Bank of Canada bans image of Asian-looking woman from new $100 bills over ethnicity criticism
August 18, 2012 8:02 AM   Subscribe

The Bank of Canada has changed the design of its new $100 bill after receiving numerous comments from focus groups that the woman pictured looked like she was of Asian descent.

Complaints from the focus groups ranged from concerns that an Asian-looking scientist reinforced stereotypes about Asians excellening in technology/science to a comment that "the person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn't rep(resent) Canada." As a result of the complaints, the bill was redesigned to make the woman appear "ethnically neutral." The new image is reported as appearing Caucasian, causing at least one commentator to suggest that the move is a confusing one for a country proud of its multiculturalism and another to remark: "I have overestimated my fellow (presumably Caucasian) citizens’ ability to recognize 'whiteness' as an ethnic marker. I have overestimated their ability to engage with non-whiteness at any level."
posted by asnider (150 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know if "changed the design" is the correct way to put this. The explanation, as I understand it, is that one of the proposed designs featured a scientist who appeared to be of Asian descent, and that design was rejected before the final design was selected.

They're not recalling any bills in circulation or anything like that.
posted by smitt at 8:06 AM on August 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


She looks Quebecois, to me.
posted by notyou at 8:08 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's a good point, smitt. The media (and my FPP) does make it sound like the original image was already in circulation. It wasn't. It was, however, the image that would have been put into circulation if not for the comments from the focus groups.
posted by asnider at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2012


Meanwhile, in bizarro-world:

The Bank of Canada has issued a statement regarding focus groups' concerns that the woman pictured on its new $100 bill looks like she is of Asian descent, saying "Sometimes people are Asian, and Canadians are just going to have to learn to deal, eh?"

Sometimes I think that we are the ones living in bizarro-world.
posted by Scientist at 8:10 AM on August 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


I guess the human being mascot is already taken by Greendale Community College.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:12 AM on August 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


WHY DO WE PANDER TO IDIOTS
posted by jimmythefish at 8:16 AM on August 18, 2012 [49 favorites]


I hate the word "caucasian." There are remarkably few Canadians who have ethnic heritage stemming from the west coast of the Caspian Sea. The tendency to call white people Caucasian is yet another tactic, unconscious or not, to camouflage or otherwise render invisible the discourse of whiteness, which is an ideology, not an ethnicity.
posted by Catchfire at 8:16 AM on August 18, 2012 [26 favorites]


What's interesting is that the first half of the article in the first link reads as if they were also getting complaints about the 'Asians are good at science' stereotype and that perhaps this was a major point of concern. Then you get to this bit:
"The original image was not designed or intended to be a person of a particular ethnic origin," bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in an interview, citing policy that eschews depictions of ethnic groups on banknotes.
which makes me cease to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you can't have a person depicted as a member of a specific ethnic group, you either need no people on your notes or cartoon people. (Or, I suppose, depict specific people--I was secretly hoping the story was they had drawn renowned scientist Jane Smith, who is not Asian, and people thought they'd drawn her Asian doppelgänger.)

On the plus side, at least they drew a woman. I got an email from the university the other day announcing a casting call for the university's television ad (because we all want to be in that, obviously) where both the 'doctor' and 'professor' were specified to be men. (The professor was specified to be white, too.)
posted by hoyland at 8:19 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The CBC story used the word "purge" instead of "ban" in a rather sensationalist slant.
posted by stevil at 8:23 AM on August 18, 2012


What's interesting is that the first half of the article in the first link reads as if they were also getting complaints about the 'Asians are good at science' stereotype and that perhaps this was a major point of concern.

Yes, it was reported that some of the focus group thought this was stereotyping or "racializing" the note, which I think is a legitimate concern. Why is the only picture of an Asian person on our money a scientist? But of course the response by the mint was to simply remove the Asian person, meaning not even the stereotype remained to be criticized. See how whiteness works? Even in ostensibly in the service of anti-racist concerns, non-white people are erased from history.
posted by Catchfire at 8:24 AM on August 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Canadian problems.
posted by freq at 8:24 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's a good point, smitt. The media (and my FPP) does make it sound like the original image was already in circulation. It wasn't. It was, however, the image that would have been put into circulation if not for the comments from the focus groups.

I remember when the new bills were first shown off, they talked a lot about the focus groups' input to the designs on the new bills.
About how pushed to find ANYTHING controversial in the new bills, certain focus groups found images of a "woman's curves", "sex toys", or the Twin Towers.
posted by smitt at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's odd that Canada put a 'generic' human on their currency. Do other nations do this?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The bank immediately ordered the image redrawn, imposing what a spokesman called a "neutral ethnicity" for the woman scientist who, now stripped of her "Asian" features, appears on the circulating note. Her light features appear to be Caucasian.

