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Finger Lickin' Awkward
January 8, 2010 2:47 AM   Subscribe

KFC are in trouble after an Australian ad hit YouTube. Some say it's racist. KFC themselves say it was a light-hearted look at cricket rivalry intended to play on stereotypes. (Previously)
posted by mippy (168 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I know nothing of KFC's advertising history, or Australian race relations (other than Ockers rampaging down Cronulla beach looking for Pauline Hanson's autograph), but that fried chicken and black people stereotype is such an American stereotype. I suspect nobody in the UK, Australia or frankly anywhere but North America would pick up on that.
posted by vbfg at 2:54 AM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would say it's actually a KFC stereotype, judging by the Korean KFC commercial in the second link. To say nothing of the fact that its founder and advertising mascot is a freaking plantation owner.

On the other hand, if any of this bothers you, take your dog for a walk in Brazil, IN.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:59 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I don't think any racism was intended (the fried chicken stereotype isn't really known at all in Australia, and it is, to my understanding, an African American stereotype, not a Carribean one) that doesn't excuse the fact that, unfortunate race issues aside, it is still an incredibly shit ad.

That said, sure Australians are racist, but so are you.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:01 AM on January 8, 2010


I know KFC says it's not a racist stereotype in Australia, but it's one thing for an Australian company to do it. KFC is an American company. Corporate should have taken one look at that ad and said "no."
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:09 AM on January 8, 2010


Good lord. Aren't there more important things to complain about than an advert of a fictional Australian cricket fan giving fried chicken to fictional West Indian cricket fans?

If the poles were reversed and a lone West Indian fan shared his beers with Aussie fans would we all be jumping up and down with indignation at the insinuation that a) he had something to fear and b) Aussies were all drunken thugs. I doubt it.

Outragefilter.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:10 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Learning about this stereotype really confused the hell out of me when it was first brought to my attention. I couldn't understand how any one ethnic group could be singled out as fried chicken enthusiasts when fried chicken was about the greatest food ever and surely everybody adored it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:20 AM on January 8, 2010 [43 favorites]


Italians, they love the spaghetti!
posted by popcassady at 3:24 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, for crying out loud. Fried chicken is a univerally amazing thing that brings joy and harmony to the world. How long will people keep this stupid, negative associative going?
posted by jbickers at 3:26 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what EatTheWeek said.
posted by jbickers at 3:26 AM on January 8, 2010


Fried chicken is a univerally amazing thing that brings joy and harmony to the world.

Right? Fuck bacon! Chicken is where it's at.
posted by chillmost at 3:38 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


KFC is an American company. Corporate should have taken one look at that ad and said "no."

Why? So people the advert wasn't intended for wouldn't be offended by it?
posted by vbfg at 3:43 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clearly, Colonel Sanders needs to make another trip to the UN, to straighten this whole mess out.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:58 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know KFC says it's not a racist stereotype in Australia, but it's one thing for an Australian company to do it. KFC is an American company. Corporate should have taken one look at that ad and said "no."

I currently work for an australian outpost of a large japanese multinational, and used to work at the australian outposts of a couple of large american multinationals.

The thing is, a company of that size, the outputs run pretty much independantly. In fact, the rule of thumb, always, is do whatever you can to avoid dealing with the so-called "head office" because due to either cultural differences or just a few oceans of difference and language barrier, it will make things worse for local. And they're perfectly happy with that situation, as long as local is making money.

That's the thing - corporate in australia were almost certantly also not aware of the stereotype (indeed, I never struck it myself until I lived in america at age 22 - the only reason any of my friends know it now is because of Drawn Together)... companies here are actually really paranoid about appearing racist. I'm not saying it's cool (obv, it's not, and marketing will no doubt be deconstructing this situation like crazy), just saying that while KFC international is an american company, KFC australia is not.
posted by jaymzjulian at 4:04 AM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, the fried chicken stereotype is unique to the USA, as far as I know (I only know about it because of a discussion right here, several years ago), and the advert was intended for the Australian market only, and it was intended to show an Australian supporter surrounded by West Indies supporters, not a white man surrounded by black men necessarily.

On the other hand, KFC is an American company and should be bloody well aware that America's reach is global, and that other countries and cultures are frequently criticised according to US values, and possibly it should take into account the sensibilities of its home country as well as its adopted country when okaying adverts if it doesn't want people back home pissed off at them. And regardless of intent, if you're going to run an advert with a white man surrounded by non-white people and looking to placate them, you should probably step very carefully, or better yet mix up the ethnicities a bit or come up with a different idea altogether, because damn, local context or no local context, that's a loaded image world-wide.

White people, in every country in which we are dominant, have an obligation not to be ham-fisted idiots when portraying people of other colours.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:04 AM on January 8, 2010


"but that fried chicken and black people stereotype is such an American stereotype. I suspect nobody in the UK, Australia or frankly anywhere but North America would pick up on that"

I work in advertising regulation - it's my job to look at TV ads/scripts before they go out (in the UK) and suggest changes as necessary to keep them honest and unlikely to cause offence. I can't really tell you about the kind of things people do complain about as we have to keep that kind of thing on the down-low, but never has anyone picked up on the black people and chicken. Over here, Asian people are more known for liking fried chicken, because it's halal. However, we wouldn't have passed this ad, and depictions of 'natives' or anythign similarly colonial is out as well.

Oddly enough, I read this article last week that discussed the hipster love of bacon as classist, given that bacon was traditionally a poor person's food. As a UK person, this seemed odd to me.
posted by mippy at 4:05 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. This is the latest in a long line of shitty KFC ads in which rival sports fans bond over the goodness of chicken fried in trans fats.

Also, could someone please explain the fried chicken + African Americans = racism thing to me? Because I spent a couple of weeks in New York in December, and I was struck by the number of fried chicken shops (KFC, Popeye's and non-chain restaurants) in Harlem and Brooklyn -- in other words, the neighbourhoods in which my pasty Irish face stuck out like a sore thumb.

I don't get offended when people associate potatoes with the Irish, even though the association originates from a time of economic hardship caused by racist oppression.

So what's the story?

Not trolling, I promise. I honestly don't get it. The "Hey Hey" blackface thing --- totally and obviously racist. This? No.

And let me state for the record that chicken and waffles and maple syrup is a magical combination.
posted by robcorr at 4:06 AM on January 8, 2010


I know KFC says it's not a racist stereotype in Australia, but it's one thing for an Australian company to do it. KFC is an American company. Corporate should have taken one look at that ad and said "no."

I don't really get this. As Serial Killer Slumber Party points out, the fried chicken stereotype is not really known in Australia, and it applies to African-Americans anyway, not West Indians. Why should an Australian ad, produced for Australian screens, have to conform to American expectations, even if the company is American? The outrage, as far as I can see, is caused by Americans' lazy assumption that the same connotations attach to this food in Australia as in the US. The onus is on Americans to attempt to understand other cultures, not on other cultures to ensure that their every cultural artefact is immediately comprehensible and inoffensive to any American who might catch a glimpse of it.

It should also be pointed out that the ad is part of a series in which the main character gives people KFC to distract them so he can watch the cricket - other ads feature him giving chicken to his white flatmates and his white girlfriend's white family. Every poor bastard in these ads has KFC's foul-smelling product thrust upon them.

This is why I dislike American liberals. They are just as loud, ignorant and arrogant as the Republican rednecks and hicks they disdain; just as serenely certain that American standards, values and expectations can be applied to foreign cultures unchanged, and that any failure of these cultures to conform to American ways is a perversion to be eliminated.

If a significant number of actual West Indian black people is offended by this ad, it should stay off screen. If all or most of the complaints are coming from lazy American cultural imperialists who haven't bothered to learn the first thing about Australians (or the West Indians they are apparently so eager to protect), the ad should be returned to TV.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 4:13 AM on January 8, 2010 [29 favorites]


This is the part where Americans gaze into the rohrschach and inform the world that it is, indeed, all black and white.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:13 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


While we're on the subject, "boy" only has racial connotations in America too.
posted by vbfg at 4:26 AM on January 8, 2010


While we're on the subject, "boy" only has racial connotations in America too

I don't think this is true. I've heard the term in India and Sri Lanka and it's always struck me as, if not downright derogatory, then incredibly patronising.

I'd be surprised if it wasn't viewed that way by the recipient, either.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:28 AM on January 8, 2010


Now I'm hungry for some fried chicken.

(I'm white, for those keeping score at home.)
posted by spoobnooble at 4:29 AM on January 8, 2010


Tell you one thing, though... those Japanese people? They loooooves 'em some fried chicken!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:30 AM on January 8, 2010


Also, could someone please explain the fried chicken + African Americans = racism thing to me?

You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken. It's not the chicken that's the offensive part, it's the fact that the blond guy is assumed to be on mortal danger because he's surrounded by black people. And that you can throw yard bird at them to distract them while you escape as if they were animals.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I accept the fact that the fried chicken stereotype in the US is a meaningless non-starter in Australia.

I still find it off-putting as an ad where a white guy is uncomfortable in a situation surrounded by exuberant blacks, and seeks a way to placate them. I realize it's part of a series, but it's not funny enough to overcome the ugly undertones that, if not intentional, are nonetheless obvious.


This is why I dislike American liberals.


Noted, eatyourcellphone. I dislike you too.
posted by mreleganza at 4:34 AM on January 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


MuffinMan: Fair enough. I first came across it's meaning as a deroatory term here a few years back. I got the context straight away, and I suppose from that I can see how your experience of it in India would be similar, but I'd never come across it before at all.
posted by vbfg at 4:35 AM on January 8, 2010


Fried chicken courtesy of Miko. I knew bookmarking this comment would come in handy.
posted by crataegus at 4:40 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched the ad through about four times trying to find the racist part, trying to figure out (as an American) if there was some sort of Australian, maybe soccer related, subtext that I was missing. Then I read the article and learned it was Americans who found the whole "offering fried chicken to black people" thing offensive. Oh for chrissake.

