Mr. James : McDonald’s Japan has a gaijin clown
The white guy in the photo above is Mr. James, the mascot for 4 new burgers of McDonald’s “Nippon All-Stars” series. Residents of Japan who have been riding JR trains or passing by McDonald’s restaurants have probably already seen his face on advertisements. In his TV commercials, Mr. James speaks annoying foreigner Japanese (not unlike the wacky foreigner who spoke NIPPONGO in a recent Sony Commercial). Print advertisements convey his goofy gaijin Japanese by rendering everything he says in katakana.
Mr. James has an official blog chronicling his love for Japan and McDonalds. Its blog posts, no doubt written by a Japanese employee of McDonald’s Japan’s marketing department, put everything in a mix of katakana and hiragana. One blog post contains a special video of Mr. James acting like a moron while reading aloud from a fake Japanese phrasebook [actually an altered version of the book Dirty Japanese].
Judging from this page on his blog, McDonald’s Japan plans to send Mr. James to franchises across the country, allowing him to make lots of blog posts about the places he goes and the people he meets. As of today, he’s only visited Shibuya, but that map should fill up as the campaign gets underway. We can only guess what passing foreigners thought about Mr. James as he stood around handing out fans and speaking wacky broken Japanese.
Not surprisingly, Arudou Debito and the readers of his blog are outraged by the existence of Mr. James. Debito believes that the character reinforces negative stereotypes about foreigners and has compared the actor who plays Mr. James to Stepin Fetchit, a black American who made a became a millionaire in the early 20th century by playing dumb negro characters in Hollywood films. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the dude certainly is acting like the “jackass” Debito believes him to be.
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