Caucasian, the default ethnicity!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


I want a JAMAICAN LESBIAN COMMUNIST PUNK ROCKER WITH A TATTOO OF LENNY BRUCE ON HER FOREHEAD on MY money, goddammit! Don't gimme this "neutral ethnicity" chick peering into a microscope. FUCK YOU!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:29 AM on August 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Doesn't look even remotely Asian to me and why on earth should it matter - what a load of nonsense.
posted by zeoslap at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think it's odd that Canada put a 'generic' human on their currency. Do other nations do this?
I know some socialist/communist states have done this in the past, such as the Bulgarian lev showing farmers.
posted by Jehan at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, if you ever are in need of a quick explanation / beginner's guide of privilege, neutral ethnicity = white is probably the best you'll find.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [32 favorites]


How do you "racialize" money, ffs? Or, more to the point, if you put white people on it, it's already racialized. If you put men on it, it's already gendered. If you put a lady with a crown on it, it's already marked for social class.

The days perceiving the white penis-having type as the default are swiftly coming to an end. I guess that makes some members of that set nervous.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:31 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ugh, fuck.

Nix the random 'everyman' graphics and just put some birds there. Jeez.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 AM on August 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


The days perceiving the white penis-having type as the default are swiftly coming to an end. I guess that makes some members of that set nervous.

It doesn't make me nervous. Because I've PAINTED MY PENIS GREEN!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:34 AM on August 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


Nix the random 'everyman' graphics

Ahem. Everywoman.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because I've PAINTED MY PENIS GREEN!

That may just save your life when the revolution comes.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


This Asian scientist thing is an insult, it's quite obvious, to me anyway, that Geddy Lee should be on the back of all Canadian currency.
posted by MikeMc at 8:36 AM on August 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


The original design also featured PM Borden wearing Hanfu.

And don't even get me started in what you could see in the 'ice' on the back of the old $5!
posted by mazola at 8:36 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ahem. Everywoman.

Well, yeah, but Chaka Khan isn't even Canadian.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


A few even said the yellow-brown colour of the $100 banknote reinforced the perception the woman was Asian, and "racialized" the note.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone have an image of the original design? I think all the pictures in the linked articles are the redesigned ones, aren't they? Or maybe my ability to detect racial features in a tiny engraving of the back of a prim woman's head is miscalibrated.

They should have just tweaked it a tiny bit so she looked more First Nations than Chinese. Something for everyone!
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you think the woman was speaking ... ASIAN??
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:41 AM on August 18, 2012


I'm Chinese Canadian and maybe the photos aren't clear, but the figure looks as Asian as any anime character looks Japanese.
posted by polymodus at 8:42 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be nice for politicians or others in power to lead for a change. Sometimes the mob is not right.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Because "ethnically neutral" means white. Duh.
posted by Fizz at 8:44 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's odd that Canada put a 'generic' human on their currency. Do other nations do this?
Euro bills have "generic" monuments that are 100% imaginary but are based on stylised European architecture.
posted by elgilito at 8:45 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The $50 and $20 banknotes feature a research icebreaker and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial respectively

The Vimy memorial is in France. Canadian money has a picture on it of something in France. Huh.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 AM on August 18, 2012


Does anyone have an image of the original design?

The BoC has said they won't release it. So all this fighting is over something a handful of people said in focus groups about an image that few have even seen.
posted by smitt at 8:46 AM on August 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


One thing that I find interesting about this, but which I left out of the FPP for fear of appearing to editorialize, is that Chinese-Canadians are the largest non-white ethnicity in Canada (according to the 2006 census), so to argue that an Asian-looking person doesn't represent Canada is a bit ridiculous, IMO.
posted by asnider at 8:47 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That "greatest Canadian" thing back in 2004 turned up Banting as #4 and David Suzuki as #5 -- we're not at a loss for actual scientists deserving of recognition that we have to go making someone up.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:49 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Geddy Lee should be on the back of all Canadian currency.

Front and back portraits for each note:

$100 bill: Leonard Cohen / Joni Mitchell
$50 bill: The Band / Hank Snow
$20 bill: Neil Young / k. d. lang
$10 bill: Oscar Peterson / Buffy Sainte-Marie
$5 bill: Steppenwolf / Glenn Gould
$2 coin: Bachman-Turner-Overdrive / Paul Anka
$1 coin: The Guess Who / Guy Lombardo
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2012 [30 favorites]


Though obviously if this were happening in England, I would start a one-man campaign to get Thomas Dolby (SCIENCE!) on there.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:51 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not enough Stompin' Tom!
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What interested me was that this was the single bill (according to reports) with an image of a generic person on it -- and the original design was a non-white woman. That was pretty neat, even if the part where they backed down sucks. (Generic = not the queen or a dead politician.)
posted by jeather at 8:56 AM on August 18, 2012


