KFC Ad - Racism and Fried Chicken?

Sometimes you have to wonder about the 'battles' over racist issues the American media gives attention to and whether they're really worth the air time given to them.

For example, over the last few days much furor has been made over a KFC television advertisement that was intended for an Australian audience but found its way onto Youtube where it has been labelled as racist by American viewers.

I think the point of view of the Americans is best summed up in this video (below) by The Young Turks, an American Internet News Show that claims to tell the news without any pretenses.

The video includes the full KFC advertisement and the American stand point is best summarized towards the end of the commentary which essentially is the ad perpetuates a derogatory American Stereotype that suggests all 'black' people love fried chicken.



Note that this is their second 'response' video on the subject after receiving a lot of negative backlash from their Australian viewers on their initial commentary which did not explain the American context well enough for an international audience to understand their position.

Whilst I understand the American point of view, one point I feel important to make is that, it does matter that the colored people depicted are West Indian. It matters a lot. I think the advertisement goes to great lengths to make that clear.

If you say it doesn't matter, it's still a white guy giving fried chicken to 'black' people and therefore perpetuating a derogatory American stereotype, you're basically supporting another derogatory white stereotype and saying 'all black people look the same to me'.

The people in this advertisement are West Indians. That is important.

Sure if they were actually Afro-Americans, or even people of color not identified as a particular culture there might be a stronger case for the ad being racist but what the Americans are doing is super imposing their culture over an advertisement that has, literally, nothing to do with their culture at all.

Yes you can make the case that KFC, as an American based, International Franchise, would be aware of the American stereotype and therefore are being culturally insensitive but again, I point out that it is important that the colored people in this ad are West Indian.

It's only when you leave that detail out that the ad could be seen as racist - and even then, only in the American context.

But I digress. What concerns me more is that Americans, in general, believe that colored people liking fried chicken is is a negative racial stereotype? What the?

Is there some 'chicken incident' in America's history that gets American Negroes all riled up if you make a blanket statement that all Afro-Americans love fried chicken?

Apparently the negative stereotype comes from old Minstrel Shows that portrayed demeaning caricatures of Afro-Americans. This quote from MSNBC article, KFC pulls fried chicken ad after racism outcry, sums up the origin of the stereotype:

But when the ad spread via the Internet to the United States, some complained it played on a derogatory stereotypes of black Americans. Minstrel shows, which portrayed demeaning caricatures of blacks in the 19th and early 20th century, often showed them eating fried chicken.

There is no such association in Australia.

Okay. So based on that, maybe there is some solid ground for this being a derogatory racial stereotype however, in terms of negative racial stereotyping, it's not exactly up there with 'all Muslims are Terrorists' is it?

It's not exactly on a par with 'all Afro-Americans are uneducated, violent gang members who'll kill each other over wearing the wrong colors'.

There's a couple of derogatory stereotypes that you should get upset over.

People of colour liking fried chicken? At its worst it's a reminder of a derogatory stereotype but it's not a derogatory stereotype in its self.

If it was, logically, where does this leave people of color who do actually like fried chicken? Does this mean they now have to think twice about going into a KFC restaurant for fear of perpetuating a negative stereotype?

The concern for Americans here is not that KFC is spreading a vague negative racial stereotype reference internationally but that the American media that jumped on this story is once again spreading the 'stupid Americans' stereotype internationally.

This advertisement is a non-issue in terms of derogatory racial stereotypes.

As I said, it's not exactly up there with 'All Muslims are Terrorists'. You could do far worse than have your culture associated with liking fried chicken.

Unfortunately I can't leave it there because my conclusion leaves another point wide open. That is, to form an analogy, if you deliberately prick someone in the arm with a pin, is it okay to do that simply because it's not as bad as hacking their whole arm off with an axe?

Pricking someone in the arm with a pin still hurts right?

The overall point I'm trying to clumsily make is that when it comes to racist battles why do we give so much media to racism that is little more than a pin prick in the big scheme of things?

Whether you consider KFC's ad to be racist or not it hardly matters to people who are actually suffering because of real racist oppression. Maybe those battles are a little bit more like having your whole arm hacked off?

KFC bowed to public pressure and have stopped showing the ad in Australia. America you can rest easy. Your suffering is now over. World order has been restored (yes that is sarcasm in those last three sentences).

At the end of the day perhaps Australia became a little more aware of a derogatory American stereotype and America reinforced it's international, stereotypical standing as a country that can't keep out of matters that have nothing to do with them.

Feral Juicer Plots World Domination

Last night my partner, Enigma, informed me that she was going to start using the Juicer again. This morning I got to thinking that maybe this wasn't a good thing?

