Dunkin’ Donuts Blackface?

Tom 
Bizarre, yes. Racist? It’s THAILAND. American racialists need to stop projecting their neuroses on other cultures. I love this: “The CEO for Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand dismissed the criticism as ‘paranoid American thinking.'”


A leading human rights group has called on Dunkin’ Donuts to withdraw a “bizarre and racist” advertisement for chocolate doughnuts in Thailand that shows a smiling woman with bright pink lips in…
[source]
Debbie  An American company should know better.
Tom  It’s an American company, but I don’t know if the ad was an American idea. But still – what’s the issue?
Debbie  Bad idea to argue this one.

Tom  How so? I don’t think there are racial messages in this ad, but even if there were, what are they? Our doughnuts are good?

Debbie  You’re looking worse.
Tom  To whom? What’s the issue with the ad? I don’t see a racial component, and I very much doubt Thai people do either.
Clifton  So, I found this: “In many countries across south-east Asia, fairer skin is equated with higher class as it suggests a life not spent toiling in rice paddies under the sun. The Thai language is peppered with expressions that denigrate dark skin, such as the insult dam mhuen e-ga — ‘black like a crow’.”
[source]

If this Guardian article’s info is accurate, then the Dunkin’ Donuts ad could actually be seen as anti-racist. The slogan on the ad “Break every rule of deliciousness” may be encouraging readers to challenge the idea that whiteness is the ideal. In a country where skin-lightening is commonplace, this person is “breaking every rule” by choosing to have darker skin. And, it seems clear to me, she’s photographed in a way that accentuates her beauty.

Overall, it’s kind of a sad reminder that there are people in parts of the rest of the world that think even more backwardly than many Americans where race is concerned.

It’s also bizarre to me that I can’t find anybody else on the web who has attempted to make the argument I just made, even the people who made the ad! Everybody just says that it’s “bizarre” and the Fox article says it’s common for Thai ads to include racial elements.

Tom  But even given that, what would the message of the ad be? Buy our inferior black people chocolate doughnuts? Where they lose me is the “charcoal” bit – that association is not appetizing. Who wants a carbon doughnut?
Clifton  I could see it as an attempt to create a parallel between two subjective issues: flavor and appearance. Charcoal itself is probably not associated with good flavor in Thailand (or anywhere else) and, if we believe The Guardian and AP articles, it’s common in Thailand to denigrate darker skin tones. Thus, two “rules” are being broken in the ad.

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