Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fukudome T-Shirt: Funny or Offensive?

Kosuke Fukudome has been on fire ever since his arrival in the United States from the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese league. He's hit .317, stolen 3 bases, and had 9 runs-batted-in in only 17 games. Think Suzuki Ichiro but with more power... quick, flexible and hits for power.

So it's not a surprise that Chicago Cubs fans are crazy about their latest important from Japan. But with all the fanaticism of Cubs fans comes the ugly side of Wrigley Field as well; an attempt at player endearment ends up offending lots of people.

The shirt has the classic Cubs picture but they've altered it to have slanted eyes, glasses and replaced the popular "Holy Cow" of the Cubs announcer Harry Caray, with "Horry Kow!"
If you don't really get it... try saying "derivery" out loud or "herroh". Replacing 'l's with 'r's is an easy way to mimic an Asian accent.

Kosuke himself, the butt of this t-shirt joke, certainly doesn't find it funny... when shown the t-shirt, Kosuke says

''I don't know what the creator of the shirt meant this to be, but they should make it right . . . Maybe the creator created it because he thought it was funny, or maybe he made it to condescend the race. I don't know.'

Regardless, it's not funny. The image feeds not only ugly, arrogant and ignorant Japanese stereotypes, but also the stereotype of the obnoxious, profane, drunken, booing, garbage-throwing Cubs fan."

Seeing this story reminded me of a very similar controversy (but to be fair, these kinds of cultural comics happen all the time in every media medium and with every culture) that clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch had a few years back.

Some topics will always be off-limits for t-shirt jokes, or even jokes in general; homo-sexuality, abortion etc... but are what about these?

As strongly as I feel about people retaining a strong sense of their cultural past in America, I feel just as strongly that people that come here from other countries should be regarded as evenly as other Americans and shouldn't be treated any differently. So should people like me be really offended at these t-shirts? After all, according to my own feelings, we're all Americans first and fore-most, so they should all be considered as just another joke...

What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Fernando Alejandro said...

Some people are just that ignorant.