Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Malaysian bank ad offends with goofy Filipina maid stereotype

Oddly, South China Post is calling this an example of "blackface":

Nonetheless, it is pretty racist. In a comedy bit that would be at home in the west in the 1960s, the unnamed Chinese actor plays both himself and his bumbling Filipina maid. It's an ad promoting advertisement "domestic helper insurance" from Malaysia’s Hong Leong Bank.

The ad, which ran in Hong Kong, was harshly criticized by advocates for migrant domestic workers:
“You are making comedy out of someone, out of a community,” said Eni Lestari, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body. “For [Hongkongers] it’s funny, but what they don’t realise is what’s funny is actually racist.”
The bank, in turn, issued the standard non-apology:
“We regret that our recent advertisement … resulted in comments about the advertisement being racist,” said spokeswoman Norlina Yunus. “At no time did Hong Leong … intend to offend any person or be to any extent discriminatory on grounds of race, sex or otherwise.” 
No, maybe they didn't "intend" to, but insensitivity is not always an intentional offence. That said, it wouldn't hurt to say, "We are sorry for being so insensitive to the dignity of Filipinos, as well as to domestic workers of any ethnicity. We are taking steps to ensure that all of our advertising is more carefully reviewed against our corporate values, and a gesture we are contributing X to a fund to help make this right."

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