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View Full Version : Hoekstra's Racist Superbowl Ad and What to Do About It



ViolettaVane
02-08-2012, 06:24 PM
Pete Hoekstra, a Republican candidate in Michigan, aired an extremely harmful, racist Superbowl ad in Michigan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F4F_rv9i9s8). The ad is part of a campaign designed to smear his opponent by associated her with Chinese who are trying to steal American jobs and money. There's a website associated with it: debbiespenditnow.com. A recent post at angryasianman.com (http://blog.angryasianman.com/2012/02/pete-hoekstra-and-yellow-girl.html) has updates and a good analysis of the issue.


On top of the fact that the ad is so ridiculously stupid and poorly produced, the worst part is that it's dangerous. It's preying on fears of the foreign Asian other with the hopes that voters will go along with the vaguely threatening Oriental-ness of it all, packaged pretty in a shitty accent.

The fact hasn't escaped us that Hoekstra is running in Michigan, the same state where Vincent Chin was brutally murdered thirty years ago -- a victim of the racially-charged anti-Asian discrimination of the time. Can we really talk seriously about progress?

For those who don't know, Vincent Chin was a Detroit Chinese-American who was murdered by two white men in 1982 who were angry about Japanese "taking their jobs" and decided to single out an Asian stranger to take revenge on. They never served jail time.

Here is my own, very personal take on the issue that I've posted across several venues already.


Many people are rightly decrying the frothing racism on display in the Hoekstra Yellow Peril ad. It's in a long line of anti-Chinese propaganda going back to the 19th century, in which racist tropes were mustered up to justify the mass lynching and massacre of Chinese laborers all across the western United States. That's where the phrase "Chinaman's chance," comes from. When the white folk got angry, that was how much chance they had of escaping alive.

Mark Twain once satirized this racist mania in the following two perfect lines: ""Ah, there goes a Chinaman! God will not love me if I do not stone him."

When I was in school in the 1980s, the epicenter of the Yellow Peril had been temporarily relocated to Japan. Japan was buying America. Magazines, movies, news shows, all proclaimed it. American jobs were being destroyed. Lives ruined. It was all the fault of a sinister yellow slant-eyed race.

The level of racist abuse I received every day ebbed and flowed according to the level of virulence of anti-Japanese news items. Kids would see their parents shaking their heads, worrying about their jobs, muttering about Sony and Toyota, maybe rehashing a centuries-old anti-Chinese trope and applying it to the Japanese.

The next day, those kids would go to school, see me, sing ching-chong ching-chong, pull up their eyes at the corners, hold their noses pretending that I smelled bad when I walked by, leave notes on my locker that told me to "go home," or just plain throw stuff at me. They would go home that day feeling better, probably, that they had struck a blow for their family and their nation.

This is what Hoekstra is responsible for, now, in 2012. The ad aired in Michigan. The next day after the Superbowl, Monday February 6th, some kids in Michigan went to school and saw an Asian girl, like the one in the ad. They might have heard she was Chinese-American or Japanese-American or Hmong-American, but that wasn't important, because she looked Chinese. So they talked to her in a funny fake accent and pulled up their eyes at her. When she told them it wasn't funny, and asked why are you doing this, please stop, they laughed at her to see if they could make her cry, if they could make her run away, if they could drive her out, if they could stop her taking away their family's money like the woman in the ad.

This happened. It happened to me. It happened yesterday. It's happening all over again.

This is what Hoekstra did.

POSSIBLE ACTION LINKS
Read the OCA (Organization of Chinese-Americans) statement:
http://ocanational.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=758&Itemid=104

Give money to Hoekstra's opponent, Debbie Stabenow:
https://stabenow.ngpvanhost.com/crmapi/contribute/MoneyBomb

Sign the Change.org petition to get Hoekstra to apologize:
http://www.change.org/petitions/senate-candidate-pull-your-racist-ad-from-television-and-give-a-formal-apology

Also, please if you're angry about this, think twice about directing anger to the actress. I don't condone her choice... but she's the one who has to live with what she did. Hoekstra deserves full, 100% blame on this, no dilution.

Shadow Dragon
02-09-2012, 01:40 AM
Honestly, it might not have been so bad if the girl didn't speak in broken english. If she spoke fine with a slight accent or just spoke in Chinese (not sure if that's what their language is actually called) with translated subtitles, it could have worked. It'd still have some racial undertones to it but at least it wouldn't be blatant.

mirandashell
02-09-2012, 01:53 AM
I'm not sure this kind of racism can be said to have levels. Whether her English is broken or not makes no difference to the underlying message.

And OP, the best way to defeat this is for no-one to vote for the shithead.

rugcat
02-09-2012, 02:26 AM
If you were familiar with Hoekstra, his ad would not have come as any surprise.

Shadow Dragon
02-09-2012, 02:42 AM
If you were familiar with Hoekstra, his ad would not have come as any surprise.
Well then, thank the gods for politicians wanting to put their stupidity on television. Gives us all the chance to realize how bad some of them are.