A) I do think that there are US folks who way over-reach when trying to find evidence of racism. Given the history I find it hard to blame them, but there it is. and

B) As far as I know, fried chicken in and of itself is not considered enough of a racist symbol for there to be any calls to boycott KFC by black folks in the US. and

C) Personally, I find the stuff to be so greasy it makes me sick to my stomach, so I have had a personal boycott against KFC in effect for at least 30 years. If Kentucky Fried Chicken is in fact a racist symbol I guess I can take pride in the fact I'm not contributing to the problem.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:41 AM on January 8, 2010


KFC Australia: pioneering new ways for KFC to make people sick to their stomach.
posted by unsupervised at 4:42 AM on January 8, 2010


an american based company noticed that the australian wing had made a commercial that was problematic for them in their home country - this caused a PR problem for headquarters. they had to ask the question, which will effect the bottom line more, keeping the ad or removing the ad? this isn't censorship, this is plain, old fashioned economics.

with the internet stretching across borders that use to take a 24 hour flight to reach, global companies have to start acting more globally. nothing can be considered "local market" anymore.
posted by nadawi at 4:42 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken. It's not the chicken that's the offensive part, it's the fact that the blond guy is assumed to be on mortal danger because he's surrounded by black people. And that you can throw yard bird at them to distract them while you escape as if they were animals.

I saw it as one team's fan stuck in a crowd of the opposite team's fans. Because Australia and the West Indies are cricket rivals. And them placating them by giving them tasty food.
I didn't see any danger from black people, I saw danger from being stuck in a crowd of team rivals. It's a little dangerous, don't you think, to automatically assume racism where there isn't any; it just perpetuates the whole cycle.
posted by Petrot at 4:43 AM on January 8, 2010 [20 favorites]


Bullshit, octothorpe. As someone pointed out above, this ad is part of a series in which the same guy placates all kinds of people -- black, white, young, old -- with fried chicken. Here he is giving fried chicken to his very white in-laws.

The problem here is not that the ad is racist. The problem is that a bunch of ignorant Yanks took it out of context and projected their own cultural expectations onto it. You're going to impose your culture onto the rest of the world and tell us we're racist? Get fucked.
posted by robcorr at 4:44 AM on January 8, 2010 [28 favorites]


For those who don't get the whole "black people and fried chicken" thing, check out Miko's fantastic comment about it on a separate thread last year.
posted by zardoz at 4:45 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This comment from the first article seems to sum it up pretty well:
"This controversy is so funny. After reading the comments from the American point of view you can actually see why for them it is racist. For Aussies this is what we see: 1. The only Aussie surrounded by loud west indies fans at the cricket 2. The ad is aired during cricket matches and we all know KFC is a sponsor of the cricket 3. Everyone enjoys fried chicken and the Aussie is now popular amongst the West Indies fans. Then from the American point of view imagine this: 1. imagine if the logo for cricket didn't exist and you didn't see any reference to cricket throughout the ad including the cricket colours that they're wearing - this is pretty much the equivalent to what the Americans see since they have no idea what cricket is 2. The ad isn't shown amongst all the other KFC ads and not during the cricket 3. They see a bunch of loud black guys (no idea they are west indian - only that they're black) and one white guy in the middle of a crowd. To placate them, he offers them fried chicken which black guys are meant to love. Now rewatch the ad, imagining if there was no reference to cricket whatsoever. Now you can see why they think it's racist! Talk about paradigm shift!"
posted by patricio at 4:45 AM on January 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


and to answer the question: why fried chicken can be considered racist in america
posted by nadawi at 4:46 AM on January 8, 2010


(Sorry, that came out harsher than I intended.)
posted by robcorr at 4:47 AM on January 8, 2010


I work for the company that made the ad and was talking to the guys who created the ad yesterday. If you like, I can try and get him on here so you can ask him straight up ( I could surmise, knowing of the account but it's not my place). What I can tell you is that it was never in any shape or form intended to be rascist. This is a genuine offer by the way.
posted by Jubey at 4:47 AM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is why I dislike American liberals.

Meet the late crop of conservatives! They play the paternalism angle, plus they take your uranium and hurl it back at you in an assortment of fun shapes.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:49 AM on January 8, 2010


I must admit, when I saw this news item break I groaned- here we go again. Then I saw the ad, it's about cricket for fuck sake, and anyone who's been in bay 13 or on the hill with rowdy, bored, drunk, sombrero wearing cricket lovers *should* be able to relate. One needs to understand the cultural context - but soon what is left of our culture will be totally subsumed, and we'll all be driving around in huge square cars spraying fluorescent orange cheese at each other.

And yes, it's a shit ad, all KFC ads are shit- they do it so you don't get your hopes up.
posted by mattoxic at 4:55 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meh. These cross-cultural 'outrages' reflect poorly both on the bottom feeding section of the US media fishing for sensation AND the stupid KFC/advertising people for not having a deeper understanding/appreciation of how their silly ad might play.

It may not be a racist trope here but I disagree that a fair slice of the population would be ignorant - even in a vague sense - about the fried chicken/African-American heritage associative slander. Golliwogs and blackface are similarly stupid gimmicks to parade in public -- there is a small bunch of universally off-limits 'cultural elements' that should be avoided, irrespective of whether or not they strictly give local offence.

But I really think this one is pretty much a storm in a tea-cup.
posted by peacay at 4:59 AM on January 8, 2010


"This is why I dislike American liberals. They are just as loud, ignorant and arrogant as the Republican rednecks and hicks they disdain; just as serenely certain that American standards, values and expectations can be applied to foreign cultures unchanged, and that any failure of these cultures to conform to American ways is a perversion to be eliminated."

This is why I look forward to the collapse of the American empire. No more Puritan-influenced nutballs sticking their business into the rest of the world, whether it be bombing the crap out of the "scary brown people" in the name of democracy, or having outraged upper middle class, SWPLs acting as proxy-moralizers and authoritatively tut-tutting the rest of the planet while hiding behind sham multicultural rhetoric ("we respect other cultures, but only America knows what is right!").

I look forward to the diversity of the next 50 years as politics and culture within India, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and other countries rise up and drown out the bullshit that comes out of the left and right of America.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 5:01 AM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


The ad was reproduced online in the US

What the does this mean? Do they not understand the Internet? Segue to:

This is why I dislike American liberals. They are just as loud, ignorant and arrogant as the Republican rednecks and hicks they disdain; just as serenely certain that American standards, values and expectations can be applied to foreign cultures unchanged, and that any failure of these cultures to conform to American ways is a perversion to be eliminated.

The arrogance displayed here is more astounding—and downright goddamned insulting, to be frank—than KFC's inability to understand that video travels across the Internet faster than the amount of time it takes said Internet to understand that the original audience doesn't have the same stereotypes and cultural history. Of course KFC's Australian outfit doesn't need to mold themselves American standards and values, but you aren't thinking hard enough if you don't see that easily avoidable stuff like this turns into a press relations disaster very quickly.

Every person here ranting about Americans pushing their values on the world, listen to this part carefully:

This is a lesson in global capitalism for KFC, not the imposition of values by a bully nation. They inadvertently released an ad in one market that (apparently) offended people in another market. It wasn't intended to exist within their culture set, but this is THE INTERNET and so it did. Oops. The culture of the target market shouldn't care about the culture of the offended market, but KFC should care about a bunch of loudmouthed people who are making them look bad.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:01 AM on January 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


(Btw, I do agree that this is a storm in a cup. It'll get its 5 minutes on the evening news in the States, three of my friends will link me to it tomorrow, and then it'll only get mentioned in passing once in a great while and no one will even remember anymore. I just think the angle that actually matters to the company isn't the same thing people are ranting about here.)
posted by Mikey-San at 5:04 AM on January 8, 2010


This is indeed a lesson in global capitalism for KFC. The lesson is that everything you do must be carefully vetted so as not to offend the ignorant morons in the US who believe that everyone everywhere shares their strange local hangups.
posted by robcorr at 5:04 AM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


--What I can tell you is that it was never in any shape or form intended to be rascist.--

Yeah, I think that's obvious, but does it excuse being stupid and not seeking a wider range of opinions BEFORE the ad was aired? Not really, no.

Again, I don't think it's a big thing (as it would be if an American franchise owner aired the ad in the US), but it more or less smacks of thoughtlessness and narrowminded thinking. The furore bubbling up will be suitable smackdown for all concerned I guess.
posted by peacay at 5:06 AM on January 8, 2010


I work for the company that made the ad and was talking to the guys who created the ad yesterday. If you like, I can try and get him on here so you can ask him straight up

That sounds cool, but I'm sure the racist stereotype thing wasn't intended (insofar as it could be perceived as a stereotype by others), so I'm not sure it would really go anywhere we don't already know. :)
posted by Mikey-San at 5:09 AM on January 8, 2010


If they really wanted to offend they should have included something about middle aged and older white people keeping the moistened towelletes in their kitchen drawer for 'emergencies'.
posted by srboisvert at 5:14 AM on January 8, 2010


So its racist if white people say this but not if black people say it? because i remember a black american comedian doing stand up and talking about this about 20 years ago, just after the LA riots. he said "black people love chicken" and then talked about the riots and said something like "but no kfc got damaged at all!"

also, does this mean the french are going to have to stop calling us English "le roast beef"? also, Limeys is out.
posted by marienbad at 5:19 AM on January 8, 2010


I look forward to the diversity of the next 50 years as politics and culture within India, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and other countries rise up and drown out the bullshit that comes out of the left and right of America.

Wow. Because there's no long-term history of racism, classism, or hypocrisy in any of those countries, thank goodness!
posted by aught at 5:20 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken.

You so desperately want this ad to be racist, you're seeing things that aren't there. The West Indian fans in this ad are not shown to be in any way dangerous, scary or threatening to the white character. They are paying no attention to him at all. If the intention was to have the West Indians be scary, I doubt that the ad's makers would have included so many women among the West Indian fans. I can assure you that going to the cricket and being beaten up by girls - even black ones - doesn't figure highly on the average Aussie bloke's list of phobias.