$100 bill: Leonard Cohen / Joni Mitchell
$50 bill: The Band / Hank Snow
$20 bill: Neil Young / k. d. lang
$10 bill: Oscar Peterson / Buffy Sainte-Marie
$5 bill: Steppenwolf / Glenn Gould
$2 coin: Bachman-Turner-Overdrive / Paul Anka
$1 coin: The Guess Who / Guy Lombardo


Two Randy Bachmans? Two bands that are only partially Canadian? Nearly all the rest expats living in the US? No. It will not do.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on August 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I like your wishful thinking, flapjax, and we could maybe make Cohen and Mitchell happen, but the rest would be chock full of the likes of Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Shania, and Celine (as well as the mandated Queen on the obverse).

A Payola$ bill would be cute, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:59 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


a) Doesn't look Asian.

b) So what if she did?

Imbeciles.
posted by Decani at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2012


Barenaked Ladies on the million dollar bill!
posted by moonmilk at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


I think all Canadian money should have a chip embedded in it that plays "Call Me Maybe" whenever it's handled.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Two Randy Bachmans?

What if we put the Guess Who on one side, and BTO on the other? Is that a fair compromise?

What interested me was that this was the single bill (according to reports) with an image of a generic person on it.

I believe it's the only such bill in the new series, but we've had generic people on our bills before. The previous series included kids playing hockey on the $5 and a veteran, some children, and military personnel on the $10. All of these people appeared to be white, though.
posted by asnider at 9:03 AM on August 18, 2012


$100 bill: Leonard Cohen / Joni Mitchell
$50 bill: The Band / Hank Snow
$20 bill: Neil Young / k. d. lang
$10 bill: Oscar Peterson / Buffy Sainte-Marie
$5 bill: Steppenwolf / Glenn Gould
$2 coin: Bachman-Turner-Overdrive / Paul Anka
$1 coin: The Guess Who / Guy Lombardo


Surely Leonard Cohen and kd lang should be on the same bill, seeing as how stunningly good lang's cover of Hallelujah is.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Doesn't look Asian.

Does no one fucking read anymore?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


It doesn't make me nervous. Because I've PAINTED MY PENIS GREEN!

I see you've visited Boston's famous Johnson Paint Co.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a Korean-Canadian growing up in the multicultural Vancouver, one of the lessons that I took to heart was that you don't have to choose between being Korean and being Canadian: Canada is a young country, built from immigrants from the old world, and it continues to build from immigrants of the old world. You do not give up your roots -- rather, you transplant them, share them and celebrate their differences with your new neighbours. The face of Canada is the face of multiculturalism.

So, I find it offensive that the Bank of Canada "pandered to the idiots" (thanks, jimmy the fish) and redrew the $100 note. I vote every election and proudly carry around my Canadian passport -- to tell me that I do not represent Canada is an insult not only to me, but to Canada's rich history of immigrants.

And, as a lady scientist, I kind of liked that the Asian woman was supposed to be a scientist. At least BoC is leaving her to be female.
posted by tickingclock at 9:08 AM on August 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


I believe it's the only such bill in the new series, but we've had generic people on our bills before. The previous series included kids playing hockey on the $5 and a veteran, some children, and military personnel on the $10. All of these people appeared to be white, though.

Don't forget Mounties on the $50.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:09 AM on August 18, 2012


$100 bill: Leonard Cohen / Joni Mitchell
[etc]


Have to get Félix Leclerc and La Bolduc in there somewhere, come on. Quebec's still part of Canada.
posted by zadcat at 9:09 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Vimy memorial is in France. Canadian money has a picture on it of something in France. Huh.

Canada effectively owns that land. Also, it's arguably the most important event in Canadian history. So...
posted by jimmythefish at 9:10 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see you've visited Boston's famous Johnson Paint Co.

That's right! As they say at Johnson's, "members only!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:10 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two Randy Bachmans?

All of our money should be all Randy Bachman on every side.

On our flag, Randy Bachman's face should replace the maple leaf. Randy Bachman's slowly-spinning head should be permanently holo-projected onto the top of the CN Tower.

"Taking Care of Business" should replace "O Canada", and "Working Overtime" should replace the national slogan "From Sea to Sea."

British Columbia's license plates should be changed from "Super Natural British Columbia" to "Super Natural Randy Bachman"; Quebec's should be changed from "Je Me Souviens" to "Je me souviens Randy Bachman."
posted by Beardman at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Don't forget Mounties on the $50.

Didn't the most recent $50, before the new polymer notes, have the Famous Five on it? If the version prior to that had Mounties on it I'd likely never have known since I'd have been too poor/young to ever see a $50.
posted by asnider at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2012


The original design also featured PM Borden wearing Hanfu.

