The ever-annoying Six Flags spots you’ve undoubtedly seen, in which an Asian man yells, “Six Flags, More Flags, More Fun!” are being called ‘racist’ in a report by AM New York. A representative from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York said, “It’s a pretty offensive ad, not only because of the thick accent, but also because someone is screaming at you.”
It’d be insensitive for us to tell that representative what she should and shouldn’t take offense to. Nonetheless, there just doesn’t seem to be much of a case here, when you consider what it takes to really be “racist.”
More after the jump.
We’re not here to make a determination as to the legitimacy of the claim; however, there are some questions that come to mind. Namely, is it racist to use a thick-accented person in an advertising? What if the man had a southern accent, but maintained his Asian appearance? Or an English accent? Russian? Would it matter if his face didn’t match his accent? Are those spots for pasta sauce, in which Italian chefs cry when they realize their restaurants are empty because of a store bought product?
There’s not a distinction to be made either way — we’re simply asking for some clarification of what racism looks like (in advertising) and if this is it. Is it racist to show blond haired Caucasian women shopping? What about Irish people singing on a grassy hill?
Megan Stride, who wrote the article, calls the ad an apparent “riff on Japanese game shows featuring pop-up, hyper salesmen.”
That description makes the ad sound more like flattery than racism. Isn’t imitation the ultimate form of flattery? If so, then the rep making this claim is in effect dissing Japanese pop culture.
On the issue of the screaming guy; couldn’t a person just turn down the television volume? The mute button is there for a reason.
We suppose maybe we don’t know what racism looks like any longer, at least in advertising. As consumers it’s prudent to be on the lookout for lame work like the Six Flags stuff. But are we looking too hard for a reason to complain? The answer, in ad terms at least, seems to be yes, consumers are. I didn’t get mad at Trojan in the spot where a bunch of pigs and one uber-attractive woman are sitting in a bar; but when one pig buys a Trojan, he turns into a good-looking guy. Just sayin’.