He doesn't 'escape' from them, either. After the KFC is handed around, he remains sitting in his seat. The 'awkward situation' isn't being menaced by violent blacks - it's sitting amid a bunch of noisy supporters of an opposing team.

This ad is very similar to another ad in this series, in which the main character is annoyed by his male and female flatmates chattering about a party while he tries to watch cricket on the TV. He gives them KFC so they'll be quiet. There is another ad in which the main character distracts his girlfriend's family with KFC so he can remove the batteries from their remote so they can't change the channel on the TV. Is it also your contention that there is in Australia a widespread perception that hip young white party-goers and white middle-class families are 'dumb animals'? In these stupid ads, everyone is dumb enough to be distracted by 'yard bird'.

Meet the late crop of conservatives! They play the paternalism angle...

If I'm a conservative, I'm pretty fucking bad at it, as I've never voted for a single right-wing candidate in my life, am in favor of liberal abortion laws, gun control, gay marriage and a whole panoply of classic liberal causes, and am a bisexual agnostic to boot. God, I sound just like Rush Limbaugh, don't I? It's an entirely American disease, this assumption that if you're not a conventional liberal, you must be a Bible-thumping Palinite. I merely resent the attempt of American liberals to force the entire world to live by their mores, and their unwillingness to actually learn about the cultures they arrogantly assume are in need of their reforming efforts. I dislike missionaries - religious or otherwise - who bumble into a place and think they don't need to pick up a little local knowledge before they start preaching.

I'm not playing a paternalism angle - Americans commenting on this story are being paternalistic. If any West Indians are offended by this ad, they can write to Australian newspapers and complain to Australia's anti-discrimination commission - amazingly, we do have some rudimentary mechanisms in place to address questions of racism, sexism, etc., despite our general backwardness. The West Indian team can complain to the cricketing authorities as well. Why do you assume that West Indians need you to be outraged on their behalf? And why do you assume that West Indians blacks are bothered by the same things that offend African-Americans? Just because they also have black skin, doesn't mean their culture is identical to African-American culture.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:20 AM on January 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


This is why I dislike American liberals.

What makes you think that it is liberals who are assuming that this is racist? I would tend to think it's a bunch of conservatives, since viewing this ad as racist means assuming that your cultural values are universal, or that they should be, and everything everywhere means exactly what it would mean in America. That's the Republican view of the world in a nutshell--there are only two places on the globe, America and Wishes-It-Was-America.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:20 AM on January 8, 2010


For our overseas friends who might not be aware: depicting African Americans and watermelon is considered very racist over here. Example: White House watermelon patch.
posted by ericb at 5:25 AM on January 8, 2010


The fried chicken and watermelon steretypes have a deep-rooted history in American culture.
"Since the Civil War, traditional slave foods like fried chicken, watermelon, and chitterlings, have suffered a strong association with African American stereotypes and blackface minstrelsy. This was commercialized for the first half of the 20th century by restaurants like Sambo's and Coon Chicken Inn, which selected exaggerated blacks as mascots, implying quality by their association with the stereotype. While acknowledged positively as soul food in the modern age by many, the affinity that African American culture has for fried chicken has been considered a delicate, often pejorative issue; While still present, this perception has been fading for several decades with the ubiquitous nature of fried chicken dishes in the US and a gradual ageing and dull acceptation of this stereotype."*
posted by ericb at 5:31 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I work for the company that made the ad"

Is it BBH?

This ad was heavily complained about for racism in the UK. As the guy is a genuine Jamaican (imitating accents can't be done) it was really unexpected.
posted by mippy at 5:34 AM on January 8, 2010


To say nothing of the fact that its founder and advertising mascot is a freaking plantation owner.

What in the great good goddamn are you talking about? Harlan Sanders (that'd be "The Colonel" to you) died in 1980. He's not a plantation owner. He's a restauranteur and a huckster. Call again with nonsense like that and you're banned. HEAVE-HO!
posted by billysumday at 5:34 AM on January 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


"So its racist if white people say this but not if black people say it? because i remember a black american comedian doing stand up and talking about this about 20 years ago, just after the LA riots. he said "black people love chicken" and then talked about the riots and said something like "but no kfc got damaged at all!"

Otherwise known as the Nigger Argument, or I'll Insult My Family Any Way I Damn Want To But You'd Better Not. It's context, isn't it?
posted by mippy at 5:36 AM on January 8, 2010


Of course KFC's Australian outfit doesn't need to mold themselves American standards and values, but you aren't thinking hard enough if you don't see that easily avoidable stuff like this turns into a press relations disaster very quickly.

The minute I saw this ad, I knew that a controversy would blow up once it reached America. Yeah, KFC Australia was dumb, and this is certainly a lesson in the realities of media distribution in 2010. Your assumption that I hadn't considered this is insulting.

The fact remains that this shit only blew up because a certain number of Americans rushed to trumpet their superior values, without considering differences between their cultures and the cultures of Australia and the West Indies. You can't excuse that by saying KFC was dumb not to realise they'd get wind of it. It might be a dumb move to tell my racist, homophobic granny that Uncle John is in love with a Chinese man, but that doesn't make me the bad guy - granny is still responsible for her own prejudices.

I also notice that you assume that Australians should be aware of American cultural foibles - why? Should Australians also be responsible for ensuring that nothing appears in an Aussie ad that could inadvertently offend Koreans, Kazakhs, Argentinians, Greenlanders? Why is US culture the culture we should know every in and out of?

They inadvertently released an ad in one market that (apparently) offended people in another market.

All markets are not created equal. If there was something in a US ad that was offensive to Australians, how many Americans would know or care? The US wields economic, cultural and political clout few countries do.

I'd point out, too, that not all of the Americans who flared into immediate, unthinking outrage over this ad were Youtube commenters or bloggers. Professional journalists also rushed to judgment without investigation.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:36 AM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I guess I fall more into the "acknowledge positively as soul food" camp. To me the racism in "Sambo's" and "Coon Chicken Inn" is, well, in "Sambo" and "Coon" rather than the chicken they apparently sold.
posted by robcorr at 5:38 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


What makes you think that it is liberals who are assuming that this is racist?

Because I know the posting history of the commenters on this site who are sniffily insisting that Australian advertizers need to conform to American standards before they put an ad to air.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:40 AM on January 8, 2010


Everyone under the age of 50 with a TV and a brain knows the fried chicken, watermelon stereotypes in Australia. I'm really surprised by a lot of the forgiving comments here.

The KFC advertising people and executives knew exactly what they were doing. Controversy = free publicity [the advert has been pulled, BTW].

However:

**KFC are sponsoring the cricket this summer. Have been for a while. Not only in Australia.

**The countries predominantly populated by black people, quirkily grouped together for cricket purposes and named the "West Indies," are here in Australia this summer.

So it's a perfect get-out-of-jail-free card.

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:41 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I'm a conservative, I'm pretty fucking bad at it

When did I suggest that you were? I'm commenting on the ascendant versions of American liberalism and conservatism, which are almost perfectly alike in having no use for people other than as passive targets for their smart ideas or their smart bombs.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:42 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


... lazy American cultural imperialists who haven't bothered to learn the first thing about Australians (or the West Indians they are apparently so eager to protect)

FWIW -- many, if not most, American school children are well aware of the role the West Indies played in the Trianglular Trade in which "[a]fter the horrendous sea voyage from Africa, slaves were separated and placed on plantations in the West Indies"* where some remained for harvesting sugar cane while others were sent north to the United States.
posted by ericb at 5:44 AM on January 8, 2010


"Because there's no long-term history of racism, classism, or hypocrisy in any of those countries, thank goodness!"

Thank goodness we have America as the only solution to these problems! Seems to be working out swell so far!
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 5:44 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is indeed a lesson in global capitalism for KFC. The lesson is that everything you do must be carefully vetted so as not to offend the ignorant morons in the US who believe that everyone everywhere shares their strange local hangups.

The lesson is actually that as the reach of a corporation expands globally, so does the audience of its advertisements. Not that Americans are stupid. The general case is what's to be taken away; the example at hand is the implement of pedagogy.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:50 AM on January 8, 2010


I love the idea that running an ad on Australian TV during rugby matches was a secret bid for controversy in America.
posted by smackfu at 5:55 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love the idea that running an ad on Australian TV during rugby matches was a secret bid for controversy in America.

We do love our conspiracy theories here, after all. Did you hear that the president's birth certificate was replaced years ago with a forgery in preparation for his move into national politics?
posted by Mikey-San at 5:57 AM on January 8, 2010


To clarify: A lot of [most?] Australians know it's a stereotype in America. It is not a stereotype in Australia, granted. But being the 52nd state of the USA, we know exactly what tiiiime it is.

Similar to the word "damn" which means bugger-all to Australians but causes gasps amongst a lot of Americans. Seriously. "Damn" = "wow" in Australia.

FWIW, there is a series of KFC cricket-themed adverts, including the same blonde fellow [ie. the actor] impersonating a police officer, and in another advert invading the playing arena posing as a security guard.

The whole campaign is a bit of a disgrace, IMO.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:57 AM on January 8, 2010


Umm, might I just point out that the "racist Korean" ad they used for extra racism evidence in this link from the OP really in no way appears to be a KFC ad. It distinctly is a different box, does not show the Colonel, and also happens to display the website of Kyochon Chicken. Maybe they're confused because of the same acronym (Kyochon Fried Chicken = KFC)?
posted by haveanicesummer at 5:59 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fried chicken is a universally amazing thing that brings joy and harmony to the world.

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy it fried chicken
And keep it company
(That's the food I eat)
posted by bwg at 6:03 AM on January 8, 2010


I must have low expectations of advertisers.  I fully expected something even more crass; perhaps to do with white meat vs. dark meat or something else universally offensive.  Not that this wasn't eye-poppingly stupid already.  And the fact it was pulled so soon does smack of opportunism.  Way to make customers dance, KFC.  I'd hoped this kind of 'sorry, our bad' tactic had been played out by now.

