by Robert Moorehead
UPDATE: Toshiba has removed the video from both YouTube and from its own website. The video is still available at Kotaku.com, and has been uploaded to YouTube by user “xbatusai”: We’ll see if Toshiba releases a public statement in response to this issue.
Toshiba promotes its SuiPanDa bread maker by dressing up a Japanese woman in a blond wig and fake nose … because eating bread changes your appearance and makes you speak Japanese with a fake foreign accent. Rice is Japanese, she says, but bread is Western. You can add rice when making your bread … to make hafu bread?
Maybe they should have Becky or Shelly advertising the bread maker … use rice to make hafu bread—hafu Japanese, hafu Western. As much as that would essentialize and reify racial categories, it would still be better than having a Japanese person dress up in gaijin-face and speak accented Japanese.
Just to make sure that viewers know that this woman is gaijin, they also use katakana for her subtitles. (Katakana is used in writing foreign words in Japanese.) Oddly enough, despite the racialization of bread as non-Japanese, Japan is filled with specialty bread shops. It seems half the shops in Japan are either boulangeries or hair salons. So maybe bread isn’t all that foreign after all …
An equivalent commercial in the US would have a sad white woman eating a sandwich, but who longs for some rice for lunch. A white woman in yellowface (who speaks English with a fake Asian accent) would then tell her that making rice is too hard for Westerners. Think of Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s selling a rice cooker.
Heaven help us if Toshiba expands its devices to include other types of food, like fried chicken, tortillas, or anything else “foreign.”
Here’s the now-dead link to Toshiba’s original video: