the Australian media, the reaction has been mixed, with some commentators accusing Americans of “insularity”. Brendon O’Connor, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told 9 Network News that the association between fried chicken and ethnic minorities was a distinctly US issue: “They have a tendency to think that their history is more important than that of other countries.”

    The flare-up comes three months after another racial controversy between Australia and the US in which the American singer Harry Connick Jr, appearing as a judge on an Australian television talent show, reacted strongly to a skit in which a group of singers appeared with blacked up faces to emulate the Jackson Five.

    On the show, called “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday“, Connick gave the group zero points and demanded an apology from the broadcaster, remarking: “If they turned up looking like that in the United States, it would be like ‘hey, hey, there’s no more show’.”


    GUARDIAN ARTICLE ENDS
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Then this happens:

    KFC advertisement in Australia sparks race row
    By Nick Bryant BBC News, Sydney
    Friday, 8 January 2010

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8447457.stm

    The Australian arm of the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has had to withdraw an advertisement after accusations of racial insensitivity.

    It showed a white cricket fan trying to pacify a group of rowdy West Indian fans by handing around fried chicken.

    When the advertisement reached America via the internet there were complaints.

    It was accused of reinforcing a derogatory racial stereotype linking black people in the American deep south with a love of fried food.

    The advertisement from Kentucky Fried Chicken features a white cricket fan dressed in the green and gold of the Australian team surrounded by a group of West Indian supporters, who are dancing and singing to a calypso beat.

    He decides to quieten them down by handing around a bucket of fried chicken.
    Picked up by the American media, the advertisement immediately stirred controversy, because it was alleged to have perpetuated the racial stereotype that black people eat a lot of fried chicken.

    The fast food chain’s head office in America said it was withdrawing the advertisement, and apologised for what it called “any misrepresentation” which might have caused offence.

    It is the second time in three months that something broadcast in Australia has caused a racial stir in America.

    The last flare-up was over an entertainment show on the Australian network Channel Nine in which a group of singers appeared with blacked-up faces to impersonate the Jackson Five.
    ENDS
    /////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: Funny thing, this. We get KFC Australia doing a hasty retreat from its controversial commercial days after it goes viral on YouTube, and pulling it pretty quickly.

    Now contrast with the ad campaign by another American-origin fast-food multinational, McDonalds. For those who don’t know, between August and November of last year McDonald’s Japan had that White gaijin stereotype “Mr James” speaking katakana and portraying NJ as touristy outsiders who never fit in. More on what I found wrong with that ad campaign here.

    Yet the “Mr James” ad campaign never got pulled — and the debate we offered with McDonalds Japan was rebuffed (they refused to answer in Japanese for the Japanese media). In fact, the reaction of some Asians in the US was, “Karma’s a bitch“, as in White people in Japan deserve this sort of treatment because of all the bad treatment they’ve foisted on Asians overseas in the past. Still others argue that we can’t expect Japan to understand the history of other countries, or how they feel about certain sentiments found overseas, and one shouldn’t foist their cultural values onto other cultures (this argument usually pops up when one sees minstrel blackface shows etc in Japan). This argument was also made in comments to this blog as well.

    But KFC pulls the ad, in contrast to “Mr James”, where people rushed to defend it in the name of cultural relativism. Why the difference?

    I’m not saying I have the answer to this question. So I bring it up for discussion here on Debito.org. What do readers think?

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    42 Responses to “Discussion: KFC Australia’s “racist” CM vs McD Japan’s “Mr James””

    1. john k Says:

      What concerns me the most is this:
      “When the advertisement reached America via the internet there were complaints.”

      This implies that America is the sole arbiter of whether something is racially abhorrent or not…and if it has a bias towards ‘colour’ as a point of focus, rather than ‘race’, it is very much news worthy. Colour speaks, race doesn’t. (Racial profiling of the US Govt over flight fears is evidence of this).

      Clearly the history of one country cannot be the same as another’s and hence their attitudes are different. Aussies constantly take pot shots at the pohms but so what, it is historical; don’t hear the big policeman in the US making noises about it.

      This speaks volumes about how America and corporations and their CEOs in the US behave or are “forced” to behave. I just wonder how much of the outrage in the US over this KFC advert is ‘political correctness’ and how much is real dismay.