Huh.  Oddly the Webster's definition of 'crass' is "(of persons) so unrefined as to be lacking in discrimination and sensibility."  English is so muddy sometimes.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:08 AM on January 8, 2010


The lesson is actually that as the reach of a corporation expands globally, so does the audience of its advertisements. Not that Americans are stupid. The general case is what's to be taken away; the example at hand is the implement of pedagogy.

Does it not occur to you that the American public also has new responsibilities in this internet age?

If I went to India or Japan without knowing much about those countries, and saw swastikas around the place, would I be justified in flying into a rage? No, the right thing to do would be to ask locals about the significance of the symbol in their culture, and maybe read up on it online or in books.

The internet gives us the ability to 'travel' virtually. If certain people are not prepared to be good travelers - curious, inquisitive, withholding judgment until they know a little something of the country through which they're voyaging - maybe they should stay home.

Everyone under the age of 50 with a TV and a brain knows the fried chicken, watermelon stereotypes in Australia.

I dispute this, but it's not particularly relevant anyway. Why should it occur to Australians that non-Americans should be offended by an American stereotype? And if those non-Americans are offended, what business is it of America's? If there were, say, a Canadian ad that insulted Peruvians, I'd regard that as an issue to be resolved between Canada and Peru, both of which countries I'm sure have proper mechanisms to address complaints of this nature.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:10 AM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Because there's no long-term history of racism, classism, or hypocrisy in any of those countries, thank goodness!"
Thank goodness we have America as the only solution to these problems! Seems to be working out swell so far!


Wait - what? Who are you implying said that? Because it sure wasn't me - I am well aware of the failures of the U.S. in this regard (and many others). I was, however, surprised to see those other countries held up as a high standard for future multicultural goodness. You'd have to not know much about history to make such claims. I mean - China? - really? Unless you were being weirdly sarcastic, and I didn't get it, in which case never mind.
posted by aught at 6:11 AM on January 8, 2010


The culture of the target market shouldn't care about the culture of the offended market, but KFC should care about a bunch of loudmouthed people who are making them look bad.

Indeed, but the net result of this *is* the promotion of American mores to countries where no such issues had previously been known. To which those countries respond with a heartfelt and entirely justified "fuck you".
posted by vbfg at 6:13 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "Hey Hey" blackface thing --- totally and obviously racist.

??? Please explain, Rob Corr.

And I guess you've seen the heavy advertising for this movie on Australian free-to-air-TV this week? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381707/
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:13 AM on January 8, 2010


I dispute this, but it's not particularly relevant anyway. Why should it occur to Australians that non-Americans should be offended by an American stereotype?

I with you bro'. But tell that to my Aussie friend, Rob Corr, who commented above. And Harry Connick Jr. And all the other bleating idiots regarding the recent black face controversy in Australia.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:18 AM on January 8, 2010


Stupid Americans, always trying to bring their sensitivity to race relations to other countries. Like that time I was in the Outback and this rancher told me his dog was for "nigger killing." I almost said something, but hey-hey, easy there, American Jack, easy for me to say the guy was a "racist" who hated "dark-skinned people" when in fact it was I who was the ignorant one and he, the rancher, simply needed some time to explain to me why in his culture, the training of dogs to kill aborigines is really the same as people in India using swastikas as decoration.
posted by billysumday at 6:19 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Similar to the word "damn" which means bugger-all to Australians but causes gasps amongst a lot of Americans.

See, this is what happens when you get your info about America from TV. Gasps? Ha.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 AM on January 8, 2010


MetaFilter: Puritan-influenced nutballs sticking their business into the rest of the world.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:23 AM on January 8, 2010


I saw this ad and thought it was crap, but it never would have entered my head that it was racist. As a Brit I've never heard of this "fried food" stereotype thing.
posted by jonesor at 6:25 AM on January 8, 2010


You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken. It's not the chicken that's the offensive part, it's the fact that the blond guy is assumed to be on mortal danger because he's surrounded by black people. And that you can throw yard bird at them to distract them while you escape as if they were animals.

No. You are very severely and offensively missing the point. Nothing in that ad indicates danger or fear. If you want to suggest that people in adverts liking the products in the adverts = dumb enough to be placated, then you kinda need to write off almost every ad ever written, wherever it was written.

For what its worth he also clearly doesn't escape, or try to escape, either.

Bottom line. You read all that into a short piece of film that contained none of it. Quite frankly that makes you racist, not the ad. You see a white man surrounded by black folks and assume the situation is dangerous. Neither the ad, or the actual context, support this position so I can only assume you have overlayed your latent racist fears onto something that did not support those fears.

If you were contextualising someone else's outrage, but do not personally find the ad offensive I apologise for my accusation. Otherwise, though ......
posted by Boslowski at 6:25 AM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I read this article last week that discussed the hipster love of bacon as classist, given that bacon was traditionally a poor person's food

Is it okay for an Austin-dwelling, crafting, educated, white woman to adopt and adapt a term used by and against a more urbane and hip-hop centered culture? [...] Please doesn’t intend their name or stance to be racist, the effect is that it has made several people (who have bravely spoken publicly) feel uncomfortable. And I like bacon unironically. But I consider it one small part of a larger diet. [...] The craft world isn’t white. It never has been.

What? Oh dear. I sincerely ache for these people. They have swallowed the sword of identity politics so deeply that it's now prescribing their dietary halal and haram, and tying their tongues into knots.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:26 AM on January 8, 2010


I just wrote about nine different uber-snarky responses to uncanny hengeman's comparison of blackface with White Chicks, but ultimately I'll just say that the history of minstrelsy in America is not just a fiction concocted by American LIEberals to dupe people into not having fun - in fact, it's a really interesting period of our history and if you look into, I'll guarantee you'll get sucked into the strangeness of it all, the interesting characters, hell, even the depictions of white "rubes" in vaudeville and minstrel shows are rather offensive - I'm rambling. I guess what I want to say is, in response to "What's the diff between blackface and whiteface" - the answer is loads, but it helps to know the history, and - here's my real point I guess - that history is fascinating and you should look into it.
posted by billysumday at 6:31 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a lesson in global capitalism for KFC, not the imposition of values by a bully nation. They inadvertently released an ad in one market that (apparently) offended people in another market. It wasn't intended to exist within their culture set, but this is THE INTERNET and so it did. Oops. The culture of the target market shouldn't care about the culture of the offended market, but KFC should care about a bunch of loudmouthed people who are making them look bad.

Yes, this. A corporation the size of KFC should know by now that there is no such thing as operating solely in the local market in some sort of a vacuum.
posted by Zinger at 6:35 AM on January 8, 2010


See, this is what happens when you get your info about America from TV. Gasps? Ha.

Mate. I've been there. 1990s, mostly Illinois and Michigan, mostly blacks, mostly when I was working at a summer camp for underprivileged kiddies.

Me: "damn"

Kids and American-born councillors: [GASP!] "You cussed!!!"

Repeat x 1000. I couldn't stop saying it because it was so... so... normal. Please stop being so racist, smackfu and respect my culture and anecdotal evidence.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:39 AM on January 8, 2010


Oh dear. I sincerely ache for these people. They have swallowed the sword of identity politics so deeply that it's now prescribing their dietary halal and haram, and tying their tongues into knots.

I think the term first referred to was 'Knitta, Please' rather than bacon, but the whole bacon thing really confused me. Almost as much as the ironic hipster bacon-on-everything thing.
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on January 8, 2010


billysumday:Stupid Americans, always trying to bring their sensitivity to race relations to other countries. Like that time I was in the Outback and this rancher told me his dog was for "nigger killing." I almost said something, but hey-hey, easy there, American Jack, easy for me to say the guy was a "racist" who hated "dark-skinned people" when in fact it was I who was the ignorant one and he, the rancher, simply needed some time to explain to me why in his culture, the training of dogs to kill aborigines is really the same as people in India using swastikas as decoration.

We have a good number of people - both from the dominant white culture and from indigenous and other minority cultures - who are extremely sensitive to race relations and who work tirelessly to advance the cause of racial harmony in this country. If I want a lesson on race in Australia, I'll listen to Lowitja O'Donoghue or Galarrwuy Yunupingu or Waleed Aly, not some American blow-in on Metafilter who wouldn't know Uluru from Oodnadatta. Sensitivity to race relations is not an exclusively American product, to be exported to the world. I'm pleased to say we manage to grow our own little crop of it here.

I'm appalled that you met a station owner (I assume you meant something like this by the American term 'rancher') who said something so absolutely foul and despicable. Though it seems highly unlikely that he actually did have a dog trained to kill Aborigines, you should have gone straight to the police with your information.

Please don't suggest that decent Australians condone the killing of Aborigines. It's incredibly offensive. One of the few things that make me proud of this country is that we have abolished the death penalty, so I'm hardly likely to support the murder of innocents by trained dogs. But all that has nothing to to with this ad. Even if this ad had been intended to be offensive, saying persons of African descent like fried chicken is probably not in the same ballpark as actually killing people, you know?

At no point have I - or any Australian on this thread - argued that sensitivity to race relations is a bad thing. We are simply pointing out that, unless someone can show us evidence to the contrary, there doesn't seem to be any issue of race relations here - simply an inadvertent breaking of an American taboo that has no bearing on the Australian scene.

So yes, do please settle down American Jack. And please don't confuse a fast-food commercial with 'nigger-killing'.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:42 AM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


The outrage, as far as I can see, is caused by Americans' lazy assumption that the same connotations attach to this food in Australia as in the US.

The intellectual gymnastics that people will perform in order to make a situation fit their worldview is pretty outstanding. I mean, I could stare at this situation cross-eyed for a week and it wouldn’t occur to me to use it to cast Americans as lazy.
posted by Garak at 6:43 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a lesson in global capitalism for KFC, not the imposition of values by a bully nation.

as if global capitalism isn't an imposition of values in itself
posted by pyramid termite at 6:47 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, I could stare at this situation cross-eyed for a week and it wouldn’t occur to me to use it to cast Americans as lazy

I did not say Americans were lazy. I said the assumption these Americans made was lazy - and it was. They did not bother to find out what connotations this ad would have in an Australian context; instead, they just applied their American worldview to a situation involving non-American cultures. That's intellectually lazy.

