Is this KFC ad racist or is this another example of American cultural imperialism? I personally do not think that this ad is racist and here are my reasons.
Is the KFC Ad Racist?
To start with … what is the first question really mean? How can an ad be racist? An ad can be racist if it perpetrates negative stereotypes that reinforces views of the creators that one particular ethnic group has qualities influenced by their ethnicity that are not as good or inferior to another ethnic group. Therefore in this example does this ad display negative stereotypes of West Indians as a ethnic group with qualities based on ethnicity that are inferior to Australians (and I guess in particular “white” Australians?)
1. This ad was made by Australians for an Australian audience. This ad was uploaded to Youtube and other websites without permission. It was not intended for audiences outside of Australia.
2. Australians … and the West Indians as far as I know .. do not have any negative stereotypes (historical or otherwise) associated with West Indians and fried chicken. I am not aware of Australians having negative sterotypes in relation to fried chicken and any ethnic group including Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
Negative associations with fried chicken and African Americans exist within the United States. This negative association between fried chicken and African Americans have a long history and may have evolved out of American Slavery. Historically the connection of African Americans to fried chicken was done in a way to dehumanize African Americans and subject them to ridicule. This process helped contribute to prejudice and discrimination in the United States. (see http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/chickenwatermelon/index.html).
However it is worthwhile going back to the point that this ad made for Australian audiences and the group of people in it are not African Americans but West Indians and Australians. West Indians are NOT African Americans. That is like saying the Canadians are the culturally the same as Americans. Or Australians are culturally the same as Americans … and that is offensive.
3. KFC is a major sponsor of Australian cricket. (KFC are also a major sponsor of West Indian Cricket). KFC are playing a series of ads about how an Australian male cricket fan gets the best possible situation to watch cricket. This includes getting flatmates (“white”) to be quiet and getting in-laws (“white”) to watch the cricket by feeding them fried chicken. (see ad series at KFC website – http://www.kfc.com.au/cricket/ )
This ad in particular is about an Australian supporter sitting in a group of the other teams international supporters (awkward). This summer season in Australia the international visitors are the West Indies and Pakistan. Would it have been better if the group of supporter were Pakistanis? Or would that have been more culturally inappropriate?
To summarize … the question was is this ad racist? NO! Is it a good ad? No. I think creatively it is a terrible ad. But it is not racist.
Is this an example of American Cultural Imperialism?
What is cultural imperalism? Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting, distinguishing, separating, or artificially injecting the culture of one society into another. It is usually the case that the former belongs to a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter belongs to a smaller, less important one. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_imperialism and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Empire).
So … is condemning this ad being racist an example of Americans (as individuals and not a group) imposing their cultural stereotypes onto Australians . I think the answer is YES.
What do you think?