Media Monday: The Whale

Take a minute. Watch it. How does it make you feel?

For me I feel annoyed and insulted. I saw it last night while watching Criminal Minds on my Direct TV. After this commercial I seriously considered changing my satellite service provider.

Looking into it online I found out that the Actor in the commercial is Dat Phan the winner of the first season of Last Comic Standing. He mostly catapulted to fame by making fun of his Asian mom. And I get it. I frequent My mom is a fob I used to keep a list of all the amusing things my mom says to me.

But this just takes all the bad stereo types that their are of Asians/Chinese people specifically and shows them off in one setting. It is roles like this and people willing to play roles like this. People who find roles like these funny. This is the reason that there are almost no roles for Asian American actors in Hollywood. And certainly not leading roles.

No instead they are regulated to the Breakfast at Tiffany's Mr. Yunioshi (played by the yellowfaced Mickey Rooney) roles that that allow them to stay otherized and allowed to be the funny afterthought. They get to be the out-there side kick. The hot porcelain doll. The wicked evil dragon lady. When can I just watch a show where the Asian American actors get to play people?

One of my favorite and (in my opinion) most accurate representations of the Chinese-American experience is an indie movie called Shanghai Kiss that was made in 2007 starring Ken Leung, Hayden Panetteire and Kelly Hu. The plot is a bit long so I'll just leave you with the trailer

If that catches your interest you can watch the whole movie for free on Hulu.

Racism is still racism. Even if Dat Phan thought it was funny and wanted to play along. It doesn't excuse the fact that it is incredibly offensive. Just because people have been conditioned to ignore instances like this in favor of keeping the norm (I just KNOW there are people out there who will say something along the lines of "Well, I'm Asian and I didn't find it offensive") doesn't mean that it isn't. and it certainly doesn't mean that this sort of blatant racism is okay. I for one and not planning on signing on with direct TV again next year.


Hanah said...

I think it's a little frustrating when people of any race and sometimes gender take stereotypical/ derogatory rolls, I mean, it's not helping any one.

Kwilt Noob said...

I've been chewing on this for a day or so. Being that I am a card carrying, mayonnaise eating WASP, I am completely unqualified to comment intelligently on the stereotypes found in this add. So I will take another approach.
What is there in this commercial that would make anybody think, "Gee, I think this Direct TV thing is something I might want to purchase."? It doesn't tell me anything about the product and what it offers that other similar products don't. It just tells me that asian men who like to gamble also like Direct TV.
I think they also did a similar add recently with a man who sounded distinctly Eastern European, and I was left scratching my head again. I remember looking at my daughter and saying, "The Russian mafia likes Direct TV, and so should I?"
Then I picture the Direct TV execs sitting around a board room table listening to their marketing team sell them on these adds. Seriously. Who signs off on this crap?
It boggles the mind.