Why Ashton Kutcher’s Brownface Popchips Ad is Racist

I’m sure a lot of you have seen this Popchips ad with Ashton Kutcher by now. One of the characters he plays is a stereotypical East Indian man, which has caused enough controversy to pull his ad from YouTube, but not the full ad mind you. But in typical fashion many are coming to the ad’s defense saying that we’ve become too culturally sensitive. And that’s “we”, as in Asians. Sorry, but bullshit. I find it pretty telling when Asians (yes, Indians are Asian) are the only minority who are so often called out for being “too sensitive”. You don’t often hear such mass outcry about the LGBT community being too sensitive. The Black community, no. Women, no. But yes, we Asians are too sensitive. And I get this, because the universal perception is that we’re not fighting for anything. We don’t experience hardships. We don’t have a history of slavery on this continent like the Black community (which is bullshit by the way). We’re the “model minority”. So it’s okay to make fun of us because we’re just like White people. We’re just as privileged as they are. I can’t even begin to explain how preposterous that perception is. There’s nothing more arrogant than the majority telling a minority how sensitive they should be when they’re being insulted – by them.

The difference between the White stereotypes in these Popchips ads, versus the Indian stereotype is that it sends a clear message that White people, as has always been the message in media, can be anything they want to be. But another race, in this case, Indians, are as an entire people, like Kutcher’s bumbling fool. If you really think it’s all in good fun, ask a person who’s never met an Indian person what they think they might be like. They’d probably describe Kutcher’s character. If that doesn’t demonstrate the perpetuation of ignorance, I don’t know what does.

But even if the ad isn’t racist, it’s definitely not funny. It’s just plain dumb on every level.

More about the ads here and here.

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