FoamyRules
02-09-2012, 04:12 AM
If you were familiar with Hoekstra, his ad would not have come as any surprise.
That's true, but still this ad is tasteless. I hope he loses to his opponent because you know what they say, "You can't fix stupid."

I totally get you Violetta it's a shame in this day and age that people are still treated this way. That's the world for ya.

ViolettaVane
02-10-2012, 12:36 AM
Thanks, Foamy.

One bright spot: this parody video. It's funny as hell. I hope someone does peepee in Hoekstra's coke.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/58edb4c724/controversial-racist-pete-hoekstra-ad?rel=player

FoamyRules
02-10-2012, 02:32 AM
Thanks, Foamy.

One bright spot: this parody video. It's funny as hell. I hope someone does peepee in Hoekstra's coke.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/58edb4c724/controversial-racist-pete-hoekstra-ad?rel=player
OMG that was a hilarious. Also this is interesting http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72699.html

Kitty27
02-11-2012, 11:21 AM
What in THEE hell is this?

What could have possessed him to do something like this?

I signed the petition. My Gawd,just when you think no more stupidity can emerge,someone comes along and proves you wrong.

Anjasa
02-11-2012, 04:44 PM
What in THEE hell is this?

What could have possessed him to do something like this?

I signed the petition. My Gawd,just when you think no more stupidity can emerge,someone comes along and proves you wrong.

No kidding. You think about all the people involved in producing and editing and putting out the ad for one of the hottest commercial events in the year... and no one thought to say 'Hey, this might not be a good idea. This is actually really offensive.'

It boggles the mind.

AKyber36
02-13-2012, 06:27 AM
Unfortunately, I'm finding the responses to the outcry from the Asian-American community to the ad very disheartening. It seems like no matter how much we speak out, we're always told we're overreacting. It was the same way with the whitewashing of "Avatar: The Last Airbender". Asians got offended that we weren't given a chance to be finally represented as MCs, and we were not only told we were being counter-racist ourselves because Aang didn't look Chinese in the cartoon (What?) but that we were crying too much about something trivial. Uh, we still don't have an Asian-American actor(s) to look up to (not like how African-Americans have Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith) and we're overreacting? Uh, that's supposed to make us feel better?

People are already stating online that "hey, the ad's telling the truth about China and U.S. debt and money, so why are you guys complaining? It ain't racist." Makes me want to smack them upside the head but that won't work. Do we need to be more vocal, or are we just that easy to ignore by mainstream America?

FoamyRules
02-13-2012, 06:52 AM
Unfortunately, I'm finding the responses to the outcry from the Asian-American community to the ad very disheartening. It seems like no matter how much we speak out, we're always told we're overreacting. It was the same way with the whitewashing of "Avatar: The Last Airbender". Asians got offended that we weren't given a chance to be finally represented as MCs, and we were not only told we were being counter-racist ourselves because Aang didn't look Chinese in the cartoon (What?) but that we were crying too much about something trivial. Uh, we still don't have an Asian-American actor(s) to look up to (not like how African-Americans have Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith) and we're overreacting? Uh, that's supposed to make us feel better?

People are already stating online that "hey, the ad's telling the truth about China and U.S. debt and money, so why are you guys complaining? It ain't racist." Makes me want to smack them upside the head but that won't work. Do we need to be more vocal, or are we just that easy to ignore by mainstream America?
What about Lucy Liu, Bai Ling, and Jackie Chan? But I do get what you're saying. I remember i a survey taken by my school, Asians were considered to be the most favored minority, so a lot of my classmates didn't seem to think that racism towards Asian Americans are as bad as it is toward other minority groups.

DoomBunny
02-13-2012, 06:55 AM
Give me a sec to scrape my jaw up off the floor. Just when I think they couldn't sink any lower...

AKyber36
02-13-2012, 07:30 AM
What about Lucy Liu, Bai Ling, and Jackie Chan? But I do get what you're saying. I remember i a survey taken by my school, Asians were considered to be the most favored minority, so a lot of my classmates didn't seem to think that racism towards Asian Americans are as bad as it is toward other minority groups.

I'll give you Lucy Liu but I've never even heard of Bai Ling and Jackie Chan is more Hong Kong, not Asian-American. I mean that from America itself, I haven't seen any strong, dominating main roles for Asians in general (but particularly when talking about main male roles). I don't really count Harold and Kumar, because they're in slapstick comedy and actually played off the Asian stereotypes for both cultures. You know, an actual role that makes you think, "This guy can carry the gravitas of the movie because he's a great actor, charismatic, and very powerful on screen." Even though Ken Watanabe isn't Asian-American, the fact that his role in "Inception" didn't plug him into any stereotype made me happy. He was strong, kicked butt with the rest of the cast, and wasn't relegated to a bit role just because.

I find the biggest issue I have is that Asian-American actors just aren't given a chance. I remembered reading that the casting call for 'Avatar: TLA" was specifically for Caucasians. When a Chinese actor tried to audition, he was told he was too "Asian" for Aang. It was the biggest "WTF?" moment I had reading that.

