Last week, the Washington Post wrote an article about the obvious, but I’m glad that they did, since the is the first time I recall the “mainstream” press as called attention to this issue that anyone who watches television with a critical eye has observed:
“Asian Americans have gained a presence in commercials in recent years, with companies such as McDonald’s, Verizon, AT&T, Wal-Mart and others featuring them as individual characters and in a variety of settings. But when it comes to depicting couples, the portrayal goes mostly in one direction: White guy and Asian American woman. The combination may be the most common depiction of mixed-race couples in popular culture; African Americans are rarely glimpsed with white mates in TV shows or commercials, for example. It may even be more common than an Asian American man paired with an Asian American woman. And it’s a sore point among some Asian Americans. A coalition of Asian American activists, known as the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, has “regularly” raised objections to the image in meetings with studio and network representatives, says Bill Imada, chairman of IW Group, a Los Angeles-based ad agency. “It seems to be okay if the man is white and the woman is Asian. The community thinks it typecasts Asian women as exotic or as playthings.””
When I read this, I was like, “Yes, I’ve been blogging about these issues over the past five years.” And have (or someone else at 8Asians) covered or observed in almost every instance the issues the article covers, including:
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Heineken’s The Date
- Why I Am Boycotting Ruffles & Their Poker Night Commercial
- Asian American Commercial Watch: McDonald’s – Egg McMuffin of Boyfriends – something new!
and there are countless other examples I have blogged about that the reporter didn’t reference (since indeed this pairing is so common it is almost expected):
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Ally Bank and Randall Park – something new?
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Volkswagen
Even Target, which I have diligently documented as a model advertiser highlighting Asian Americans in their ads such as:
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target’s “Green Drink”
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target’s “Flowers”
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target’s Little Drummer Girl
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target’s Back-to-School Suggestions
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target’s Trail Mix
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Target & Tiny Tree Christmas
- Asian American Commercial Watch: Yet Another Target Ad!
- Asian American Commercial Watch: All American Mom, Daughter & Boyfriend in Target Ad
- All-American Asian Family in Target Ad
But for the only mixed couple commercial that I’ve seen Target broadcasted with an Asian American again is with an Asian American woman and white husband – (at least from what I have been able to see):
Coincidentally, I happen to meet Bill Imada over the weekend at the NAAAP-SF conference and we discussed the issue briefly. Now in reality, Asian American women do marry outside of their race at about twice the rate of Asian American men (about 30% versus 15% I believe is the figure), but in television, it looks like almost 100% of Asian American women do. Let’s try to more realistically portray the diversity of Asian American, as well as all relationships, out their in our television commercials (as well as shows and movies while we’re at it). That is why I thought the McDonald’s and Ally Bank commercials were such a breakthrough and a breath of fresh air.