When I posted the video yesterday, of a 1970s Calgon commercial that showed Asian Americans in a stereotypical role as laundry shop owners who used an “ancient Chinese secret” to get clothes cleaner, it was an homage to an earlier era when such stereotypes in pop culture were commonplace. I didn’t expect that one day after Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month ended, I’d be alerted to a new commercial that uses a fresher stereotype that still portrays us as foreigners.
The TV commercial for KFC’s new “Kentucky Grilled Chicken” shows a bunch of people paired up, arguing whether they like fried or grilled chicken better. You can now have both in the same bucket, KFC announces. The problem is, of the quick flashes of people, there are whites and blacks, young people and older, and… two Asian men dressed as sushi chefs, with their “hachimaki” headbands, hapi coats and aprons.
At first glance, they look like they’re wearing martial arts “gi” (the loose-fitting fighting clothes), which would have made it even worse.
What’s worse, is that these two dudes, who may or may not actually be Japanese, speak in Japanese accents. Continue reading