Ruining a Perfectly Good Super Bowl
Updated Feb. 15
My friend Angry Asian Man reports that the Asian American actress in the now-infamous Hoekstra ad has apologized for her part in its production.
“It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.”
Updated Feb. 9
Was it all a strategic ploy for free publicity? (Do local-run Super Bowl ads cost anywhere in the ballpark of the $3.5 million per 30 seconds of national airtime?) Pete Hoekstra’s campaign has taken down the “Debbie SpendItNow” ad and its associated Web site.
Asked about the switch made four days after the original ad debuted, Hoekstra campaign spokesman Paul Ciaramitaro said in an email: “After hundreds of thousands of visitors to the micro-site saw our first campaign ad and the effects of Stabenow’s reckless spending, we wanted to direct traffic to Pete’s site where voters can see our second ad, which lays out Pete’s vision of fiscal discipline and economic growth.”
Super Bowl XLVI viewers in Michigan were subjected to this ad from former congressman Pete Hoekstra’s campaign for U.S. Senate:
Plenty of Asian American advocacy groups are decrying the blatant stereotypes — not the least of which is the focus on an Asian person speaking broken English — and the xenophobic tone of the commercial, which implies that Hoekstra will keep U.S. jobs from going to China:
- The Michigan chapter of APIA Vote immediately released a statement: “No elected official or candidate for office, regardless of political affiliation, should use stereotypical imagery or language.”
- The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice called for its prompt removal.
- The Japanese American Citizens League declared its disgust with the ad.
- In its statement, OCA cited an article expressing concern for a revival of “Asian bashing.”
People who bothered to go to the Web site shown in the ad were greeted by Chinese imagery and a longer explanation of the GOP politician’s talking points against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
A coalition of black ministers in Detroit led the home-state criticism:
The Rev. Charles Williams II of Detroit’s King Solomon Baptist church, where Malcolm X spoke in the 1960s, joined with several other Detroit pastors calling for Hoekstra to pull the ad.
“The Asian woman speaking in this video would be no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect.”
My friend Jeff Yang opines on the matter, pointing out the irony of Hoekstra’s spot airing in Detroit, which this year marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, who was Chinese American. His death — at the hands of autoworkers acting out because of fears about the popularity of cars imported from Japan — is widely considered to have been the catalyst for the Asian American civil rights movement.
Half a world away from Motor City, my colleague Keith Richburg in Beijing reports that people in China were angered and feeling a sense of deja vu.