KFC vs. KGC: WTF???

KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has been promoting their new offering, Kentucky Grilled Chicken, with the tagline, UNTHINK what you thought about KFC – Taste the unfried side of KFC.

Joz and I both noticed that KFC is running a new, “multicultural” KGC commercial which features white, African American and Asian American actors. I had been channel surfing and upon catching the tail end of this commercial, I immediately re-wound the DVR just to make sure what I saw was what I saw.  My initial reaction was “WTF.” Why are the Asian American actors wearing kamikaze headbands with what looks to me to be Japanese martial arts-type wardrobe, and speaking with foreign-sounding accents — while all the other actors and actresses came across as average Americans? What the hell is KFC trying to convey with those two Asian Americans? It’s stupid commercials like this that reinforce the idea that Asian Americans know martial arts (more than once as a kid I recall being asked if I knew karate, etc…) or that Asian Americans are “foreigners” (I’ve also been told that my English is excellent – which it should be since I was born-and-raised in the United States). Does reinforcing some Asian stereotype have anything to do in promoting fried chicken versus grilled chicken?

The Asian characters in the commercial haven’t been in other previous KFC commercials, so there is no rational context as to why these Asian Americans are dressed the way they are. In the context of this commercial, how would African Americans feel if there was a gang banger or basketball player representing them (or even more ridiculous, traditional African wardrobe?). The only white stereotype I see possibly is the two “preppy” twenty-or-thirty-something guys wearing sports jackets … and I think I’m stretching when I say that. BTW – Almost everyone in this commercial, as well as other KFC commercials, are dancing ridiculously to the tune of the commercials’ theme music, to convey the excitement to KFC now offering grilled chicken.

Joz’s commentary:
Wow, first the Oprah/Kentucky Grilled Chicken coupon fiasco, and now this! KFC is screwing up royally with their promotions for KGC. Regarding the KGC commercial with the two Asian guys dressed with kamikaze* headbands… Everyone else in the commercial is dressed all normally, but why are the Asian guys the only ones dressed all stupid and fighting about chicken while speaking in dumb accents?

John, thanks for uploading the video… If people start saying “What’s wrong with this?! Asians DO sometimes wear Kamikaze headbands and argue about chicken,” I will punch them in the neck.

Maybe these guys are actually fighting about KFG?!

* Ok, I know they are not really kamikaze headbands and I definitely know they are not in martial arts clothes. I can tell they are supposed to be Japanese cooks. But these guys make no sense and are totally out of context. (Moye says the headband is called “hachimaki.” I still say that most Americans know those things as the headbands worn by kamikaze pilots. Or by Daniel-san in Karate Kid.)

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Author: John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)