Back in the day, you would occasionally receive a $5 bill with Borden done up as Spock (see pics @ bottom of this page) - - so perhaps Canadians are even more xenophobic than ever!
posted by fairmettle at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sandra Oh should be on some of our Canadian funny money.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2012


Are there any pictures of the original image out there?
posted by Zed at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2012


Canada should put Bob and Doug McKenzie on the new "Half Fiver", or $2.50 bill, which is the price of 20 Timbits.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:14 AM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are there any pictures of the original image out there?

As smitt said up-thread, the BoC isn't releasing the image in question.
posted by asnider at 9:15 AM on August 18, 2012


They should have just said the woman depicted is deliberateky intended to be multi-mixed race , exact parentage unknown. Like she's the Ms. Orphan Canuck Tiger Woods of Patriotic Microscope Analysis . Problem solved!
posted by Bwithh at 9:17 AM on August 18, 2012


Frankly, I feel like even the "Asian scientist is a stereotype" people are concern trolls along the lines of "too many Asians are admitted to universities because they're too darn smart!" Besides which, the stereotype is usually "Asians are really good students," and far less so "Asians dominate research positions in STEM fields!"
posted by chrominance at 9:17 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


So Benjamin Franklin was an Asian woman? I'm confused...
posted by notme at 9:20 AM on August 18, 2012


Canada has money?
posted by Damienmce at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The sooner Asian gets dropped as an ethnic category the better really - its so silly in how extremelt broad it technically is (even in the typical everyday usage, the more specific range is too broad and silly)
posted by Bwithh at 9:23 AM on August 18, 2012


Sys Rq: "Nix the random 'everyman' graphics and just put some birds there. Jeez."

I demand that they show a falcon working that microscope. Stat.
posted by arcticseal at 9:25 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


They need to hurry up with their official virtual currency then, eh?
posted by infini at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2012



The piece says the Bank of Canada's policy is "to avoid depicting any particular ethnic group".
What the fuck is that? Everyone is in an ethnic group of some sort, but ethnicity is not necessarily indicative of racial appearances, anyway. Choosing to use a "white" person is still choosing. Default/generic/not particular ≠ white.
posted by Red Loop at 9:28 AM on August 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Holy fuck, Canada. It's like a focus group of MeFi's worst. Objections that an Asian scientist is too racially inappropriate? The window reminds people of a woman's figure? The DNA looks like sex beads?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Probably worth reminding people that focus groups are great for generating hypotheses, but not testing them. Lots of stuff comes out of focus groups -- particularly since you're literally telling people to behave differently than they would ordinarily. Imagine if they had focus grouped the US dollar -- all the weird stuff wouldn't be on the dollar bill. And if anything, it made the dollar more of a curiosity and kind of fascinating.

Qualitative research shouldn't be used to decide stuff like this. It should be used to generate things which are then tested more rigorously using things like polls where you can actually figure out whether that response in the focus groups was random chance or representative of the population. And even then, it doesn't necessarily mean you should change it.
posted by scunning at 9:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think it's odd that Canada put a 'generic' human on their currency. Do other nations do this?

I think Mongolia's smaller bills have generic nomadic herders on one side, iirc.
posted by elizardbits at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2012


you would occasionally receive a $5 bill with Borden done up as Spock

That would take some doing, as it's Wilfrid Laurier on the $5, not Borden.
posted by zadcat at 9:37 AM on August 18, 2012


I believe it's the only such bill in the new series, but we've had generic people on our bills before.

Well, yes, but we're talking about the new (weird) plastic money. The choice of images in this series interested me: they chose only one generic person, and it was a non-white woman.
posted by jeather at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2012


Every single person involved in this idiocy should be shipped to Baffin Island
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2012


All I know is that when I left a stack of $100 bills on the dash of my car, and they melted, the scientist ended up looking like an alien. Fucking aliens are supposed to be better scientists than us? Who does the Bank think we are, morons?
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:44 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shameful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:45 AM on August 18, 2012


Every single person involved in this idiocy should be shipped to Baffin Island

and fed nothing but dry baffins, which they dislike
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, it's arguably the most important event in Canadian history. So...

In what way? In a war that was utterly pointless for the nations it was fought in, World War I was all the more pointless for us.

But we were forced into killing a bunch of Germans for no real reason, so hooray for us, I guess.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a much better view of the offensive image here, from this article.

I don't see it *at all*. I suspect the complaints are coming from an increasingly threatened, increasingly vocal minority, and are not really representative of how the entire population feels; or are a part of a deliberate divide-and-conquer campaign.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh.