Please try to read more attentively. Failure to do so makes you look lazy.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:48 AM on January 8, 2010


eatyourcellphone: you're having your chain yanked. You're responding to a facetious comment that is making a point about objective/subjective standards for racism.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:48 AM on January 8, 2010


It wasn't facetious in that that situation actually did occur, but yes I was making a broad point about standards of racism (which eatyourcellphone introduced with his/her India/swastika example) and not really discussing the advertisement in any way.
posted by billysumday at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2010


Ok... first off I really didn't see anything wrong here at all. They are not from American and are not African in ancestry. So how can it be racist? I'm not from there. Perhaps breaded then fried chicken given as a gift is a sign of good will over there? Shoot if someone from Australia were to come to a freezing cold football game up here and offer me fried chicken I'd be his friend. Also it is kinda jerkish for someone from our country to apply a commercial not meant for this market nor our cultural mixing pot and say "HEY that's mean change it!" It's almost the same as a neighbor from across the street walking into my backyard and saying "Hey you! Don't grow tomatoes! I don't like them!"
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2010


Kids and American-born councillors: [GASP!] "You cussed!!!"

it's entirely likely that they were making fun of you for using what is a relatively weak cuss word after not using much at all - because i can assure you that they had heard, and likely used, a lot worse words than "damn"

after baseball, cussing is the no 1 american sport
posted by pyramid termite at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're responding to a facetious comment that is making a point about objective/subjective standards for racism.

Given billysumday's penchant for incredible aggression, I doubt that. I think you've just given him a very convenient out.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:56 AM on January 8, 2010


it's entirely likely that they were making fun of you for using what is a relatively weak cuss word after not using much at all - because i can assure you that they had heard, and likely used, a lot worse words than "damn"

Yep. 12 year old girls with files saying they were raped by their step dads with guns to their heads. Alcohol foetal syndrome kids that looked more like lobsters than human, 10 year old boys flipping me the bird saying "get fucked you can't tell me what to do white piece of shit!"

Now you're telling me... ME... an Aussie wot went to a Catholic Christian Brothers boarding school… that I don't know when dozens and dozens of different people are yanking my chain?!

What the fark ever. There are not enough interrobangs in the universe to express my incredulity at your conclusion.

On preview, Catholic Christian Brothers is a tautology, but damn it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:17 AM on January 8, 2010


They are not from American and are not African in ancestry.

???
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2010


Given billysumday's penchant for incredible aggression

What the... I think that's the first time anybody's ever accused me of being aggressive in the least, let alone "incredibly aggressive".

BUT MARK MY WORDS IT WILL BE THE LAST, CAUSE YOU'RE A DEAD MAN!!!!

hambuger hambuger hambuger hambuger hambuger
posted by billysumday at 7:22 AM on January 8, 2010


nb: Christian Brothers boarding school.

Ground zero for chain yanking in Australia. No one has a thicker skin than a graduate from such an education. No one.

You racist Liberal Americans probably don't know this.

:)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:23 AM on January 8, 2010


Yeah, the argument for racism in that last link is pretty weak. This seems to be the entirety of their argument:

"I'm also surprised that someone had to tell the Australian branch of KFC that America has culturally-based stereotypes. For one thing, ah-no-ah-duh. Everyone knows that. And for two thing, SO DOES AUSTRALIA."

No-one misses the point that badly by accident. Australian KFC said that they hadn't known of this particular stereotype, not of the existence of stereotypes in general. And haveanicesummer is right that the second ad isn't a KFC ad in the first place. So the whole incident seems to be a convenient vehicle for that guy's self-righteousness.
posted by creasy boy at 7:36 AM on January 8, 2010


I'm just going to chime in as another Australian voice and say this advertisement is probably producing a false positive on the US racism Early Warning System. I think. Maybe. Keep the nukes in their silos just to be safe, okay?

That out the way, it sometimes feels like Australians would rather do almost anything than discuss racism in Australia. It seems like we won't ever address it unless something happens that makes the racism in Australia public and overt and undeniable. Until then we just get defensive about it. We find excuses to talk about something else.

It makes me worried, because when that conversation finally happens it's going to be all the more wrenching and vituperative for having waited so long. And when we do find ourselves finally getting serious about taking ownership of our racism, I hope our American friends are there to help us with it - not because they've successfully solved the problem of racism, but because they're further along that particular road than we are.
posted by Ritchie at 7:48 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


uncanny hengeman: I'm not entirely clear on the setting, but in a situation with kids and councillers, yes in the U.S. "damn" is often considered a "cuss." Among adults when children weren't around, I can't imagine any average person even thinking of batting an eyelash at damn. In addition, our censorship happy media do not actually censor the word damn. On the radio, oddly enough, when someone says "God damn," they bleep the "God" part of it. How this decision came to be made, I have no idea, it's incredibly baffling.

Of course I've also heard them bleeping the word "muffin" as a euphemism in Lady Gaga's song. In conclusion, America is a land of contrast.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:56 AM on January 8, 2010


Can people stop saying "damn" in this thread.?In America, that's like the worst swear word of all. It's a real motherfucker, although, weirdly, motherfucker isn't considered to be a swearword here at all.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


What the fark ever. There are not enough interrobangs in the universe to express my incredulity at your conclusion.

that you were being insincere?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2010


This was an advert supposed to portray an easily recognisable (and very common, world over) discomfort/inconvenience of being surrounded by an opposing team during a sporting event that was mollified with the sponsor's product. This is a concept that has been played out countless times during UK advert breaks that I can remember. It's not new, and certainly doesn't need any additional inferences to work. It's not supposed to be clever, it's just one of those easy advert things.

"Opposing team fans cheering at the wrong moment for you? Fix it with our product!"

The lead role in the advert has been decided from all the other adverts - it happens to be a white guy. I'd like to know how on earth anyone could easily and instantly recognise a situation of this guy being in the stands of the opposing West Indies fans (who happen to be at the event being sponsored and are known for being enthusiastic and noisy) area without casting a bunch of obviously West Indian fans in their team colours making a load of noise.

There is no racial content in the ad - it is portraying a topical and extremely common occurrence and an oft repeated ad style/tool. Some people have seriously got knickers in some kind of twist.
posted by Brockles at 8:03 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having watched the commercial...I don't get it.

Our man says "Need a tip when you're stuck in an awkward situation?" but I don't see what's so awkward about his predicament. Nobody in that crowd appears to be paying him even the tiniest bit of attention. They're all smiling and dancing to the music; no one looks in his direction for as much as one beat.

Their attitude towards him doesn't seem to change when he gives them the KFC, so I don't see how KFC saved the day here. That alone makes the commercial a fail in my eyes.

In the US, there are tons of commercials that show what this ad is supposed to have shown: a fan in a sea of opposing colors who gets out of hot water and gains friends by using the sponsor's product. But those commercials will tend to show the person in actual danger: hostile stares, muttering, flying objects and what not come hurling at him from the opposing fans.

I'd say this Aussie KFC commercial didn't go that route because Australians and West Indians are too nice to treat a lone fan poorly, but having spent a week in Sydney back in 2000 and having grown up among West Indians in South Florida, I know that couldn't possibly be the case. ;-)
posted by lord_wolf at 8:11 AM on January 8, 2010


"I was, however, surprised to see those other countries held up as a high standard for future multicultural goodness."

That's because you misread what I wrote. I said in the next 50 years or so. Political systems change. In the last 50 years we've seen systems of governments fall, new maps drawn, and others rise. The whole point I was getting at is the rest of the planet doesn't need America to tell it what to do all the time. If you state, "respect other cultures," then live up to your own creed and respect other cultures ability to change by themselves, especially their own needs to address their own problems in time (whether it be through the people rising up, or slow cultural/legal progression. On a tangent it's funny how Mefites tend to be anti-prescriptivist in linguistic issues, but on cultural issues the Americans here tend to be prescriptivist. Given that language and culture are intertwined this is a paradoxical state of affairs).

The point is, not everything needs to be about America.

The point of cultural/ethical/political diversity is that it gives people options. Sometimes they are bad options, and need to be rectified. But sometimes new and practical systems arise out of the quagmire. One of these systems that another country could develop might be better than what we have now. Given the last 30-40 years of American governance and progress, I sure as shit don't want the rest of the world taking advice off you.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 8:22 AM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


They are not from American and are not African in ancestry.

I know that uncanny hengeman already covered this, but what do you think the ancestry of people West Indians is Mastercheddar? I'd genuinely like to know.

FWIW, I think it's a shit advert and really not worth the kid of vitriol that it has received.
posted by ob at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2010


This is why I dislike American liberals. They are just as loud, ignorant and arrogant as the Republican rednecks and hicks they disdain; just as serenely certain that American standards, values and expectations can be applied to foreign cultures unchanged, and that any failure of these cultures to conform to American ways is a perversion to be eliminated.

This is much more offensive than the KFC commercial. You assume too much.
posted by effwerd at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2010


Damn you people. Belgium! Yes I said it. Deal.
posted by Babblesort at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is much more offensive than the KFC commercial. You assume too much.

I am not assuming - I encounter thousands of American liberals regularly on the internet, including here. I have become intimately familiar with the habits and opinions of typical orthodox US liberals.

I suppose what I said was much more offensive than the KFC commercial, though, as the commercial gave absolutely no legitimate cause for offense. And any amount is infinitely greater than none.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2010


Tell you what - when USians (and Brits) stop making advertisements and movies and TV shows with stupid, prejudices of 'ocker', stupid, loud-mouth Australians, Australia will start considering US-specific cultural concerns in their trivial TV advertisements.
Deal?
posted by Megami at 8:39 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am not assuming - I encounter thousands of American liberals regularly on the internet, including here.