      Since, this is in stark contrast with a “racial overtone” of McD’s having had similar internet airplay and even broadsheet news is of no concern to those corporations in the US who are currently making the very loud noises over this KFC advert..

      Just play the “colour” card not the “race” card and all hell is let loose….double standards? political correctness? Pure politics?…your choice.

    2. Kaoru Says:

      Don’t honestly see what the fuss was with the KFC advert. It was aimed at an Australian audience (where no such stereotype exists) and showed the West Indies supporters getting excited about the cricket the way they really do. More importantly, it was part of a series of commercials with a similar “everybody likes our chicken” theme where the opposition supporters were of whatever country Australia was playing at the time. KFC sponsored the cricket, so to have cricket themed commercials that don’t feature West Indies supporters would just be plain odd.

    3. Malaya Says:

      How come KFC pulls ad while McD Japan keeps theirs? Australia, longer history of colonization, violent cultural clashes, a part of the “Western,” English-language culture that includes vocal black population (the questioned depiction in the CM); Japan = island, relatively still 98.5% ethnically homogeneous (ethnically japanese) in 2009 …also the racist depiction in question, a white guy. Incidentally I found… See More in the same youtube page a racist korean clip it’s UN-believable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1Xdnu90Gc0&NR=1 Oof! This is insane too! It says this was banned in Thailand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRboyW0BruY&feature=related

    4. Allen Says:

      I do not know for sure, but maybe japan would rather keep the ads up pretending there is no problem then to remove it and explain to people that they made a mistake and be shamed. They’d rather keep the ad up then admit that they messed up. If I recall, a japanese cell phone ad was removed after portraying Obama as a monkey. If they can remove their ads, then Mcdonalds can too.

    5. Matt at anarchyjapan Says:

      I have no idea if the following is true, but I will propose the following theory:

      You had a bigger impact on McDonald’s than you think.

      You can test this theory the following way. Watch and see if they try and do a similar ad like Mr. James in the future. My *guess*, and it’s just a *guess* is they won’t. I’m thinking they didn’t want to admit error, but will be keen to avoid any error in the future.

    6. Birdy Says:

      The difference is Legal:

      KFC Australia could risk a potentially damaging lawsuit, so it’s worthless for them to keep the campaign.

      MD Japan, no legal risk to get a law suit, so couldn’t bother to pull the campaign out of the street. No foresee punishment.

      Guess that company using Obama did get a threat of a lawsuit.

      Simple, isn’t it?

    7. Frodis Says:

      The racism angle wasn’t the first one I got from this ad. I got that there were fans from another team sitting in the opposing team’s section. If this had been a sporting event in N. America with fans wearing Philadelphia Flyers shirts surrounded by Boston fans or [choose your favorite major sports rivalry here] then I think people would not have been so quick to jump on the race button as they would have immediately recognized the team rivalry angle. Pulled out of its cultural context, non-cricket people went another way in their analysis. It is my feeling that too much is being made of this and KFC is being unfairly vilified.

    8. Doug Says:

      Agree with Kaoru here.

      The ad was definitely not racist.One should look at the whole series of ads and the fact that the West Indian cricket team had just toured Australia.

      One commentator on TV said what if it was one black person in a crowd of white rowdy fans who handed out meat pies and Fosters to calm the crowd?Another enforcement of stereotypes (i.e. all Aussie blokes eat meat pies and drink Fosters beer)?

      Ad definitely not racist except from ‘American’ point of view.

      However, that said I think thru all this stupity KFC did the right thing and pulled it quick in a good example of common sense.Pity McD’s couldn’t do the same.

      Doug

    9. blvtzpk Says:

      I’m with Kaoru here. As an Australian I never knew the ‘African-Americans eat fried chicken’ stereotype until I lived in the USA. If you asked MOST people in Australia they would not know this either. It’s certainly not part of our popular cultural lore. There are other stereotypes that might be shared about African-Americans in Australia, but eating fried chicken, having a a fondness for watermelon etc aren’t part of them. And I’m sure it was not in the mind of the (I guess Australian-based) advertising company that came up with the idea.