"Bank of Canada bans image of Asian-looking woman from new $100 bills over ethnicity criticism"

should be more like

"Bank of Canada removed image of Asian-looking woman from proposed $100 bill due to criticism from focus groups"

But in any case, the decision to favour the racist criticisms from certain members of focus groups over the ones that commended the show of Canada's multiculturalism was obviously a poor one, especially considering that the focus groups also thought that the Vimy memorial evokes the Twin Towers and that the DNA molecules look like sex toys. I tend to think that if the issue was actually put to most Canadians they wouldn't have a problem with it, but then again, I'm optimistic.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shoulda had the Glendale Human Being.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:55 AM on August 18, 2012


Dry boiled baffin pufflin' duffins
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:03 AM on August 18, 2012


There's a much better view of the offensive image here, from this article.

No, there isn't. That is the revised bill currently in circulation. The old version has not been released to the public.

And the same advice holds as always: do not read any CBC or Globe & Mail comments on this issue. Just don't.
posted by maudlin at 10:04 AM on August 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm having a hard time believing there was any "criticism" from the focus group. More likely questions of the sort:

"What ethnicity is the researcher on the $100 bill?"

If more than a certain percentage state a specific ethnicity then they haven't reached their objective, problematic as it may be.

Reporters then turn this into a bizarre racist screed supported by the BoC. Slow week in news?

And...

"What other objects or shapes do you see in the design?"

Trolling for unintended visual oddities. The London 2012 logo team should have considered a focus group with this question.
posted by stp123 at 10:07 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like your wishful thinking, flapjax, and we could maybe make Cohen and Mitchell happen, but the rest would be chock full of the likes of Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Shania, and Celine (as well as the mandated Queen on the obverse).


Isn't Justin Bieber Canadian?
posted by desjardins at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But did you know that Jabba the Hutt is still on their $20 bill?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on August 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Don't forget Mounties on the $50.

Didn't the most recent $50, before the new polymer notes, have the Famous Five on it?


Wikipedia: Banknotes of the Canadian dollar

Fascinating, if you are interested in this sort of thing. Some of the earlier series, like 'Birds of Canada' are quite charming. I also have a fondness for the 1971 purple oil refinery tenner.
posted by ovvl at 10:20 AM on August 18, 2012


> I'm having a hard time believing there was any "criticism" from the focus group. More likely questions of the sort:

Did you read the article? The quotes are from the 2009 report commissioned by the bank from The Strategic Counsel.
posted by desuetude at 10:21 AM on August 18, 2012


I've lived in Canada for 5 years now and never seen a 100 dollar bill. When I sold my car for cash it was all paid in 20s and 50s because their bank didn't have anything else, so I've been imagining them as something mythical like unicorns.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is that when I left a stack of $100 bills on the dash of my car, and they melted

Snopes says they didn't.
posted by hippybear at 10:26 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just looking at the image of the Queen. She looks pretty much Japanese to me.

Never mind that. You guys could put a rep from one of the tribes that used to own the land on each of the bills. Might be not enough bills to represent all the tribes, so you might feature one on a coin, sort of like we did down here in the lower 48, when we put the states on the quarters. You could change tribes every six months or so, until you get them all. Collectors would love it. Maybe you could have a contest for the designs, and award the winner, I dunno, a peace pipe or an eagle feather or something.

You could put the Queen on the back, so people won't forget who owns whom. And fix up her eyes a bit while you're at it.

Hail Britannia.
posted by mule98J at 10:29 AM on August 18, 2012


The quote from the bank about "neutral ethnicity" is absurd for all the reasons noted, but they also appear to be in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position with regard to the actual bill design.

They put an asian-looking woman scientist on the bill, and they get accused by some conservatives of not representing Canada, and accused by some liberals of pandering to stereotypes about Asians and "racializing the money" (an actual quote from focus groups).

Panicking, they change the design, only to then be accused by a different set of liberals of racism for changing the woman into a seemingly white person, and then a different set of conservatives of pandering.

However, I have enjoyed watching both my conservative and my liberal friends tie themselves into knots on facebook trying to figure out which is the 'correct' position they should be adopting with this issue. No true scotsman and all that...
posted by modernnomad at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the clearest lesson to be learned here is that focus groups are full of assholes.
posted by elizardbits at 10:34 AM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


In what way? In a war that was utterly pointless for the nations it was fought in, World War I was all the more pointless for us.

If you'll forgive the derail, allow me to summarize/paraphrase:

The battle of Vimy Ridge was a notable accomplishment and an historic occasion for the Canadian Corps: for the first time, all four Canadian divisions were assembled into Corps instead of being used to supplement British Divisions. These Corps, commanded by Canadian officers for the first time instead of British generals, then managed to decisively secure (although not without significant losses) a difficult military objective of great strategic importance that the British (and French) had been unable to capture in their previous attempts.