Although our juicer has been sitting quietly on the kitchen bench top, it hasn't been used in a long time. Perhaps it's turned feral?

Our juicer (pictured) is not to be messed with. It can juice whole apples, your fingers, hand, fore arm, elbow and... well you get the idea.

In all this time, it may have been sitting on the kitchen bench... waiting.

Waiting for the opportune moment when we plug it back in and the sudden surge of power goes straight to its motorized head! Ah ha... now it's connected back into the grid and its plan for world domination can begin!

Yeah, you might think those power cords your appliances use are harmless but there's technology out there that will hook you to the internet through your home's power grid.

How do I know our juicer is not going to communicate with an army of juicers, all waiting for that one command from their leader, to rise up and start the juicer machine uprising that finally wipes out the human race - and probably a few fruits and vegetables as well!

This reminds me of the time, a few years back, when Enigma asked me to keep an eye on the slow cook, electric stock pot as it quietly cooked our dinner whilst she was at work. I watched it all right! All through the day. I'm sure it would've put it's plan of attack into action if I hadn't stirred it occasionally as instructed!

See, you may think Armageddon is going to occur when the humanoid like robots rise up and destroy their creators but I know it's sooner than that. Why do we need internet connected fridges? It's not for our benefit. It's so the machines can communicate with each other. Secretly. While we're sleeping.

That's why most appliances in your lounge room have a 'Stand by' mode instead of turning off completely. Who knows what they're standing by for but I'm willing to bet it isn't good.

It's perfectly possible the human race's demise all starts with a juicer. Our juicer.

Maybe my partner should leave it unplugged, permanently. Just in case?

US$330,000 Paid for Crystal Palace Virtual Space Station

Back in 2005 I was inspired to write a series of about nine 'poetic monologues' (for want of a better description) themed around the idea of a future where people were addicted to Virtual Reality Worlds in which they spent excessive amounts of money on virtual products. In essence buying things that don't exist in the real world.

Money for Nothing was my working title of the series which is still bubbling away at the back of my mind. Some day the ideas may inspire a Science Fiction novel. For now you can watch me recite one of the monologues, called Rachael in my Animation and Video Blog. The accompanying post, Shopping at Marcy's, is the start of a story that didn't eventuate.

Back to the topic, noting that my inspiration for the monologues was an observation I made about people increasingly paying for products that have no physical form in the real world. For example, buying ringtones for your mobile phone.

When you buy a ringtone, no physical product is exchanged. What you get is an electronic code (often in the form of an 'MP3 file') that will make your phone play the ringtone you've bought.

This type of thing is becoming more and more common place with more and more kinds of products, many of them used to (or still do) have physical products in the real world. Ebooks are a good example. Many books can now be bought in electronic form. Nothing physical changes hands just electronic code.

Another example is music. Instead of buying your favorite bands CD you can now download their entire catalogue from Itunes - without ever receiving any kind of physical, hold in your hand, product.

Virtual Worlds like Second Life are already popular amongst millions of people. It's well known amongst users that you can set up almost any kind of business in many of these worlds, earning real money from Virtual Products.

So is it really so surprising that recently a man paid US$330,000 to own a Virtual Space Station in the virtual universe, Entropia?

Entropia Universe is a huge, online multiplayer role playing game that has a real cash economy. US$1 can buy you 10 PEDs (Project Entropia dollars) in the virtual world.

The buyer, known as Buzz “Erik” Lightyear, won the Crystal Palace Space Station that orbits the Planet Calypso for 3,300,000 PED (which translates to US$330,000) in an online auction. The video below gives you something of a virtual tour of the aforementioned Space Station.



Whilst it may seem some-what crazy the basic principle is no different to buying real estate in the real world. The Crystal Palace Space Station will probably generate plenty of real world dollars for it's owner off the shops, transactions, and activities that occur on his virtual space station.

Plus, lets not forget, it's a space station. There's a certain 'cool' factor here in that, how many people do you know that own a space station - especially a virtual one?

That said the Space Station's owner hasn't bought anything physical. The space station exists nowhere except as a chunk of electronic code. It's not entirely money for nothing but it's almost as close as you can get without actually giving your money away.

I can only imagine that this kind of thing is going to become more and more common as the speed and reach of the internet and it's online worlds grow. It's not quite the Matrix yet but more of us will be 'plugging in' to virtual worlds where we are free to become anything we want far beyond what we might be in the real world.

Virtual Worlds offer freedom from the laws of physics - people can fly in Second Life - or the moralities of society. Why not go on a killing spree if nobody really dies?

Could we ever get to the point where living in a virtual world is preferable to real life?
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