      But there is a strong streak of sensitivity in Australia after that blackface skit on “Hey Hey” (a show I grew up watching and actually appeared on a LONG time ago). The skit was part of a The Gong-show like segment (“Red Faces”) – terrible acts waiting to be told that they are terrible. This “Hey Hey” show was a two-night revival – it had been put out to pasture years ago (1999?). They brought back some former “Red Faces” performers. The screeners of the talent for that night could have been more cautious – this particular group similar a schtick in less sensitive times, and they were repeating it. And this sort of routine is extremely rare on Australian TV. The problem was that Harry Connick Jr was a guest on the show, and one of the judges. If he hadn’t been there and hadn’t voiced his offense, this would have been ignored, but the he did, and the media ran with it. And because he is who he is, it got worldwide coverage.

      Now, if we sat Harry down for a week of regular evening Japanese TV – especially during the ‘specials’ that appear in mid-season, he would have a LOT more to complain about.

      I’m not saying that the blackface routine on “Hey Hey” was appropriate, but it did show some poor judgement of people whose idea of humor hasn’t changed for a long time. The live audience reaction (Australians) in the studio to the performance wasn’t that positive either. They knew a new-ish taboo was being broken, and honestly didn’t know how to react.

      Sorry – this has been long-winded, but I felt the KFC ad was a case of one culture reading into a scenario something that wasn’t there in the first place.

    10. carl Says:

      “They have a tendency to think that their history is more important than that of other countries.”

      Jeez, talk about your stereotypes. I knew this issue would lead to non-Americans taking petty swipes at Americans and, unfortunately, my fears have been confirmed.

    11. Jeffrey Says:

      Just some points I would like to bring up:

      Even though the Australian CM may have been made in good taste and only intented for a local audience, I wouldn’t say it is clearly racially neutral by promoting “universally” great chicken. The ambiguousness arises where the “need to get out of a sticky situation?” question is being raised with a white person sitting among a group of ethnic minorities. Is the answer fried chicken that has no boundaries, or is it fried chicken that is a the cultural favorite of a particular ethnic group? Truthfully, even if I were an Australian, I don’t think I would be getting a clear message from this CM. Why couldn’t the CM have been a white supporter sitting among a group of other white supporters? How would you feel if KFC was promoting soy-sauce flavored chicken by having a white soccer fan sit among a group of Asian supports? Or have about curry flavored chicken with a group of Indians?

    12. HJH Says:

      How come making fun of racial stereotypes is always deemed as racist. Everybody knows these stereotypes have some kinda truth to them, and as long as it’s done in a funny and clever manner, why not? Sometimes it’s a bit cheesy, but c’mon man! People need to stop taking their heritage and themselves so friggin’ serious, drop a a chill pill and watch some Dave Chapelle or something.(His skit ‘The Black White Supremacist’ is pretty much the funniest thing ever.) I was talking to a black friend of mine when I was in NYC (oh wait…’African American’), about the dreaded n-bomb. He didn’t take offense to it. He said: ‘It’s the intent’.

      Like that Mr. James campaign, how can you take offense to that cheese, unless you can identify with a geeky, otaku gaijin, like a lot of Westerns over here. Lighten the ef up.

      – Well, did you bother to read my Japan Times essay on the “Mr James” issue, as to why it was problematic? Once you do, please consider taking on some of the issues raised there. In particular, talk about the issue in terms of “fair play” and “fair game” for minorities when poking fun or humor, something sorely lacking in the Japanese media.

    13. Kaoru Says:

      Jeffrey says:
      > Why couldn’t the CM have been a white supporter sitting among a group of other white supporters?

      The other adverts in the series showed exactly this, with this particular ad centered on the West Indies team who were touring at the time. The point is that those calling the racist angle are only seeing the West Indies supporters as a skin colour, whereas the intended audience just sees a group of opposition supporters (in the same light as Frodis’ example of fans wearing Philadelphia Flyers shirts surrounded by Boston fans). Objectifying the opposition supporters as a skin colour is the only racism I see here.