British Prime Minister Lloyd George later wrote:
"The Canadians played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as shock troops; for the remainder of the war they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."
At the time, the majority of Canadians were of British descent, and saw it as their duty to fight in the war. The military involvement intensified Canadian nationalism in two ways: some took pride in Canada's military accomplishments and began to wonder what she could accomplish in other areas if self-led by Canadians instead of British parliament, while others became disillusioned by the ongoing sacrifice and slaughter of Canadian forces at the forefront of so many battles, wondering why Canadians were willing to do so much of the fighting, and dying, for Britain. It was a very significant event in the context of Canada's progression towards full independence.

/has family history that emigrated from England to Canada just before WWI, who also went back and fought as Canadians at Vimy

/end derail
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


I've lived in Canada for 5 years now and never seen a 100 dollar bill.

Counterfeiting of the 100CAD bill has been a persistent problem since at least the early 80s, to the point where most retail stores have given up and just do not accept $100 bills. The Bank of Canada is in a real arms race to keep that bill alive as legal tender.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:45 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quebec's still part of Canada.

If you going to have Québécois on the money then there's a case to made for Voivod.
posted by MikeMc at 10:46 AM on August 18, 2012


Read the first half. You're right, the second half contains some nasty quotes.
posted by stp123 at 10:47 AM on August 18, 2012


Since it cannot tolerate representation by scientists, Canada's punishment will be to have the cast of Trailer Park Boys on its currency from now until the day its oil supply runs out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed that anyone cares about this.
posted by freakazoid at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2012


What a bunch of Caucs
posted by nathancaswell at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Nix the random 'everyman' graphics and just put some birds there. Jeez."

Yeah, but see, "put an Asian woman on it" was supposed to be the NEW "put a bird on it." Guess we're not as popular as everyone says we are.
posted by brina at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All I know is that when I left a stack of $100 bills on the dash of my car, and they melted
Snopes says they didn't.


Until polymer bills, of course, there was no problem with leaving a stack of hundreds on the dash of your car.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:07 AM on August 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm just sick of them changing the money every ten second. It's obnoxious. I want some continuity!
posted by windykites at 11:10 AM on August 18, 2012


Also, flapjax: Neil Young is way more valuable than Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen's obnoxious, too.
posted by windykites at 11:13 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know exactly two Canadians - one was born here in Australia, and the other was born in Jamaica to Chinese parents.

So I propose the $100 note should have a Chinese woman dressed like Crocodile Dundee smoking a joint.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:21 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That $1000 Grosbeak bill is quite striking. Naturally, this is the first time I'm seeing it, on Wikipedia.

I do miss the birds.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:21 AM on August 18, 2012


Also, the lack of Tragically Hip in this conversation makes me sad.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of the earlier series, like 'Birds of Canada' are quite charming.

They should've kept the bird notes forever. It always makes my day when I get one in change (only ever seem to get the 5s, though).
posted by junco at 11:30 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's true -- if the Bank of Canada was going for something symbolic of bland, mainstream, small-town, white Canada, the Hip would fit the bill.
posted by modernnomad at 11:31 AM on August 18, 2012


R. Schlock: "Because I've PAINTED MY PENIS GREEN!

That may just save your life when the revolution comes.
"

Make it AskMe green and we have a deal.
posted by symbioid at 11:44 AM on August 18, 2012


THE NEW CANUCK $10,000,000 COIN SHALL BEAR THE LIKENESS OF A BUTT NAKED NATHAN FILLION ON THE OBVERSE AND A CRYING, HUDDLED MATTHEW PERRY UPON THE REVERSE FACE.

APPROPRIATLEY FOR A 'MAL REYNOLDS' (AS THESE COINS SHALL BE COLLOQUIALLY KNOWN), I HAVE CHOSEN THE STRONG FORMATTING TAG.

posted by samofidelis at 11:44 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist: "Also, the lack of Tragically Hip in this conversation makes me sad."

Or Sook Yin Lee.
posted by symbioid at 11:45 AM on August 18, 2012


Geddy Lee should be on the back of all Canadian currency.


Fuck you. Neil Peart.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2012


Speaking of Canadian bank notes, did you notice how some of the buildings in the Birds of Canada series -- which came out roughly the same time that NAFTA started -- were flying the American flag?

Don't worry, it was just the Red Ensign.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:01 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think all Canadian money should have a chip embedded in it that plays "Call Me Maybe" whenever it's handled.

Heh. I'm for it. Imagine the cacophony in the banks. And at the ATMs.

