I like to make fun of white people (and, really, who doesn’t). Even McDonald’s likes to make fun of white people if the white people live in Japan. A new McDonald’s advertising there campaign centers on one Mr. James, a bespectacled idiot who tortures the Japanese language and is quite literally crazed for McDonald’s burgers.
A group called FRANCA, a nonprofit group representing non-Japanese residents in Japan, is organizing a campaign to get McDonald’s to withdraw the ads. In a letter to McDonald’s execs, it writes:
Our association finds the following things problematic:
1) The character speaks broken accented Japanese (using the katakana script, one used for foreign loanwords). The impression given is that Caucasians cannot speak Japanese properly, which is simply not true for the vast numbers of non-native (and Japanese-native) foreigners in Japan.
2) The character is called “Mr. James” (again, in katakana), promoting the stereotype that foreigners must be called by their first names only (standard Japanese etiquette demands that adults be called “last name plus -san”), undoing progress we have made for equal treatment under Japanese societal rules.
3) The image used, of a clumsy sycophantic “nerd” for this Caucasian customer, is embarrassing to Caucasians who will have to live in Japan under this image.
So far, FRANCA doesn’t seem to be having much luck. Mr. James’s is alive and kicking, at least to judge by the photos on his blog.
No doubt white people are more threatened in Japan than they are elsewhere. But it’s hard for me to see the big deal here. If you took those photos from his blog and put in new captions, you’d pretty much have the Verizon guy.
Mr. James : McDonald’s Japan has a gaijin clown [Japan Probe]
FRANCA protest letter to McDonald’s USA HQ re “Mr James” Campaign [DEBITO.ORG] (Thanks to Shari Custer!)