    14. carl Says:

      FWIW, there was a mock KFC box sold in Japan that had Obama on it and this supposedly raised a similar discussion, albeit on a much smaller scale:

      http://www.japanprobe.com/2009/12/24/obama-kfc-bucket-sold-in-japan/

    15. wombat Says:

      38 year old white male from Darwin , Australia
      i truly think USA has gone over the top once again , i have never heard of “black people like fryed chicken ” un till this came to light
      USA stereotypes do not exist in the Australian society , and to say we must educate our selves in USA stereotypes is arrogant , why should we become as racist as you so we don’t upset you next time ,USA is not the centre of the universe ( 5% of world population )

      to say that ” black people cant eat Fried chicken on tv ” is racist ,
      I’m saying KFC is racist for pulling the add
      hope every black actor in Australia sues KFC because they can not be in a TV commercial
      why not every black actor in the world out side of USA , if the payout significant , it might be worth taking 1 acting class to grab the free money

      this ad is not racist , it was made for an Australian audience , to be shown in Australia where USA stereotypes do not exist
      this ad was posted on Utube in breach of copyright laws ,
      so to say it was available to the USA on the net has no substance
      it is only racist in the USA because the USA is racist , and want the rest of the world to be as racist as they are

      USA has made several countries remove ad’s they find offencive
      I’m sure there a Muslim people in the world who find barely clad women in most USA advertising upsetting and think that they should wear burk-ah’s ( full length Arab dress with face covering )
      will USA only produce ad’s showing Burk-ah ed women now they know ? i doubt it , USA does not own the world ( despite what they think )and to have a double standard like this is expect able from the yanks

      so i think USA should stay out of other countries affairs and look in there own country for racism to be removed , if USA wasn’t racist there wouldn’t be a problem with all these ads

    16. HJH Says:

      Yeah I did read that essay you wrote a while back, and re-read it just now. Granted, there is some bias towards ‘us’ that can be limiting, like being denied housing and business loans (I’ve been denied of those back home too), but still I personally I’m not bothered by the Mr. James campaign.

      It’s not like a Mickey D’s campaign influences the way Japanese think. They’re not stupid. Some Japanese may despise foreigners, but it’s the same everywhere. Plus, I think the whole Japanese ‘ignorance’ is a double-edged sword anyway. I make good money off translating gigs and coordinating projects abroad for Japanese companies.

      I also think we can fight all the ignorance we want and try and show Japanese people it’s not so bad, but the change has to come from within Japan itself. As soon as the youngster from nowadays are in charge, things will change.

    17. Banker Cat Says:

      @blvtzpk

      “The problem was that Harry Connick Jr was a guest on the show, and one of the judges.”

      If you think that the coincidence of Harry Connick sitting as judge on the show was ‘the problem’, then you are sadly mistaken. I will agree with you that similarly insensitive acts appear on Japanese television now and then, but I am lost in terms of seeing that as an apology for what appeared on “Hey, Hey”. I think Harry Connick’s reaction, a tempered but vocal disappointment, shows that he was not the problem, but exactly what that pitiful show needed at the time.

      The point has been made in a number of places, most notably the Disgrasian blog, but KFC is an American company, an one not ignorant of the internet. Regardless of what Aussies think of whether or not the commercial was innocuous, KFC should have calculated the risk of such a goofy commercial going viral. They didn’t, and as a result they are dealing with the consequences.

      Personally, I see the commercial as a bad coincidence. Other than the company, there was nothing American in the commercial. The Japanese commercial implying that Obama was a monkey, on the other hadn, was more offensive, because the subject was in fact American (the actor as well).

      @HJH

      “People need to stop taking their heritage and themselves so friggin’ serious, drop a a chill pill and watch some Dave Chapelle or something.”

      I love the “what’s the big deal?” argument. It’s the quickest way to demonstrate an incomplete education of the issue at hand. And as far as I’ve experienced, “black” is not politically incorrect, so get over yourself, already.

    18. Banker Cat Says:

      @Wombat

      “hope every black actor in Australia sues KFC because they can not be in a TV commercial
      why not every black actor in the world out side of USA , if the payout significant , it might be worth taking 1 acting class to grab the free money”

      Mate, give it another read before clicking “Submit Comment”. You’re not making any sense. I can understand the Aussie pride, but KFC’s a company that is now calculating the damage (mostly PR, most probably outside Australia) due to this commercial. It’s that calculation that determines whether or not a company will yank a commercial.