I would think it unwise to assume what American liberals are like or what "typical orthodox" American liberalism is because of what you encountered on the internet.
posted by effwerd at 8:59 AM on January 8, 2010


Megami: To be honest, the very worst commercials are from Fosters, an Australian company who plays up the Australian stereotypes to sell beer. Example. They've been using that "How to speak Australian" campaign since 1994.
posted by smackfu at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2010


Oh God yes, Fosters is just evil. I say this as an Australian living in the UK who has given up explaining that real Australians do not drink Fosters.
posted by Megami at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2010


If the white dude had been a black man, then this would have been completely oh yeah this is Australia.

If the white dude had been an aboriginal Australian, then this would have been completely not really sure how to finish this sentence.
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on January 8, 2010


Wait, so Aussies are racist fried chicken haters?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2010


I think what we're trying to say is that Australia is bad, and should feel bad–except for Effigy2000 and Uburoivas.

And just to clarify what I wrote – by "black" I meant "of African descent". This may not immediately be clear to all. I'm bemused by the whole thing, honestly, and just wondering how it would be perceived in Australia and abroad if the Aussie fan were of African or Australian aboriginal descent. Not meant as a potshot at all.
posted by Mister_A at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2010


stupidsexyFlanders: "To say nothing of the fact that its founder and advertising mascot is a freaking plantation owner. "

what
posted by brundlefly at 9:26 AM on January 8, 2010


The onus is on Americans to attempt to understand other cultures, not on other cultures to ensure that their every cultural artefact is immediately comprehensible and inoffensive to any American who might catch a glimpse of it.

I almost broke my mouse button favouriting this.

This (Australian) ad (for Australians) is no more racist for failing to take into account (American) racial stereotypes than an (American) ad (for Americans) would be for failing to take into account (Hong Kong-specific) stereotypes about mainland Chinese people when doing ads for the Beijing Olympics.
posted by modernnomad at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


EatTheWeak: "I couldn't understand how any one ethnic group could be singled out as fried chicken enthusiasts when fried chicken was about the greatest food ever and surely everybody adored it."

I can't stand fried chicken, personally, but I had the same reaction when I first heard the watermelon stereotype. Watermelon is the food of the gods.
posted by brundlefly at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2010


Dude. We're all of African descent.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


WHAT ABOUT JAVA MAN?
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2010


Here is some more context on Java man, for the uninitiated.
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh lawd.
posted by clarknova at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2010


I work with students from K-8 in the States and I've never once heard or read about anyone born in this country using the term "Get fucked". Sorry, but an anecdote ring hollows when such a blatant fabrication is posted in it as actual fact.

Get your cuss terms straight.
posted by unwordy at 9:52 AM on January 8, 2010


der--"when such a blatant fabrication is included. My bad.
posted by unwordy at 9:54 AM on January 8, 2010


Get your cuss terms straight.

That's what I told your momma last night, unwordy.
.
.
.


WHAT ABOUT JAVA MAN?

Feh.

Java man schmava man.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:00 AM on January 8, 2010


I can't quantify it, but a taste-to-outrage ratio exists. My (AA) S.O. will eat fried chicken, but NOT watermelon (unless we're alone.) I'll eat potatoes and drink beer every chance I get, but Lucky Charms, however, are a private shame.

YMMV, HTH.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2010


I think it's hideously offensive for Americans to see dark-skinned people of a different culture and mentally apply to them the label "black" - that is, African-American, and any of their preconceptions, stereotypes and fears that go with the label. There's no attempt to grasp that these are a different people - how could they be, they're black!

It's mind-bogglingly arrogant and racist.

Shame on KFC for responding with an apology - the correct response to this sort of nonsense a saddened and repulsed head shaking and a turning away.

(I wonder if those who objected to this ad would have been happy if the ad had cast white people as windy supporters?)
posted by Catch at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


How the fuck did he sneak a bucket of KFC into the ground?
posted by doublehappy at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think the other angle that might be tripping up some of us Yanks is the idea that cricket and soccer rivalries can be drawn along international lines. In America, people of different national origins tend to play different sports, not on different teams, and thus we have no simple correspondence for the imagery we see in the ad. What? A White in a crowd of cheering Blacks, you say?! Poppycock. Why, by Jove, that must be a Penguins fan at a 76ers game.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I was present for this thread, the opening salvos for the Australia-American RACE WAR - finally we will determine who has the most racial baggage. My money's on America, but then again I bleed the Stars and Stripes.
posted by Think_Long at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2010


Also, the fried chicken stereotype is definitely not limited to the United States, though the subtext and history of that stereotype varies. In New Zealand, it's Polynesians, but that's irrelevant. This is an ad about cricket, directed at people that know about cricket. A significant majority of cricket fans and players are 'black'. There are ten countries that play test cricket:

Australia
Pakistan
India
Sri Lanka
New Zealand
South Africa
Zimbabwe
Bangladesh
West Indies
England

There are only three "white" teams to choose from for the KFC execs, and England and SA are increasingly "black". The West Indies are known for having loud, boisterous fans and players - look at the dancing and singing - there are very few white cricket fans that support their team in that way, and usually only after a lot of alcohol. For a fan of any side, it would be awkward sitting amongst them, though a lot of fun. For the visual contrast, I have no doubt they would have preferred a white vs black image but, realistically, a cricket fan (the target audience) sees yellow and burgundy. I saw this ad before I read this thread and I didn't even notice the skin colour thing (that could be a bad thing?).

It would be fair to say, also, that the Australia vs West Indies test series (for non cricket fans, a test series generally consists of anywhere between 2 and 7 test matches, which are five days long each and are separated by a week or two) would have been followed by people in all of those countries bar, perhaps, Zimbabwe. I live in New Zealand and I took a few hours off work to watch Chris Gayle bat against Australia and I'm not half as fanatical about cricket as some of my Indian mates. So this ad would have been seen by millions of non-white people.

Having attended a lot of sport, and being in the target audience for this ad, I can say that it resonated (even though it's a pretty bad ad) and I am now more likely to think of getting KFC after the cricket than I am to consider McDonald's or Burger King/Hungry Jack's.

Also, it seems to me that every KFC ad with a black person in it could be considered racist because the audience are making that link based on their own stereotypes. I live with an educated American girl and her racism detector is dialed right up and even benign comments can lead to ridiculous all night discussions.

Think_Long: Americans talk about their racial baggage more, but I dunno, it's gonna be a close race. GET IT? RACE?
posted by doublehappy at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


If this thread is anything to go by, this is a repeat of 1812. ;-)
posted by stinkycheese at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2010


I had no idea fried chicken could become this controversial.
posted by jmmpangaea at 12:08 PM on January 8, 2010


Also, the fried chicken stereotype is definitely not limited to the United States, though the subtext and history of that stereotype varies. In New Zealand, it's Polynesians, but that's irrelevant.

How is that irrelevant?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:47 PM on January 8, 2010


You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken.


There are actually a series of ad depicting different cricketing nationalities.

The white aussie guy passes fried chicken around...

A crowd of New Zealand fans fucking sheep and yelling "Hey bro"

English supporters whinging about the weather and how the saussages are better back home

An angry mob of Pakistani supporters dancing around the corpse of an American GI yelling Abu Akbah
posted by mattoxic at 3:49 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why should an Australian ad, produced for Australian screens, have to conform to American expectations, even if the company is American? The outrage, as far as I can see, is caused by Americans' lazy assumption that the same connotations attach to this food in Australia as in the US. The onus is on Americans to attempt to understand other cultures, not on other cultures to ensure that their every cultural artefact is immediately comprehensible and inoffensive to any American who might catch a glimpse of it.

Preach it, brother.

This is why I dislike American liberals. They are just as loud, ignorant and arrogant as the Republican rednecks and hicks they disdain; just as serenely certain that American standards, values and expectations can be applied to foreign cultures unchanged, and that any failure of these cultures to conform to American ways is a perversion to be eliminated.

On the one hand, I think you're painting with an overbroad brush. I think it would be fairer to say that ugly Americanism can cross the political divides.

The fried chicken and watermelon steretypes have a deep-rooted history in American culture.

So? Australia is not America (depsite little Johnny Howard's best efforts) and, thankfully, American values are not universal.

Stupid Americans, always trying to bring their sensitivity to race relations to other countries.

Yeah, American sensitivity to race relations. Tell me about the KKK and Jim Crow laws again. Which country did Voerwood describe as the model for apartheid, again? Who had segregated troops in WW II? 'Minutemen' looking to gundown 'wetbacks'?

Boy, yep, I'm glad those gracious, humble Americans are here to share their great wisdom with us.

There are only three "white" teams to choose from for the KFC execs,

Four, surely.

How is that irrelevant?

Because "Australia" is not "New Zealand". A difficult concept for the geopolitically challenged to grasp, I realise.
posted by rodgerd at 4:15 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


This may come as a shock to some people, but....lighter-skinned people historically have treated darker-skinned people pretty badly. True in America. True in Australia. True lots of places. Even recently.

Therefore, though it was not produced with bad intentions, and though it's part of a series, and though it's honestly trying to highlight a cricket rivalry, it STILL does not rise above the ick factor of a white guy grimacing while surrounded by blacks, and looking to change the situational dynamics with a food bribe.

Which means the fried chicken, the cricket, and especially this whole stupid, maddening conversation about American cultural imperialism are ALL FUCKING RED HERRINGS that have NOTHING to do with what makes this ad questionable.
posted by mreleganza at 4:24 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


it STILL does not rise above the ick factor of a white guy grimacing while surrounded by blacks

Despite the fact it is solely based on a sporting rivalry between nations it is STILL questionable because some people can't just fucking let go of some bad treatment* in the past? And that being in the wrong supporters area is ALWAYS uncomfortable (even if it isn't dangerous- not that this was implied here) regardless of race, colour or social standing?

Will it ALWAYS be 'black vs white' in the people who find this ad objectionable? Is there ever going to be a point where someone can use two different countries having friendly sporting rivalry without people only ever seeing skin colour?

