Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dart Adams presents That's Kinda Racist © Norbit

Today I'm gonna premiere a new segment entitled "That's Kinda Racist" where I use Norbit as a gauge to determine how racist I think something in recent popular culture is or happens to be (as opposed to if it is or not because 'cism is in the eyes of the beholder). There are three different levels of perceived 'cism in my opinion. Here they are below:

I'm not so sure about that © Norbit

This can be construed as racist via a knee jerk reaction or quick glance/once over but you'd be reaching like Reed Richards to call it flat out racist (no Fox News).

That's kinda racist © Norbit

It isn't beyond the realm of possibilty that this is either borderline racist or a product of ignorance leading to the perception of 'cism. Whether or not if you get the benefit of the doubt is up to the individual to interpret but now you've made "the list", asshat(s).

That's racist! © Lil' Black Kid

No doubt about it, folks! This is authentic 'cism you're seeing here. Just like great great great great great grandma used to make! Mmmm! Damn, that's ignorant!

Let's first address McDonald's ad campaign for their (Chick-Fil-A's) new Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. They want people to eat it for breakfast and be nonconformists...wait, a fast food chain is asking people to be nonconformist through a national campaign created an ad agency? Am I the only person that thinks that this is an idiotic approach to selling fast food? Here's the normal ad they play on the regular TV stations:

This is the one that magical aired during TV shows and programs aimed towards an urban demographic (read: brown people)

The first ad was normal and even keel. No one did anything remotely stereotypical and were all treated and depicted as regular people. No one was dancing or trying to act ethnic or stereotypical of any demographic or racial group. The second one was a little forced and it implied that Southerners would dare go to McDonald's for a bootleg chicken biscuit sandwich when they have Chick-Fil-A's and Hardee's all over the place down bottom.

Why is it that fast food commercials always have to make minorities, dance, use an ethnic dialect or subject themselves to some form of coonery? There were several other fast food commercials that I wanted to use but none of them are online (but they're ALL over network TV). I'm gonna have to go with:

The newest game in the hugely popular Resident Evil franchise by Capcom is due March 13th, 2009 and will be available for purchase and play on both the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. The story of the game follows STARS member Chris Redfield who's in an unnamed region of Africa trying to suppress the spread of a dormant virus that turns the people it infects into undead mutant zombie creatures that have to be eliminated or the virus will spread to the rest of the globe and all of humanity will be in danger.

As any of us who have played this game knows, you're going to be shooting and killing large sums of infected townspeople that attack you in droves and sometimes mutate into grotesque creatures. I have a problem with buying a game where I'm a White guy in Africa mowing down groups of Black folks. Then again, I didn't want anything to do with the old Grand Theft Auto game for the same reasons (I even wrote an e-mail to DJ Pooh and told him he should be ashamed of himself for having a hand in it's creation).

I can't speak for anyone else but myself and I know that in the last Resident Evil you blew away an entire town of Spaniards (I owned that one) and I didn't once bat an eyelash. I guess I'm just insensitive to the plight of Spain and the fact that it's been raped and exploited for hundreds of years by damn near everyone but when it needs help the most the world tries to ignore it and let rampant disease and genocide destroy it (that's sarcasm, folks!).

I don't feel that even having the development team add an African female as a playable character will help change my mind on this one. I don't know if I'll buy this game when it finally drops and while I don't think this game was intended to be racist I can't help but have a bad taste in my mouth about it. My final verdict?:

The Japanese always think that they're creating something cute and endearing and over here in the States it's just seen as strange and flat out weird. They made a cellphone commercial that depicts a Barack Obama inspired character as...a goddamn monkey!:

The Japanese ad agency claimed they had no idea that their commercial could be seen as racist or offensive as they're ignorant of the American history of Black people being referred to as "apes" or "monkeys". They offered a full apology to anyone who was offended and especially Barack Obama. I don't know if I fully buy their excuse but it is within the realm of possibility that they weren't aware of the way this ad could be interpreted in North America and the UK. I still say:

In Marietta, GA the owner of Mulligans Food and Spirits decides to sell a T-shirt featuring Curious George with a banana and below it reads "Obama In '08". The owner, Mike Norman claims that he was completely unaware of the simian slur implication and that he merely thought that Barack Obama resembled Curious George.