    19. Mark Hunter Says:

      HJH….gotta disagree. Mr. James doesn’t seem like a big thing, but if one believes that young people are easily brainwashed, as I do, then the frequent examples of media downplaying gaijin as people to be taken seriously (think blackface, false noses, outright mocking of body language, etc on TV shows and ads) then it is not a stretch to think that maybe this lack of respect may aid in denying gaijin rights that Japanese would expect. This has huge implications for foreigners who come to Japan as adults, but even more so for children of foreign people who have been born and raised in Japan and who must suffer bullying and other trauma because of the lack of education about basic human rights and respect that ethnically Japanese would expect as natural. I see no evidence that the “youngsters” have the knowledge or compassion to actually change sytems that allow this downplaying of the foreigner to continue. Just because you are ok doesn’t mean that everyone else is. I agree that Japanese people, in general, are not stupid. Ignorant, yes. Only education can change ignorance. Cheers.

    20. Jeffrey Says:

      >>Kaoru

      Oh, so I am racist for identifying a group of people by their skin color? I beleive the definition of racism is the belief that a race of people is inherently superior to that of another, or something along those lines. Now when did I express those beliefs?

      What I was talking about is the message the CM was sending out whether or not it was intending to actually do so. Images in the media are always chosen for a specific purpose. Someone acutally decided to have a group of dark-skinned people be the focus of this CM and implied that fried chicken was they way to become friends with them. If the message was purely a “fried chicken crosses all sports boundaries” slogan, then there would have been no problem using an all white or other racial group with different sports jerseys on. That would convey this message more convincingly. But no, someone thought there would be no problem with depicting a single white guy having a “problem” sitting among another racial group.

      A large group of people aroung the world interpreted this CM as racially problematic because it had a white guy described as being in such an “awkward” situation. You can call us all idiots or ignorant for felling this way, but it still hurts when stuff like this is aired on TV. That’s why KFC Australia pulled this plug on this CM. It’s plain common courtesy. Guess you feel no problem with being racially insensitive.

    21. Doug Says:

      Wombat

      American male a bit older than you. I agree with you. Do not make the mistake of going down the path of the United States. Yes we had our race issues and yes we overcame them. Now we have a 1/2 black – 1/2 white President. If you look at the history of the US this is actually more amazing than if President Obama is purely black.

      But now it seems that we cannot acknowledge that…we have to take it further. What it leads to is those (such as me) that disagree philosphically with our President being called a “racist”, “nazi”, etc. etc. Even President Carter indicated that those disagreeing with Obama’s policies are racist. That is pure insanity. It is a great way to squash populist debate or direct the population in the desired direction though.

      Wombat…you are right. Other countries do not need American values imposed on them. I do not think you should educate yourselves in our stereotypes. Australia is not the US.

      I think the U.S. has become hypersensitive to the issue and I have no issues with the commercial. I am not Australian. Perhaps a black American would see it different than I do.

      Regarding Mr. James. Perhaps most Japanese actually see foreigners in this way. Perhaps to most Japanese Mr. James is very cool (especially the target audience). Maybe most Japanese do not see this as insulting rather the other way around…a step forward by having a foreigner as the front man for their product.

      Debito-san is Japanese and I think likely sees this in a different light than the rest of us, which I completely understand. I would imagine those that have nationalized would see this differently than those of us that have not.

      The Mr. James issue does not bug me that much, but HJH I do not think Debito-san needs to lighten the Ef up. As a Japanese with kids that are of mixed race he has much more of a vested interest.

      Cheers

    22. Simon Says:

      >>Jeffrey Says:
      {Someone acutally decided to have a group of dark-skinned people be the focus of this CM and implied that fried chicken was they way to become friends with them. If the message was purely a “fried chicken crosses all sports boundaries” slogan, then there would have been no problem using an all white or other racial group with different sports jerseys on. That would convey this message more convincingly. But no, someone thought there would be no problem with depicting a single white guy having a “problem” sitting among another racial group.}

      Jeffrey, it really appears that you are forcing your own racially-biased beliefs on the matter. The facts are:
      1) This is ONE in a series of SIX commercials with a VARIETY of groups included.
      2) The focus is NOT that the West Indian Cricket Team is dark-skinned and therefore unnerving to the Australian guy. It’s that he’s an AUSTRALIAN CRICKET TEAM SUPPORTER sitting in the WEST INDIAN CRICKET TEAM SUPPORTERS’ AREA.
      3) The commercial is selling KFC. The “C” stands for CHICKEN. If this were McDonald’s, and they were passing around burgers instead of chicken, would you have a problem?