This is not the issue you are looking for. Move along. If the ad had been the guy in a bunch of England cricket fans, you'd not have batted an eyelid. Replace the West Indies with white English cricket fans - if you don't see the same advert YOU'RE DOING IT FUCKING WRONG.

*not in any way condoning said treatment or suggesting it's not a serious historical issue.
posted by Brockles at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


a Penguins fan at a 76ers game.

Where do I start here... OK first of all, there's really no such thing as a Penguins fan, and second, if there was one at a 76ers game he would be surrounded by a legion of EMPTY SEATS.

This is Pennsylstralia we're talking about, not New Yorkistan, and our sports, racism, and fatty foods are completely incomprehensible to you city folk!

GAWD I hate you all. DANG IT TO HECK!
posted by Mister_A at 5:08 PM on January 8, 2010


The KFC advertising people and executives knew exactly what they were doing.

[...]

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.


Norton, my friend! How would you like to fuck me up the ass?

I know you wanna fuck me, Norton!

And you know that I know that you know that I know that you wanna fuck me!


Know what I'm saying?

Now I'm gonna bend over... and when I do... start fuckin'!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:08 PM on January 8, 2010


>Because "Australia" is not "New Zealand". A difficult concept for the geopolitically challenged to grasp, I realise.


AHHAHAH!

Nobody cares, anyway.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:09 PM on January 8, 2010


You're missing the point here. It's the idea that blacks are dangerous and scary but also dumb enough to be placated into passivity by a bribe of fried chicken.

No, you're missing the point fucking entirely. The point is that you can placate RIVAL FANS who happen to be WEST INDIAN- not "black," got it?- by sharing your food with them.

How in the fuck did this become about "African Americans"? Call a black Trini or Bajan or Jamaican "African American" and prepare, at the very least, for a lecture.

I did not a lack of Indians in the ad, since I'm married to an Indo-Caribbean cricket fanatic (from Trinidad), which does play to stereotype (the one about all West Indians being black) but if "African Americans" find this offensive then should maybe understand that not every black person in media is American.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


note, not not.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:13 PM on January 8, 2010


Whoa, Brockles — Historical mistreatment? I suppose if you look at everything that has ever happened, no matter how recently, as historical then one could make a claim like that. Serious historical issue! When was the last time a black man, woman or child suffered because of this historical issue? Just then! And again then. And... then!

Brockles, I razz you because I love you. The historical mistreatment you speak of is an ongoing tragedy in the United States and many other countries. That makes it hard to "let go". It's a far different thing to say that this is not a racist ad in the market it is intended for; it is a far different thing to say that racism is dead and to imply that people whodecry racist imagery (even when they're misguided) just can't let go of old history.
posted by Mister_A at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2010


Not both things are supposed to be far different, but you get the gist...
posted by Mister_A at 5:17 PM on January 8, 2010


The question is not does fried chicken placate black cricket fans, but what will placate white British soccer hooligans.

Hint: it's not beer.
posted by bwg at 5:25 PM on January 8, 2010


I've seen the argument advanced reasonably seriously that terrace violence declined somewhat in the '80s when dope and Ecstasy became more popular; stoned or luvved-up lads being less likely to 'take the away end' than those having necked ten tins of Stella.
posted by Abiezer at 6:10 PM on January 8, 2010


I should also add that some of our most famous hooligans (for shitty lads mag lit values of famous) were black.
posted by Abiezer at 6:12 PM on January 8, 2010


This "if you call the West Indies fans black, then you are being an ignorant American, because we all know that black basically means African-American, which means you are only considering this ad in the context of blacks in America, but THESE FANS ARE NOT AMERICAN!" argument is making my head explode.
posted by mreleganza at 6:27 PM on January 8, 2010


it is a far different thing to say that racism is dead and to imply that people whodecry racist imagery (even when they're misguided) just can't let go of old history.

I didn't say that racism was dead at all, but people getting out the magnifying glasses, fine tooth combs and projections to force race into any situation that has more than one skin colour is not at all helping it die is it?
posted by Brockles at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This may come as a shock to some people, but....lighter-skinned people historically have treated darker-skinned people pretty badly. True in America. True in Australia. True lots of places. Even recently.

Therefore, though it was not produced with bad intentions, and though it's part of a series, and though it's honestly trying to highlight a cricket rivalry, it STILL does not rise above the ick factor of a white guy grimacing while surrounded by blacks, and looking to change the situational dynamics with a food bribe.

Which means the fried chicken, the cricket, and especially this whole stupid, maddening conversation about American cultural imperialism are ALL FUCKING RED HERRINGS that have NOTHING to do with what makes this ad questionable.


'Dark-skinned people' is an incredibly broad category. The 'black' people in this ad have little in common with the 'black' people who have historically suffered a great deal of persecution and discrimination in Australia or its territories - they're not Aborigines, or Torres Strait Islanders, or Papuans, or South Sea Islanders. These populations have a history that has very little to do with the history of slave-descended black African populations in the Americas.

Even if white Australians are less sensitive to possible offense they might cause to members of African-slave-descended New World populations, this is not evidence of racism - are liberal white Americans highly aware of, say, the various ethnic tensions that exist in Central Asia? No, because inter-ethnic rivalry in a geographically and culturally remote region doesn't confront them in the direct, urgent way prejudice against African-Americans does. Your contention that there is only one kind of black person, and only one (hypersensitive, American) way to interact with them is itself offensive, and it does apply American mores to a non-American context. White Australians don't have an extensive history of oppressing black West Indians, and we are no more obliged to be on our guard against avoiding the mildest, most unintentional 'ick factor' in our dealings with them than Americans are to neurotically fret about inadvertently offending Turkmen or Kazakhs. Stop trying to push your issues and your culturally specific guilt onto us - we have our own, quite separate, history to come to terms with, thank you.

And I'm still at a loss as to why this is an issue that needs American input. The current West Indies team and ordinary Windies fans can complain if they're offended. And any of the much-loved and respected West Indian legends of the game - who are familiar with cricket, its fans, and the cultures of the West Indies and Australia - could mount an eloquent attack on this ad if they so chose. Show Australians that Brian Lara, Sir Viv Richards or Sir Garfield Sobers are shocked by this ad and, I hope, they'll sit up and take notice. Someone who could preface their objections with something like 'As one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Century' or 'As an honorary member of the Order of Australia' or even just 'As a regular visitor to your country' might have a little more persuasive power than some American who visited Sydney once for five days in 1982, and has read three newspaper articles about the country since then. Frankly, the ire of some American Mefites who spend their entire lives in a paroxysm of rage because every place on the globe is not run on the same guidelines as a New England private liberal-arts college has little impact or relevance.

The fried chicken is not a red herring (heh, that sounds funny. Although KFC can have a weird fishy smell, due to the gnarly shit they feed their chickens), because the fact that black people were being offered that specific food is what started the outrage round this ad in the first place How many of the Americans who complained about this were aware that the West Indian cricket team itself, and the West Indian regional one day cricket competition, have both been sponsored by KFC in the past - which suggests that actual West Indian black people don't necessarily have the same reaction to this food as their US counterparts?

The cricket is by no means a red herring - it's crucial to understanding why the West Indians in these ads are not just a bunch of your generic 'dark-skinned people'. Their blackness is entirely incidental to their status as Windies fans. He's not surrounded by 'blacks' - he's surrounded by West Indies fans, who happen to be black because they're West Indian. He's not bothered by their blackness - he's bothered by the fact that he wants to watch the game sans distractions, and perhaps by the fact that their jubilation is evidence that the West Indies are winning the game we can't see. And perhaps most of all by the fact that someone is playing a steel drum right next to his ear, for Christ's sake. And your snide insinuation about 'exuberant' black people - trying to link this ad to the US minstrel tradition of the unintelligent but boisterous plantation 'darkie' - is way off the mark. These black people are exuberant because they're cricket fans rooting for their team, in their particular culturally-specific way. The (mostly white) England fans are famous for their boozy, sometimes foul-mouthed chants - if anything, the English are seen as exuberant and potentially troublesome, not the West Indians. You can't even explain your objection to this ad, beyond a vague 'ick factor'. I think we need more than that.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 7:41 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


You twice alluded to racism as a "historic" issue, and suggested that people need to "get over it." Go read what you wrote:

...it is STILL questionable because some people can't just fucking let go of some bad treatment* in the past?

and then your footnote* indicates that you think this (racism? slavery?) sure was a serious historical problem, by gum!

The thrust of your comment comes off as, "this is not racist because slavery and racism and all that happened in the past." Maybe that's not what you meant but the fact is it's what you wrote.

That's a whole different kettle of fish from your assertion that this uproar is an over-reaction/misread of something by a group of people that were never the intended audience, a position that I more or less agree with.
posted by Mister_A at 7:46 PM on January 8, 2010


This "if you call the West Indies fans black, then you are being an ignorant American, because we all know that black basically means African-American, which means you are only considering this ad in the context of blacks in America, but THESE FANS ARE NOT AMERICAN!" argument is making my head explode.

Err, who said West Indians weren't black? The point is that 'black' is a broad category - while West Indians obviously have history in common with African-Americans, they are also different in very many ways. And their relationship with white Australians will differ from African-Americans' relationship with white Americans - because the historical relationships between these groups are very different.

You're not ignorant to call West Indians black. You're ignorant to assume, despite some well-presented arguments to the contrary, and despite an unwillingness to bolster your argument with anything other than your gut feeling, that 'blackness' is a universal category, and means the same thing in every context. I wouldn't expect you to relate to indigenous Australians the same way I, as a white Australian, do. Because Australian Aboriginality means a different thing when an Aborigine is relating to a white Australian who is living on land that once belonged to the Aboriginal person's ancestors. Australian Aboriginality means a different thing when the Aboriginal person and the non-Aboriginal person are both voters in the elections that bring to power the governments that help or hinder indigenous advancement.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:09 PM on January 8, 2010


while West Indians obviously have history in common with African-Americans

Clarification: West Indians of African heritage are of course the ones who have history in common with African-Americans.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:32 PM on January 8, 2010


You can't even explain your objection to this ad, beyond a vague 'ick factor'. I think we need more than that.