Oh, yeah -- and on the actual topic: the Bank of Canada is run by idiots. This foolishness makes it official.
posted by dmayhood at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2012


Sorry ovvl, just noticed it was mentioned on that Wiki page.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2012


APPROPRIATLEY FOR A 'MAL REYNOLDS'

Any Firefly reference gets my fave rave.
posted by mule98J at 12:10 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to do market research and loathed having to do any focus groups on anything that is subjective as how one likes the concept of a print layout or in this case money. What happens in these groups is someone will say "that scientist lady looks sort of Asian" and then others will look at it and say, yeah she sort of does. The moderator will try to stop the train wreck and ask if it is important, and a person will say, "I'm not racist but that's really Canadian" And of course he is racist and tired of seeing all these non-white poeple in his country. Other more casual racist will nod their heads. If there was a person of Asian descent in the room they'd probably try not draw attention to the him/herself. The people behind the mirror in the back all scribble "can't have Asian scientist." Had the moderator been an Asian woman it may have never come up. They'd release the new design, the racists would not like the Canadian scientist depicted as an Asian woman but they'd not march on Ottawa. When Canada refreshed its currency again, they'd find something else to not like.

By default, government products are designed by committee which makes whatever it is, a bank note or a poster for renewing your passport somewhat bland. And I think taking it a step to involve what seem to be poorly run focus groups just makes it worse. As a person who ran and tried to find participants for focus groups I can attest that you can get some pretty opinionated people who also tend to be idiots. The people you really want to hear from can't find time to attend the groups, so you end up with subpar participants. I've had a group of 10 people hate a design and then the next group with the same recruitment criteria completely love it.

When dealing with subjective things like artwork on a $100 bill, they should have hired competent artists and gone with the one that was the best based on gut instinct design principles and not asking people in Yellow Knife or Burnaby what they thought over 90 minutes. In the time of allotted for these kinds of things, people will pick apart perfect art. That is how you find "the image of a woman" in the transparent part and "Asian scientist". At least Canada has some variety with their money.

Ultimately, no one will really care what is on the money as long as it has the value. The United States has the ugliest money on the planet but is still the de facto world currency because of its perceived value. The new Canadian $100 could (and should) have Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys on it and as long as it was still worth $100CAD people would still use them. Or more likely, continue to use their debit cards and use the 20s dispensed in cash machines.
posted by birdherder at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


This is the funniest thing I've read all day. This is the rake-paint bucket-rake gag of racial politics.
posted by Diablevert at 1:35 PM on August 18, 2012


I like the way US currency looks. I think the weird pyramid stuff is great; I like the restricted colour palette.

Maybe my favourite thing was looking at all the paper money in China. Seeing Arabic script on thr Chinese notes was a fascinating surprise.

Very rarely have I thought any currency was actually uggo. The euro coins seemed bland, I guess; they felt like Chuckie Cheese tokens.
posted by samofidelis at 1:42 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Favorited for Ricky from TPB. I can see the whole line, with Bubbles and Julian and Lahey... Shit, even Trevor and Corey (Smokes, let's go).
posted by symbioid at 1:54 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think they should put Shatner on the currency. All of it.
posted by freakazoid at 2:19 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing I'm most curious about in the currency is the Braille marks. The current five has one group of 6, the ten has two groups next to each other, the twenty three, the new fifty has four -- but the new hundred has two, very widely spaced. I am really curious why the hundred breaks the pattern (and if the old hundreds were like that).
posted by jeather at 2:24 PM on August 18, 2012


What are people going to do? Refuse to use the money?
posted by vitabellosi at 2:30 PM on August 18, 2012


In the interests of [social] science I have donned my hazmat suit and waded into the CBC comments. I am surprised and confused to see that many of the commenters are complaining that it is racist to remove the woman's Asian features, but then they go on to attribute this racism to "political correctness." I don't get it.

Personally, I hate the phrase "political correctness" because I think it's usually a way for people to complain about being called out on bigotry, but I really, really don't understand the usage of the term in these comments.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:33 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Canadian currency tactile feature
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:37 PM on August 18, 2012


I'm offended by the picture of the Queen on our money. She's much too white.

I demand an ethnically-neutral head of state. Maybe a robot or something.
posted by problemspace at 2:43 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear BoC,

As a Leptin therapy advocate and Type I diabetic, I'm grievously offended by your insulin therapy normative banknote.

Sincerely,

Hamburger Q Hamburgerson

Is there some weird backlash going on because of the way Hong Kong expats have changed the character of Vancouver? Or is this just everyday no special occasion racism?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:01 PM on August 18, 2012


Geddy Lee should be on the back of all Canadian currency.


Fuck you. Neil Peart.