      I want to repeat (2) because it’s the point that you and people sharing your opinion are missing. The ad is about CRICKET TEAMS, not racial groups. Cricket teams! Hey, did you know that the Indian cricket team is comprised of Indians? And that they happen to have dark hair and dark skin? Now, if we are to avoid this silly “YOU SIR ARE A RACIST” hysteria in the future, should we depict all members of the West Indian and Indian cricket teams as white? Microsoft tried that in Poland and look where that got them.

      {A large group of people aroung the world interpreted this CM as racially problematic because it had a white guy described as being in such an “awkward” situation. You can call us all idiots or ignorant for felling this way, but it still hurts when stuff like this is aired on TV. That’s why KFC Australia pulled this plug on this CM. It’s plain common courtesy. Guess you feel no problem with being racially insensitive.}

      A small vocal group of people mostly in the United States cried racist because of their own racist-tinted viewpoint. Now, you gave us permission to call you and idiot or ignorant. I’d love to take you up on that opportunity, but I’ll be gracious and pass. :-)

    23. john k Says:

      Simon

      Cricket is a global game, except in the US. Hardly surprising the point you made is lost on Jeffery!

    24. Jeffrey Says:

      >>Simon and John K

      I am not going to even bother writing all the things that are wrong with your immature, arrogant, and biased remarks towards me and other people living around the world. I get enough such crap in my daily life that it is a waste of time for me to make further issue with a couple of people from cyberspace I hope to never meet in person. It seems to me that you are more ignorant about these matters than I am.

      Like I said before, it doesn’t really matter what the intent of the CM was. The matter of fact is that a lot of people, not just me, not just a couple, were hurt and offended by this footage. Whenever something like that happens, it is common sense to make an apology and stop airing the offending footage. There was a reason KFC Australia did not want this CM to be aired outside of the country, and it was probably because they knew that in the eyes of most other people, what they made could be interpreted as racially problematic.

    25. Banker Cat Says:

      @Doug

      “Even President Carter indicated that those disagreeing with Obama’s policies are racist.”

      This statement is inaccurate. Go find what he said, and the context his comments were in, and perhaps your comment that this is pure insanity will change.

      @Simon

      Your cultural differential spiel is irrelevant. The commercial became a problem because KFC is a US company. Commercials unfortunately don’t keep to their hemisphere as well as they used to (an endorsement spot in the old days could have a clause attached to it saying that the commercial should never be aired in the actor’s home country, or outside the country of intended audience, etc. Nowadays, every stupid Japanese commercial that Paul Newman or Brad Pitt ever did can probably be viewed on YouTube.), and KFC should have done one more round of “what if” scenarios before going forward with the commercial. Or maybe up until now, the commercials get produced and aired without approval from anyone back at world headquarters. Who knows.

      The “fact” is that KFC fucked up. The proof of that is that the commercial got yanked.

    26. Lea Says:

      I’m European, and as much as I see Simon’s point, I found the racial undertone a bit weird too.

      Also, in the YouTube era, Australian ads don’t just get viewed in Australia. So if Americans get offended because of the American “black people + fried chicken” stereotype, I don’t find it surprising if KFC pulls the ad.

      I think people are a bit too quick to cry “Americans imposing their values!!1″, when in reality Americans simply tend to be a bit more sensitive (in a good way) about these issues because of the racial heterogeneity of their country.

    27. blvtzpk Says:

      @Banker Cat

      “If you think that the coincidence of Harry Connick sitting as judge on the show was ‘the problem’, then you are sadly mistaken… I will agree with you that similarly insensitive acts appear on Japanese television now and then, but I am lost in terms of seeing that as an apology for what appeared on “Hey, Hey”.”

      It was not an apology – the fact that if a lesser known person had said something on the show it would have garnered far less attention. Did it need the attention it got? That’s up to you, I guess, but I did not enjoy the ‘look how racist Australians are’ blowback based on the poor judgement of the people running the show.

      But please do not read that ‘problem’ as being an ‘apology’ – the content of the remainder of my post, I believe, does not suggest in any way that it was an apology or condoning of the act on that part of the show.