Who in their right mind really believes that a man from the heart of Cobb County (once considered Confederate country/lynching land) didn't know that Black people (and anyone with common sense) would be offended and that it's purchasers would wear the shirt proudly because they're racists/ignorant? Come on, man! The publishing company (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) that owns Curious George's trademark and copyright have threatened to sue Norman over the nature of the images usage as well. I think this one is pretty damn obvious:

Right here in the evolved (or so we like to think) Northeastern United States we have issues regarding racist Obama T-shirts as well. Doron Braunshtein, or as he's known in the fashion world Apollo Braun has created several anti-Obama T-shirts. The most popular (and disgusting) being the ones I have pictured. This particular shirt above goes for $250 while the $69 "Obama Is My Slave" T-shirt seen below got a girl who wore it out (?) assaulted by some angry New Yorkers. She's threatening to sue Braun for damages caused by her wearing it (dumbass!).

Braun maintains that he is well within his rights to produce whatever kind of art or designs he wants. I agree with him. What I don't agree with him on are his statements and views regarding Barack Obama (which are way off base). While he has the freedom to feel and believe whatever the hell he wants and to create whatever art he wants to regardless of how offensive some people think it is. We all have the God given (or State given) right to disagree with him and let him know how we feel about his form of "free expression".

Shouts to Yellow Rebel for alerting the entire bloggerverse to this dickhead and his ignorant ass antics. This is a no-brainer, folks!:

See ya around next time for another sad, pathetic episode of "That's Kinda Racist"! Bye kids!



Yellow Rebel said...

Dart, thanks for the shout-out. We should collaborate one of these days and do a "It's Racism, It's Always Racism/That's Kinda Racist" cross-blog team-up. I agree with you on all these examples.

Jordan said...

I can't help but think that the Resident Evil game is some extremely dumb and misguided attempt at social commentary, along the lines of, "see, all this time you've been playing this zombie game you've been indulging in a genocidal fantasy, and now we're gonna make everything super-explicit so you can see what a wretched human being you are for participating." That doesn't quite make sense, since they made and profited off the games, but it makes less sense that they either wouldn't see or wouldn't care about the parallels. And about those parallels: I wonder what kind of virus would be consuming Africa that I white guy would be working to stop or contain? So that's the message of the game, to kill everyone with HIV. That's pretty disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% with the Obama in 08 and the Doron Braun ones. What idiots man, the dude must have some balls though (or just be that arrogant) to make those tshirts.

I was going to dissagree with you with the Resident Evil one by saying that if it's set in Africa well, you can't really expect to see any other race being the zombies except black people and it being Resident Evil it should be given (a pass?) or should be overlooked somewhat. But then I see jordan's comment, and wow, yeah I completely missed that view, my fault. The game developers should really speak on that part then, I didn't see it that way but I'm sure many -including Dart - will see what the game's plot (whether coincidently or purposely) implies regarding HIV/Africa.

And I can't see the McDonalds youtube videos so..

AaronM said...

Great writeup, Dart.
That Braunshtein douche gives my fellow Jews a bad name, he should be fucking excommunicated.
I love that the girl sued him because she got attacked.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I fail to see how the Resident Evil is 'kinda racist'. If the new one is racist against Africans then the last one was racist against whatever European country that was set in. Either they are both racist or neither is.

Moreover, arguing that you had no problem partaking in mass murder in the last one because it was Spanish is just nonsense. Firstly, the Spanish haven't been repressing/massacring anyone for about a century now, and of course its retarded to hold past actions on the present innocent Spanish generations. Frankly, your paragraphs on Resi Evil stink of double standards and hypocrisy, along the lines of 'ah well it is racist, but they are Spanish and were complete bastards 200 years ago so why should I care?'. Really the game isn't racist unless you have some solid proof to suggest Capcom are prejudiced against Africans. Look its a white person shooting a black person! doesn't exactly cut it.

Finally, every Resident Evil has had virus infected enemies, so that HIV argument is a stretch to say the least, and completely speculative.

Unless both Darts and Jordan have proof that Capcom are hatching some dastardly conspiracy to start up some worldwide race war via Resident Evil...then no, no I don't think it is racist.

Jordan said...

There have been two massive genocides on the African Continent within the past 14 years. There's also been an AIDS epidemic in Africa for the past 25 or so years. Every year in American high schools and colleges, students read 'Heart of Darkness,' a book where one European's idealism about Africa becomes so corrupted, his only response is to go crazy and say "exterminate all the brutes!" Context matters. The parallels are there, and the people designing these games are obviously educated enough to see them, and they're either trying to engage with them, or just don't give a shit. Either way, that's at best problematic, and at worst horribly racist.

Do you think they'd ever make a Resident Evil game where you get to play a tall blond German posted in Israel when the virus breaks out? Or one that requires you to crash a plane into a tall building to blow it up? But Africans can't afford Playstations or lawyers, so Capcom doesn't bother with sensitivity.

Dart Adams said...

@ orizio:

Africa has a history of problems including genocides, famine, apartheid, being exploited by several countries for hundreds of years and raped for their natural resources and several deadly diseases and epidemics ravaging it (latest problem being the AIDS/HIV virus) for years. Why would I want to play a game where I'm killing a bunch of people that look like me or could be my relatives? Isn't Africa suffering enough already?

