Sunday, May 17, 2009

uncle ben's...instant racism

my entire life i've had a visceral, seething reaction to uncle ben's instant rice. maybe it's my asian ideals, but i just don't think rice should come in a box or be made in the microwave.
my loathing has an entirely new dimension now that i've discovered uncle ben's lightweight racist advertising campaigns. check out this montage of ethnic stereotypes appealing to the lazy cultural appropriator.
the links won't play directly on LWR, but they're short and well worth it.

let's see, we've got chinese uncle ben's...indian uncle ben's...and mexican uncle ben's...
"just the thing for when you fancy a mexican for dinner."
somehow i don't think that by "invite the world to dinner" they are actually suggesting this british family should cook dinner for a mexican.


  1. I just got back from Scandinavia and there's a swedish chocolate bar with crushed up corn snacks (like bugles) in it called chocolate amigo. While I didn't try this variety myself I discovered this commercial for it upon my return to the states:

    This one's funny, it might be the prequel:

  2. Just wrote a post about growing up as a little white girl on Uncle Ben's instant rice. I'm scarred for life...

  3. I've had the same thoughts on this company for years. I'm Chinese and I find it offensive everytime I see the 'chinese' unkle ben ad (it's the only one that has been consistently shown for number of years in the UK). I think the Chinese and mexican advert are particularly ridiculous, portraying completely base ideas of what asian or mexican/latino people are like. Basically making fun of them to sell disgusting rice that comes in a packet.

    Of course, because we are such a small minority, if we complained it wouldn't be enough for them to pull the ad.

    Anyway, the idea of an old black man selling or cooking rice, just makes me think of slavery, black servants and the racist south of america. It's unbelievable in this 'enlightened' age that this company logo has not been banned. It's pretty disgusting.

  4. smillas_kid here: I forgot to add a comment a friend made. She's white english, the nicest person you could meet and would be horrified to think she might have said something offensive.

    We were talking about breakfast, an asian friend said she doesn't eat bread, and the english friend said, 'oh, of course, you don't have those things, you eat other stuff'. The assumption that all asians either don't eat bread or just eat rice/noodles was innocently made. But, it just goes to show how culture, media and the lack of exposure to people who aren't like you, can shape a skewed idea of a whole people/culture.

    Oh, btw I eat lots of bread and so do all my family, including those back in hong kong! (probably brought over by the english colonists!).

    Turn this around, that same asian friend was also very ignorant, particularly about food. Her family never let her have school dinners, so she has never eaten any food except chinese at home! I used to love school dinners, and it's one of the things that bonded me with my friends at school and also my whole generation...the best homemade biscuits I have ever eaten!

    She has a few phobias about foods, not just 'western' foods but anything not chinese or cooked. We made a break through when she tried raw slamon sushi. Anyway, I think shes a bit of an exception, I don't know anyone who didn't have other foods other than at home. I can't imagine going through life without enjoying different foods!