OFFENDER : Taco Bell
CATEGORY OF OFFENSE : Denigration ( Mockery of Asians)
MEDIA TYPE : TV Commercial
OFFENSE DATE : March 14, 2016
George Takei once played a respectable Asian character on TV as Star Trek’s Sulu. Since coming out as gay, he’s been celebrated by white America as some kind of strange oddity to laugh at. And thats exactly what happens in a Taco Bell ad that stars Takei. You can see the commercial here.
Takei makes weird facial expressions and talks in a ridiculous voice (“Oh Myyyyy!”).
They also feature him in silly animations in which he is featured as part of the joke- a silly spectable to laugh AT.
Unlike the character Sulu who seemed masculine and capable, Takei now plays the buffoon, the flaming homosexual who hardly embodies masculine traits. There is nothing wrong with homosexuality; it’s that Madison Avenue again tries to put up Asians as a laughingstock. There are so few heterosexual Asian men who are prominent in ads (you don’t see top Asian TV actors in ads) that by showcasing Takei, it has a disproportionate impact on how Americans see Asian men. If ad agencies included more strong Asian men in ads as the lead actor, this would matter less.
Separately, white gays are depicted as witty, steady on Modern Family. Neil Patrick Harris is depicted as exceptionally masculine on ‘How I met your Mother’. You can watch and respect these characters. In contrast, Takei seems like a joke. The ad agency and others would defend his role and attack his critics as homophobic. As I’ve shown, juxtapose Takei with the way gay whites are depicted and you’ll see what I mean.
Asian men need all the help they can get as far as their image.