    28. Taylor Says:

      #3 Malaya: Japan, and Japanese people in general, are less sensitive to the plight of minorities (i.e. they just don’t care if NJ are offended)

      #4 Allen: If your cm offends blacks in Japan, for example, there will be protests in the U.S. by black (& white) interest groups. If you offend whites (think “Mr. James), well, nobody cares. In fact, “karma/payback is a bitch” articles are written instead…

      #12 HJH: Negative stereotypes have log lasting effects. If you are Caucasian, speak decent Japanese and live in Japan, chances are the Mr. James CM bothered you, by suggesting to the larger population that you cannot write Kanji, or understand normal Japanese.

      #20 Jeffery: Ad this to your definition of racism – treating people different, based on their race. Still don’t get it? How about being excluded from participation in events, being denied housing, credit, entry to businesses or employment because of your race?

      Cheers

      – Are you rewording posters’ ideas or responding to them?

    29. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      OK, dropping all the “X is more racist than Y” snipes for the moment.
      What is signifficant here is how the companies in question responded to criticism.

      KFC Australia – responded to criticism from ANOTHER COUNTRY. That the USA is home to KFC probably had a lot of leverage, but the fact is KFC Australia decided to pull the ad.

      McDonalds Japan – IGNORED criticism from WITHIN JAPAN. McDonalds USA couldn’t/didn’t provide enough pressure for them to remove the ad.
      “It’s not racist, you just need to lighten up”

    30. Simon Says:

      I have a couple of questions for Jeffery and others:

      1) Are you West Indian?
      2) Do you honestly think that, unlike the Mr James ad, the point of the ad was to insult or otherwise denigrate West Indian people?
      3) When you watch the ad, do you really think “That’s a group of BLACK PEOPLE” before you think “That’s a group of WEST INDIAN CRICKET TEAM SUPPORTERS”?

      That’s what’s wrong with you. You see the skin colour before the person. Australians (except for a moronic minority) don’t see skin colour when we look at someone. We just see a person.
      Maybe the problem lies with your own viewpoint?

      Big difference between this ad and Mr James: Mr James was using the Mr James guy as a point of ridicule. This ad, like the OTHER FIVE ADS THAT FEATURED OTHER GROUPS OF CRICKET SPECTATORS, did not use race, ethnicity or anything as a target at all. Just cricket affiliation!

    31. Jeffrey Says:

      >>Taylor

      I believe what you are talking about is racial discrimination, which is in many cases motivated by racism.

    32. Doug Says:

      Banker Cat

      Here is the clip and the quote underneath. You can take it the way you wish

      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/09/15/carter_cites_racism_inclinatio.html

      “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,”

      How you interpret it probably depends on how you feel about the President. Unfortunately racism is being politicized and used as a means to gain a desired end in the US these days.

      I think President Carter was dead wrong.

      Interesting how the Harry Reid episode raised its head during this discussion.

      Anyway…sorry a bit off topic as related to Japan.

      – And I think we’ll bring this branch of the conversation (about how to interpret Carter) to a close here. I don’t think it was really all that necessary to include with your point to begin with.

    33. Andi Says:

      I agree with Simon, and I am very disappointed that KFC cowed under the pressure of uninformed Americans who argued from their own race-influenced perspective. If all you could see in that video was fried chicken being handed to people who happened to be black (the point of the ad was that they’re West Indies supporters, but fine), and you got upset by it, that speaks volumes about your racial attitudes, not Australians’.

      Tell you what Jeffrey, should everyone else just consult America before we do anything?

      – We’re going in circles now. Anything more to add?

    34. David B Says:

      An interesting discussion. I don’t believe the ad was racist for the following reason. KFC sells chicken and they are the sponsors of the Australian cricket team. During the cricket season their ads feature chicken and references to the current cricket matches (Australia and the opposing team). As such in recent times they have associated chicken, in particular KFC, with the West Indies team, New Zealand and currently Pakistan. They almost certainly have for England, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

      The question is should KFC in Australia have to allow for stereotypes present in the US? If so, what must be considered? Ads making reference to religion will offend some other religion around the world. Cows are sacred to Hindu’s so all reference to beef should be outlawed?

      For the comparison of responses to the McD and KFC ads it is interesting to see the difference. Is this due to the country in which the ad was aired or the “minority” involved or something completely different?