When, when a country plays sport that's called a World Series - but takes teams only from the host country - well that has to be telling.
posted by mattoxic at 10:25 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


When a country plays sport that's called a World Series - but takes teams only from the host country - well that has to be telling.

You're too harsh. There is one non-American team that plays in the World Series - the Blue Jays, from that mysterious, far-flung and little-explored land named Toronto, Canada.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 10:38 PM on January 8, 2010


You're too harsh.

Am, I also forgot the LA Galaxy who play Toronto and AC Milan. But hardly like playing amongst Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, The West Indies, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, England, Bangladesh and South Africa- in summer - then during the rugby season....
posted by mattoxic at 10:53 PM on January 8, 2010


I was walking down the street, concentrating on trucking right. I heard a dark voice beside of me and I looked around in a state of fright. I saw four faces [one mad], a brother from the gutter. They looked me up and down a bit and turned to each other.

Well, he looked down at my silver chain. He said, "I'll give you one dollar."

I said, "you've got to be joking man, it was a present from my mother."

He said, "I like it, I want it, I'll take it off your hands, and you'll be sorry you crossed me, you'd better understand that you're alone, a long way from home."

And I say "I don't like cricket. – I love it."

/RACIST
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:53 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


TL/DR: I brooded on this for much of the day. I clearly understand the variety of cultural values and also largely feel that my culture (Northern Californian by birth) still largely holds some cross-cultural stereotyping. Our country has a unique and unpleasant non-tradition of holding black persons in anything but equal esteem. To be fair, the popular depiction of white American culture isn't much better: we are aped for our up-tightness, loudness, our ignorance and crassness.

To an extent, we worry about what our least common denominators might construct with the images of a white guy handing chicken to black people -- unencyclopedia, perhaps. Its all done very pleasantly, if you want to see that. Frankly, KFC is crap and its absolutely embarrassing that we are talking about the relative cultural values of advertising homogenized, unhealthy filth.

People of the world: some of the most forsaken places on this planet are found near KFC restaurants. Do you need to go further than McDonalds? The sadder truth, that everybody loves KFC is evident. I had a hard time determining if the white flesh in the video was even from a bird. I doubt no matter what your cultural traditions your doctor would much favor a meal there.

These are my thoughts when evaluating the ad: Do West Indians really play steel drums in the stand? Would a WI fan look at the ad favorably? Who is the target audience? No wonder he's so skinny -- he never has chicken.

In reflection, it is unfortunate that in this country certain relationships between the races is perhaps not as easy as some Australians find it to be. I think as much as it doesn't matter, it would be nice if more people outside the US understood the issues arising from centuries of slavery and the economic ripple this would cause on both sides of the tracks. I think often times we wish we could all either fuck off one way or another: I think at the base we may actually find a white person giving a black person anything embarrassing and that's kind of too bad.

In the next commercial, they should show the KFC guy getting some Malibu or something back. "Hey wh----, you're sitting in the wrong setion. Have some ----: they are quite hot and you will need a Red Stripe to cool off."

...

Does anybody read the comments down here?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:32 AM on January 9, 2010


can I just chime in as an american liberal who thinks people are overreacting to this ad?

no?

damn.
posted by flaterik at 3:50 AM on January 9, 2010


Dear mippy, I really wish you hadn't posted this because A) outrage filter and really not the best of the web, B) I was hoping this would go unnoticed by much of the world (read: MetaFiler) and C) in light of the blackface skit this looks like Australia is full of racist hicks.

I think the fact you even linked to the Hey Hey/Blackface thread is entirely uncalled for. "Previously"? Really? I think the two situations are different enough that they shouldn't be discussed together, but if we must...

I objected to the blackface skit because for me it was based purely on the level of "ha ha, isn't it funny to dress up as black men" and "aren't black men funny to look at". Whether they are the Jacksons or not, that's what their disgusting drag at was making fun of - how people look.

Blackface, while not entrenched in our history as much as in American history, still reeks of the kind of racism that to me seems blatant and crude and obvious. It's not subtle. It's not insidious. It's offensive on its surface.

Now I heard about the KFC ad before I saw it. I understood the fried chicken stereotype, but I suspect that is very culturally specific to the US - and can't even think of the equivalent here in Australia. I did wonder how a particularly US stereotype about African Americans applied to people from the West Indies, but I could see where something could be misunderstood.

Then I saw the ad. And I'm really puzzled by the response. It's pretty clear to me that it's about sporting rivalries and not about the colour of anybody's skin. I think in an ad like this the finer line might be drawn over whether a crowd of black people might seem threatening to the lone white guy (cheering while black?), but I think it's pretty clear that the West Indian fans are having fun and the lone Australian just feels left out because he's supporting his team while surrounded by the opposing team.

I have no interest in cricket. I had no idea this one one of a series of ads. I have no interest in KFC. I know the stereotype of African Americans liking fried chicken, but really don't see how this ad depicts that.
posted by crossoverman at 4:59 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do West Indians really play steel drums in the stand?

Yes.

In fact, if the world-policing Americans who declared this ad a hate-crime knew the first thing about West Indian culture, they might have been able to build a case against it that would have at least been worthy of consideration.

West Indians are very proud of their flamboyant cricket fan culture. They do bring instruments - notably drums, but other things like conch shells and horns, too - to the cricket. In fact, this has sometimes been a source of friction between the West Indies and other cricketing nations. At one point, complaints about noise levels from English and Australian teams led Barbadian cricketing officials to attempt to ban drums at cricket matches. Many Barbadians reacted negatively to this, as their ancestors had been forbidden to dance or play drums and horns during the era of slavery.

There was also negative reaction from other West Indians. The Antiguan (Sir) Viv Richards, then the West Indian captain, and later one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Century, called the ban 'shortsighted, anti-social, and disrespectful of black people'. He reiterated his opposition to such bans soon after the disastrous 2007 Cricket World Cup, for most of which the International Cricket Council attempted to impose bans on instruments at grounds: "The true Caribbean people are carnival people, we are vibrant people, not dead people. We like to be heard and we like to have fun."

So, those Americans who wanted to disparage this ad could have done a little preliminary Googling and used this aspect of Windies-Oz relations to mount their attack. It would have been an argument worth addressing. Instead, they foolishly started banging on about a largely irrelevant stereotype from their own culture.

Even taking into account this aspect of Windies-Oz relations, I still don't think the ad is racist. It's not about calling for a ban or disparaging Caribbean culture; it's just saying it can be a downer to be stuck in the middle of a bunch of noisy opposing supporters, and that a quarter of an hour's peace after having a steel drum behind your noggin all day might be worth the price of a bucket of KFC's slimy mutant chicken. I'd think West Indians were being over-sensitive if they complained about this aspect of the ad, but if a significant number were bothered by it, I'd give way to them. Because steel drums actually have something to do with their culture and their history, and they are the people actually being represented in this ad.

A purely personal note: CHRIST, I FUCKING HATE CRICKET! Can't Americans find things out for themselves, instead of making me work my Googling-fingers to the bone dredging up facts and figures to disprove their half-assed, unfounded attacks on my country and culture? I got more than enough motherfucking cricket when I was a kid - I had hoped Metafilter would be a largely leather-and-willow-free zone.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:53 AM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I predict this thread will last for five days and result in a draw.
posted by Ritchie at 6:10 AM on January 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think a lot of people who say this isn't racist have an incorrect frame of reference, they are like gold fish, some how viewing the ad without and historical context...

For example, if I raped your mother say 20 years ago, but I served my time and now somehow we end up sitting next to each other in a social situation at a bar. In a bar often people tell jokes, it might be perfectly acceptable to make a 'your momma is' joke. This might get a few laughs, a smile, or a playful punch to the shoulder...but with the 'historical context' this joke might be inappropriate. It might bring up certain emotions from the past for yourself, and I suspect you would not be amused by the humor.
posted by lonelid at 10:00 AM on January 9, 2010


lonelid, your analogy is so far off the mark I'm not sure where to begin.

A better imaginary scenario would be this:

England has historical class divisions that are far more profound than in the US. While less so today, this still manifests itself in "northerner" vs "southerner" stereotypes, which many people find offensive.

In the US, the midwest regional office of KFC decides to run a promotion during a college football showdown between two colleges -- one in North Dakota, the other in South Dakota. The premise of the ad is that the fan of the southern team somehow ends up surrounded by large, drunk fans from the northern school. In an attempt to placate those fans, he offers them some tasty KFC, and everyone is happy and enjoys the rest of the game.

This ad is posted on YouTube. In England, people lose their shit, decrying the US office of KFC as pandering to the worst classist stereotypes of "northerners" as drunk and unhealthy. A strung out debate on MeFi commences. The people in the US go "hey, what the fuck? We weren't talking about whatever issues you people in England have about northerners and southerners -- we were talking about north and south dakota!"

Do you see how ridiculous that would be? This is no different.
posted by modernnomad at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of people who say this isn't racist have an incorrect frame of reference, they are like gold fish, some how viewing the ad without and historical context...

What rubbish. Feel free to elaborate on the historical frame of reference that is required that exists between Australian cricket fans and West Indies cricket fans that makes your point.

Or even West Indies people and Australian people. There IS no historical context that makes this advert racist that is relevant to the scenario. Which was the point.
posted by Brockles at 3:53 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are only three "white" teams to choose from for the KFC execs,

Four, surely.</em

Um, not including Australia because the ad doesn't really work if you surround an Australian with Australian fans. Zimbabwe isn't a white side any more, either, in fact, I'm not even sure they play tests any more.

Now, if it had been Andrew Symonds in the crowd and they'd placated them by making monkey noises and giving him whiskey, there'd be something to argue about.

posted by doublehappy at 3:22 AM on January 10, 2010


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