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As if white people haven’t been subjected to enough prejudice already, McDonald’s is throwing fuel on the racially insensitive fire with a new ad campaign in Japan that mocks Westerners for their poor Japanese pronunciation, general cultural awkwardness, and love of hamburgers. The ads, featuring an American caricature called Mr. James are drawing complaints from a group representing non-Japanese residents in Japan. Consumerist reports the group, FRANCA, is concerned that:

1) The character speaks broken accented Japanese (using the katakana script, one used for foreign loanwords). The impression given is that Caucasians cannot speak Japanese properly, which is simply not true for the vast numbers of non-native (and Japanese-native) foreigners in Japan.

2) The character is called “Mr. James” (again, in katakana), promoting the stereotype that foreigners must be called by their first names only (standard Japanese etiquette demands that adults be called “last name plus -san”), undoing progress we have made for equal treatment under Japanese societal rules.

3) The image used, of a clumsy sycophantic “nerd” for this Caucasian customer, is embarrassing to Caucasians who will have to live in Japan under this image.

While it’s hard not to sympathize with the almost universal discrimination white people face on a daily basis, it’s easy to understand how the Mr. James ad campaign might just be an elaborate way to get back at Caucasian’s for their unfairly maligned portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. White people have done nothing to deserve this sort of unfair stereotyping and McDonald’s should be ashamed of themselves for showing such remarkable cultural insensitivity.

Mr. James (left) and Mr. Yunioshi (right). One’s an American classic, the other is just plain offensive.

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