I don't know if the MC casting block still plays into the stereotype of the effeminate Asian male who can't carry a movie for his life but it makes me wonder. It took Sidney Poitier to break the glass ceiling for African-American actors to prove that they can act just as well as anyone else. How come, decades later, the Asian-Americans still haven't seen someone from their differing cultures (anyone, really) break into a similar role? Where's the obstacle for us?

ShadowyEclipse
02-13-2012, 07:39 AM
I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

FoamyRules
02-13-2012, 07:44 AM
Oh okay I get you. Bai Ling is a Chinese actress, who played in Wild Wild West, Entourage, and Lost.. So I see what you mean. I thought the actor who played Aang was Asian or Asian American? I know there was a big controversy with that movie and it didn't do well in the box office. The guy who played Zuko was Indian, wasn't he? What tripped me out the most is that M Knight is Asian himself.

I'll give you Lucy Liu but I've never even heard of Bai Ling and Jackie Chan is more Hong Kong, not Asian-American. I mean that from America itself, I haven't seen any strong, dominating main roles for Asians in general (but particularly when talking about main male roles). I don't really count Harold and Kumar, because they're in slapstick comedy and actually played off the Asian stereotypes for both cultures. You know, an actual role that makes you think, "This guy can carry the gravitas of the movie because he's a great actor, charismatic, and very powerful on screen." Even though Ken Watanabe isn't Asian-American, the fact that his role in "Inception" didn't plug him into any stereotype made me happy. He was strong, kicked butt with the rest of the cast, and wasn't relegated to a bit role just because.

I find the biggest issue I have is that Asian-American actors just aren't given a chance. I remembered reading that the casting call for 'Avatar: TLA" was specifically for Caucasians. When a Chinese actor tried to audition, he was told he was too "Asian" for Aang. It was the biggest "WTF?" moment I had reading that.

I don't know if the MC casting block still plays into the stereotype of the effeminate Asian male who can't carry a movie for his life but it makes me wonder. It took Sidney Poitier to break the glass ceiling for African-American actors to prove that they can act just as well as anyone else. How come, decades later, the Asian-Americans still haven't seen someone from their differing cultures (anyone, really) break into a similar role? Where's the obstacle for us?

AKyber36
02-13-2012, 07:58 AM
Oh okay I get you. Bai Ling is a Chinese actress, who played in Wild Wild West, Entourage, and Lost.. So I see what you mean. I thought the actor who played Aang was Asian or Asian American? I know there was a big controversy with that movie and it didn't do well in the box office. The guy who played Zuko was Indian, wasn't he? What tripped me out the most is that M Knight is Asian himself.

A quick check on Noah Ringer (Aang's actor) showed that he's American-Indian. He does do a lot of martial arts, though, apparently. Yeah, Zuko was played by Dev Patel from "Slum Dog Millionaire". I was more accepting of that because he is Asian, but it still struck me as strange seeing him wearing obviously ancient Chinese clothes (it just seemed incongruous).

Yeah, that's the biggest thing of all. I remembered M. Night said that his daughter got into "Avatar" the cartoon series because Katara looked like her. Meaning, she finally found someone resembling her as an important character and she thought that was awesome. Which made him casting Katara and Sokka as Caucasian even weirder. The whole casting was just strange. I guess I could just thank the stars that they didn't do the Asian version of blackface for it (that would've ticked off my kiester so much).

DoomBunny
02-13-2012, 08:02 AM
Jackie Chan is from Hong Kong by way of Australia, and works with Hollywood like many ex-Hong Kong actors because that's where the work is. But the point is sound. Another example is the westernisation of the live-action Akira film. It seems the guys with the moneybags are still convinced that the general public doesn't want to see non-whites or even non-Americans in leading roles. Which is why seeing Aussie actors playing American characters still makes me giggle.

I'm not in the US but for what it's worth I signed the petition. It's always frustrating to see this crap going on and have no recourse. Makes me want to get US citizenship just so I can not vote for these guys.

FoamyRules
02-13-2012, 08:05 AM
I would've been more accepting if Katara and Sokka had've been eskimos or Alaskan natives with them being from the north and south poles and all.

A quick check on Noah Ringer (Aang's actor) showed that he's American-Indian. He does do a lot of martial arts, though, apparently. Yeah, Zuko was played by Dev Patel from "Slum Dog Millionaire". I was more accepting of that because he is Asian, but it still struck me as strange seeing him wearing obviously ancient Chinese clothes (it just seemed incongruous).

Yeah, that's the biggest thing of all. I remembered M. Night said that his daughter got into "Avatar" the cartoon series because Katara looked like her. Meaning, she finally found someone resembling her as an important character and she thought that was awesome. Which made him casting Katara and Sokka as Caucasian even weirder. The whole casting was just strange. I guess I could just thank the stars that they didn't do the Asian version of blackface for it (that would've ticked off my kiester so much).

kuwisdelu
02-13-2012, 08:29 AM
Another example is the westernisation of the live-action Akira film.

I still don't believe it's ever going to get made.

/off-topic

Jcomp
02-14-2012, 03:52 AM
just when you think no more stupidity can emerge, someone comes along and proves you wrong.


Just when I think they couldn't sink any lower...


That's the world for ya.

Alas, all of the above is true. Fucking people, man...