      [unsubstantiated rumor about Harry Connick Jr.'s past deleted]

    35. M&M Says:

      This new commercial from Tokyo Gas makes for painful viewing(there is a similar one with Japanese domestic tourists). It is just lame rather than racist. I have seen much “worse” stereotypes on western tv…but was the I love Roppongi T-shirt really necessary.

      http://home.tokyo-gas.co.jp/pa-cho/tvcm/m2009_13_b.html

    36. David B Says:

      [unsubstantiated rumor about Harry Connick Jr.'s past deleted]

      Attached is the substantiation. As I mentioned as an aside, related to the furor about Hey Hey its Saturday / Harry Connick black face issue, it was found that Harry Connick Jr, who was extremely offended by black face, had also done it earlier in his career.

      http://www.breitbart.tv/update-does-uncovered-video-make-harry-connick-jr-a-blackface-hypocrite/

      – Did you actually watch the video? He is not in blackface. Terminating this line of discussion now.

    37. Jeffrey Says:

      >Simon

      In response, like I said before, it doesn’t matter what the point of the CM initially was. What is important is that the footage that was shown is racially problematic and offensive to a large group of people.

      That is a huge generalization you are making about all Australians. I do believe, however, that your country has its own dark history with its blatant discrimination towards aborigines and people of mixed race. How would you like it if an American CM for KFC promoted chicken by having a white explorer being captured by a bunch of bushmen and using the food as a means of escape? Not very tasteful, is it? Just like your cricket CM too.

    38. Kakui Kujira Says:

      Jeffrey said:
      In response, like I said before, it doesn’t matter what the point of the CM initially was. What is important is that the footage that was shown is racially problematic and offensive to a large group of people.

      I think you have completely missed the point. You seem to be saying it’s offensive because people who are not represented in the ad and, moreover, weren’t intended to be in the audience for the ad, are offended by it. What does non-African-Americans being offered fried chicken have to do with African-Americans being offended?
      Following your logic, any advertisement for bacon, alcohol, underwear, fur, watermelons, bikinis, Wankel rotary engines, and coconuts is inherently offensive.

    39. Justin Says:

      A lot of the commenters here seem to have a relatively undeveloped understanding of what constitutes racism. I hate political correctness with a passion, but even in the most charitable view, the KFC commercial was blatantly insensitive and narrow-minded.

      Let’s assume that the “black people like fried chicken” stereotype is unknown in Australia. Even if we leave that out, the ad is still extremely racist. It positions the one white person as the protagonist; we the audience are supposed to identify with him. Our nice white man just wants to enjoy the cricket match, but the noisy black spectators are making that impossible. Wouldn’t it just ruin your day if a mob of strange black people surrounded you and made a lot of noise?

      Make no mistake, the black spectators are not portrayed as individuals, but as an unreasoning mob. The mob is capable only of catering to its most basic, animal urges: Make noise! Eat food! It can’t be reasoned with through dialogue.

      It’s all too much for our white protagonist. He cleverly devises a plan to get what he wants by placating the mob with food, in much the same way as one would distract a dog by throwing it a bone. Having intelligently thought his way through the problem, the white man can now relax and enjoy the cricket match in a civilized manner.

      It might be possible to ignore these racist elements of the commercial in a country where blacks have always lived together with whites on an equal footing free from discrimination. But Australia is most assuredly not that country.

    40. CJ Says:

      So how does Kazuhide measure on the offensive stereotype scale?

    41. Simon Says:

      Justin. You’re doing the same as Jeffrey: viewing them as black people first and as West Indian cricket supporters second. I assume you wouldn’t have a problem with the ad if one single change were made, replacing the West Indians with English supporters? Then you could feel relieved that there were no people with dark skin in the commercial?

      You sir, are a racist.

      “Our nice white man just wants to enjoy the cricket match, but the noisy black spectators are making that impossible. Wouldn’t it just ruin your day if a mob of strange black people surrounded you and made a lot of noise?”

      Nope. More like this.

      “Our nice Giants fan just wants to enjoy the baseball game, but being seated in Tigers fans’ section makes that impossible. Wouldn’t it just ruin your day if a mob of Tigers fans surrounded you and made a lot of noise?

    42. Justin Says:

      You, sir, are an idiot.

      – And you sirs, both of you, will stop right there.

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