They'd have to re-size the bills to fit Neil's kit on the back, and that's not very practical now is it?
posted by MikeMc at 3:23 PM on August 18, 2012


I could say one thing for the Canadian Mint: they've been having lots of fun with custom designs and funny colour applications on the quarter coins. It makes doing the laundry almost like an adventure.
posted by ovvl at 4:11 PM on August 18, 2012


The big unanswered question is: what did the bill look like before it was made White? I think it would be a worthwhile project to attempt to restore this lost design.
posted by CCBC at 4:26 PM on August 18, 2012


then they go on to attribute this racism to "political correctness." I don't get it.
... usually a way for people to complain about being called out on bigotry.
--hurdy gurdy girl

I've heard that one of the first times "political correct" was used was in a cartoon in the 1980s called PC Man, a superhero who would go around enforcing political correctness. It was satire. You are right that it is overused and is often an excuse by people who want to be bigots. Originally it was meant to mean people doing nonsense things in an a misguided effort to be fair and non-

"The original image was not designed or intended to be a person of a particular ethnic origin," bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in an interview, citing policy that eschews depictions of ethnic groups on banknotes.

I agree with others, that the 'no ethnic origin' phrase really means 'white' and the end resulting 100 dollar bill shows this. This bank spokesman is, in effect, saying that Canada's official policy is to only show whites on banknotes! This is correctly called 'trying to be politically correct', with all its irony.
posted by eye of newt at 4:32 PM on August 18, 2012


s/b: fair and non-discriminatory
posted by eye of newt at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2012


Here's a cite for the first use of "Politically Correct"
posted by eye of newt at 4:46 PM on August 18, 2012


Here's a cite for the first use of "Politically Correct"

i think the phrase originated from marxists/radicals themselves, in a "comrade, you're not politically correct on this" sense - when i was going to college in the mid 70s, i heard many people use it jokingly to poke fun at the overzealous scruples and doctrines of some members of the "new left"

it was never used in reference to offensive or potentially offensive racist or sexist language - sometime in the 80s, the meaning and context changed
posted by pyramid termite at 5:13 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see it *at all*.

That's because we aren't privy to the original image.

I was about to say the same thing until I saw an "RTFA" comment and then started Googling around trying to find the original :)
posted by lordaych at 5:59 PM on August 18, 2012


I'm still surprised that the Harper government allowed a scientist at all regardless of gender or ethnicity.
posted by srboisvert at 7:17 PM on August 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


How about Alanis Morrisette? That would be ironic, don't you think?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:27 PM on August 18, 2012


Just a little bit too ironic.
posted by jeather at 7:58 PM on August 18, 2012


Would you prefer a first nations person on the $50? (it's red). I think some people might see racism just based on the color, and an effort was made to make it more "neutral".
posted by blue_beetle at 8:17 PM on August 18, 2012


Alvy Ampersand: "Does no one fucking read anymore?"

Exactly. The image we see is the "fixed" image, not the "Asian" image.
posted by deborah at 8:31 PM on August 18, 2012


I was especially galled by the white guy being interviewed wondering whet the big deal was. One of the most formative moments of my life as a Black person in America, was traveling to Nigeria when I was around 10 years old and seeing African faces on the money. Some of the simplest symbolic images that we take for granted actually send very powerful messages.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:09 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can see the whole line, with Bubbles and Julian and Lahey...

Fuckin' Lahey.

Seconding pyramid termite on the 'political correctness' meaning shift. It was a lefty in-joke when I got to Uni in 1980, later the right-wing noise machine ginned it up with a bunch of scare stories, and by the end of the decade some of the lefty kids had taken up the term sans irony. Aaaargh.
posted by Kinbote at 10:19 PM on August 18, 2012


What the fuck is that? Everyone is in an ethnic group of some sort, but ethnicity is not necessarily indicative of racial appearances, anyway. Choosing to use a "white" person is still choosing. Default/generic/not particular ≠ white.


That's not really true, you can draw someone who looks like they could be from multiple different ethnicities, especially if it's not a color image. Someone who's half Asian/white might look Asian to one person and white to another.

Honestly the person on the bill looks more white then Asian to me, but if I grew up in Asia I might see them as being more asian then white. If I look close I can't even really see an 'ethnicity', she could be white, asian, latin american, or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 PM on August 18, 2012


Thanks everyone who provided some insight into the origins/use of "politically correct"--I've only ever really known it as the annoying phrase trotted out by people eager to explain why they were being oppressed by requests for inclusive language. I wasn't aware of other nuances. Interesting!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:30 AM on August 19, 2012


Here's a shot from the original note:
_____________
|$100 ( ^-^)/且|
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:14 AM on August 19, 2012


I think each Canadian citizen should be issued the original "controversial" $100 bill and further be required to spend said bill at either Canadian Tire or some random poutine shack in order to continue this focus group thing. I, for one, welcome our new "Asian" female scientist overlords. And poutine.
posted by moneyjane at 8:07 PM on August 19, 2012


Oh, Sir John A., we love you too (exactly the way you are...dead)
posted by juv3nal at 3:11 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


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