Spain on the other hand is perfectly fuckin' fine. There is NO history of rampant racism and mistreatment towards the Spanish or Spain so I don't feel the same about them, sorry. Add to this the fact that I'm Black and I'm sure it'll all make sense to you.

If it were set in China or Japan I'd still think the game was "kinda racist". Not flat out racist, mind you...just kinda. I hope you understand my point of view better now.


Anonymous said...

This was a great post. I agree with all your examples 100% and unfortunately, I am a little heated because of it. The McDonald's commercial really set me off, but the bigger issue I have to deal with is thhow used to these portrayals of African Americans.

Unknown said...

On the Resident evil...If your a minority or come from a culture thats' been oppressed, viewed down on, discriminated, etc, and the oppressor's mainly been the "white man" then it shouldn't be difficult to connect the dots and see why this is very offensive. I wonder who's idea it was to set it in Africa. Hey while we're at it lets set it in an Indian Reservation or better yet at a Mexican seasonal worker's campsite.What about an Asian sweat shop. Yeahhh that'll be fun. Picking up on my sarcasm. Can you imagine back in the 80's if instead of Mega Man blasting Dr Wily's minions he was blasting an African village to kingdom come. Capcom would probably be out of business.

Quesion: what if it was a non-white guy blasting people from a small mormon town close to Salt lake city........ yeah right!

I'm sure the day it premiers people will run out in mass droves to purchase it. Maybe that's been Capcoms stragetical plan. To get as much publicity from the controversy it is stirring up.Surely there will be boycott. I wonder if Wal-mart and Target will ban it from their stores. Will Nintendo support it on their Wii. It does make you think how damn realistic these games are getting.

I miss Duckhunt;)

Anonymous said...

Umar, Check the CIA website


10% of South Africa is Caucasian, which is roughly about 4.3 Million people. Yes, Africa has white people, remember apartheid?

Orizio, in previous versions of the game, wasn’t it white people shooting white people? Perhaps all that “white on white” crime caused problems with the youths playing the game.

The animated McDonalds advert is as disgraceful as the racist T-shirts or the Monkey shouting “CHANGE.” There has to be a balance between being politically correct, historically sensitivity and Common sense.


Anonymous said...


Firstly, I find your 'isn't Africa suffering eonugh' argument rather bizarre, as while yes the continent has/is suffering terribly (although slowly things seem to being get better re: democracy and less war), I have my doubts that the African people are very worried about being turned into zombies and then massacred by an imaginary American police agency. Maybe becuse Resident Evil is a VIDEO GAME, those involved are made of pixels and thus are imaginary and can't suffer.

Secondly, the Spanish haven't been mistreated? Your joking right? There has been a long and bloody history of mistreatment and racism of the people of Spain going back to the Roman Empire. For starters, read up on the French's treatment of the Spanish during the Peninsular War, then look at bombing of Guernica by the Germans and the mass graves Stalin's henchmen left over half of Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

All of this is rather irrelevent. What matters in determining as to whether the game is racist is determining intent on the part of the game's creators. You can say the game is insensitive etc, and that is definetly a better tag for RE4 but not racist unless you can prove Capcom were actually trying to be racist, or create a racist game. Once again "look that white guy is shooting those black people" proves nothing, and the same can be said about the second last GTA game in my opinion, or any game involving a non-white person massacring a white community.

Ultimately, throwing the term 'racist', with or without 'kinda', about without proof of intent is to devalue what is a powerful term. One has to ask if one of the most powerful condemnations in western society should be used with such frequeny and ease as it is in your paragraphs re: RE4, and with nothing to back it up besides speculation.

Dart Adams said...

@ orizio:

Ultimately racism, perceived racism or what offends you is on the individual. There were a negligible amount of people who bought RE4 relishing the chance to kill a bunch of Spaniards. That won't be the case with RE5...trust me.

As far as Spain goes I'm pretty sure that the age of Apartheid, Sierra Leone diamond wars, the genocide of Darfur, the history of famine and disease, civil wars and the after effects of colonialism and the slave trade completely trump ANYTHING in the history of Spain. Who hates Spaniards besides other Europeans? Really?

There are no worldwide slurs used for Spaniards. Africans and Black people on the other hand are another story. Rednecks, Skinheads and racists worldwide will be lining up for this game next to gamers that just wanna play the new Resident Evil game. Is everyone who buys this game racist? Hell no. Were the designers of this game racist? I don't think so. Is the idea of this game "kinda racist" TO ME?

Hell yes. Let's agree to disagree on this one, orizio,