Thursday, July 3, 2008

Obama monkey business

I watched CNN for half an hour because of teasers for this story:

My first reaction was just like the Muricans in the story: There you go again, as Ronald Reagan would say. Sometimes Japan just doesn't get it.

But wait a minute. It's the company's mascot and monkeys are cultural icons. The guy saying 'Ahhhh, Obama-san' doesn't look like he's even made the connection. Maybe it says more about us than them.

It reminds me of the Darkie toothpaste I used to find on shelves when I first came to Saipan. No big thing to the Chinese, but I was mailing tubes off to the States. That is, until I realized I was buying into the hand, kind of like CNN.

Colgate-Palmolive sure didn't make that mistake: as you can see the brand is Darlie now that they've picked up the company. No bad taste toothpaste in that corporate empire.

That's furriners. What's the t-shirt guy's excuse? He claims no racist intent, that he just thought Obama looked like Curious George. Uh-huh, and what caused that connection to leap into your mind?

I'll admit I can even see it now that it's brought up. But criminy, anyone who's lived in these United States knows the baggage you claim by portraying blacks as monkeys. Maybe that's his problem: these United States. Part of our baggage.

Here's a clip on the t-shirt, in case you missed it:


cactus said...

You're right -- it says more about us than them.

What it says about us, mostly, is that we expect the whole world to know, understand, adopt, and internalize attitudes and taboos that we only have ourselves because of our own particular history of race relations.

Why exactly should a Japanese think it's any worse to portray a black man as a monkey than to do the same to a white man? Why would we even want him to think that way, other than just because we assume that he should think like we do?

To the Temple University clown who displayed his own reflexive and unthinking cultural arrogance by proclaiming, "Cluelessness is not an excuse," I say: "You're clueless."

cactus said...

I also say: "I see the real racist here, and it is you."

gone wid de win said...

Ahs ben sayin’ it for yeahs, dat Darkie toofpace be da bes dere is, n dats a fac.

Black hole said...

It doesn't work on pugua, ne?

KAP said...

Two anonymous votes that it's about us.

I don't quite know what to say about the Professor. It's more than racism. Cultural imperialism sounds stiff and pedantic, but it comes close. Ethnocentric is closer.

cactus said...

Don't be too shy about using the term "cultural imperialism." Without it, how could we describe so much that we see around us here on a daily basis?

Anonymous said...

The links are dead did You tube pull them?

KAP said...

They work fine for me. Maybe you have an older Flash version.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Barack should just win.

KAP said...

I think he missed his natural slogan: 'Barack to the Future'.