YellowShirtGirl: Finale on 'Ominous Asian' Imagery

By James Fallows

Finale, at least from me. A few incoming items on the "we take your jobs" / "YellowShirtGirl" discussion.

1) From Julia Kim Smith, a further HTML exploration. 
hoekstra.jpg
[If you're tempted to write in: No, that's not what the HTML actually shows. <blog class="joke" > ]

2) From Funny-or-Die, a parody that is not exactly Oscar Wilde-like in its rapier subtlety but that has its moments. My favorite is in the first 20 seconds, a joke on the theme of "my excellent math ability!" Plus a Jeremy Lin reference right after that.

3) From a reader who notes our old friend "false equivalence" in an NYT item on the controversy:

While I think this is a relatively minor offense, I just thought it was interesting that the New York Times article you linked to in today's blog made certain to include this:
>Senator Stabenow has done some China-blaming of her own. From her Senate Web site: "China has a clear pattern of flagrantly violating trade rules and it is long past time to stand up to them."  And on Monday, in a conference call with reporters, she said, "We can't continue to sit back and let China's policies cost us jobs.''<
How is this even remotely comparable to the offensive commercial in question?  Why does it deserve inclusion?  It just serves to tar Senator Stabenow, unfairly, with the same brush.

I liked the NYT item but the reader has a point. It's one thing to talk about trade rules, currency valuation, etc and something else to run "me likee!" ads. The "to be sure" reflex really is deep, for all of us in the journalism business.

4) From Chauncey DeVega at Daily Kos, a clip that exactly matches the "visual dog-whistle" that I said the video was evoking, with its use of a smiling but treacherous young Asian beauty, issuing broken-English come-ons to the unsuspecting Yanks. This is a scene not from Apocalypse Now but from Full Metal Jacket -- a movie made 25 years ago about events 20 years before that, but whose imagery left a mark in the public mind. Someone involved with this ad had seen this movie. Really, the scene is a remarkable match to the Hoekstra ad:


Up-to-date bonus: The Nancy Sinatra soundtrack can be a hipster allusion to today's Lana Del Rey controversies.

5) From a reader of the Vietnam Generation, with extensive experience in China -- and it's not me! -- spelling out the imagery:
*  The ad is actually aimed at angry, declining Vietnam-era people.  The imagery is of southeast Asia.  The young lady looks far more Vietnamese than she does Chinese.  If the ad agency is that smart (and not simply guilty of "seen one Asian/seen 'em all"), they aimed at a specific demographic in Michigan, the fat droopy-mustached "men" left over and falling into the shadows ever since Vietnam.

*   The young lady is overwhelmingly Asian American. [Versus actually foreign.]  Just listen to her.  This ad's real insult is to millions of American young women of Asian descent,who look and speak like this young woman.

*   Most important, Hoekstra with this pathetic loser's cri-de-coeur hands to the cynics and the tough hombres in Beijing the tool with which to bolster their own grip; they point to stupid China-bashing artifacts like this one (and all the others at the TPM site) and say, whenever some American rightly calls attention to some rotten thing they're doing, "There they go again!  It's just more China-bashing."  Thanks, Pete, for making all the things you don't like about China all the more likely to succeed.
I think that's it; thanks to all.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/yellowshirtgirl-finale-on-ominous-asian-imagery/252772/