A Super Bowl with the lights on and the Asian American stereotypes in those commercials

February 4, 2013 11:26 AM

Immigration advocate and AALDEF 2013 Justice in Action award honoree Jose Antonio Vargas tweeted from the Super Bowl: "Can't find an electrical socket to charge iPhone here at Superdome! More tweet soon."

I tweeted back: "No wait, you'll blow a fuse!"

It was that kind of game.

Nothing quite worked the way it was supposed to.

Although as one wag tweeted, would the lights have gone out at the Chinese Super Bowl?

No doubt a fair number of Asian Americans rooting for the Ravens are happy right now. But with San Francisco being the most Asian city on the mainland, and with three of five Pacific Islanders in the Super Bowl on the 49ers, it was hard not to root for San Francisco. (Besides, I'm a native son and live near Kaepernick's parents. I like the Bromo Seltzer Building in Baltimore, but the team?)

The 49ers were supposed to win the game, but only won the second half 25-13. (How's that for positive spin? They were half-super.)

For most of the night, it seemed that Beyonce (who showed up in a wardrobe malfunction-proof teddy that worked just fine) would wind up the big winner, as the 49ers lip-synched through three quarters.

But then came that 34-minute delay due to a power failure. (You mean a 49er power failure wasn't enough, now the Superdome had to be less than super? Yes, but it was over in the time you could answer, "How many network executives does it take to change a few hundred lightbulbs?") And though what usually is spawned by a power failure is a baby boom nine months later, this power failure birthed an immediate explosion of energy from the 49ers, who nearly made it all the way back from the dead. 

A score of 28-6 certainly made us all more interested in whatever buffet was before us, and not the football game. But then the 49ers began to actually play, outgaining and outscoring the Ravens, topping it off with a Kaepernick score to bring the 49ers to a 31-29 deficit. The Ravens responded with a field goal, making it 34-29. Then, with the ball on the Baltimore 5-yard line, the 49er juggernaut hit a wall--the Ravens defense. Four plays, goal to go, and nothing. No runs, all passes. Lots of penalties. Oh, those weren't penalties? Well then, the pistol was shot. The 49ers empty.

Oh, what could have been? From 34-29, if they make it to the endzone, the Niners go up 36-34. Flacco and the Ravens still had a lot of time to drive for a game-winning FG or a TD. Or maybe the 49er defense finally prevails. We won't know that ending. We're stuck with the one we've got.

A Super Bowl win you cherish and commemorate. A Super Bowl loss merely burns eternally.

You do learn from it, as a team or as a fan. And you go on from there, perhaps to achieve or to witness greatness again.

But until that happens, you can never quite turn off the lights on such a super loss, ever.
Of course, if you are like my daughter who sees #superbowl and wonders what kind of ornithological phenomenon this "superb owl" is, then you were probably more interested in the commercials.

Besides the five huge Asian Pacific Islander linemen on the field, this is where we did show up a number of times.

There was the clean-cut Asian American playing the Best Buy blue shirt geek guy helping Amy Poehler. Usually our sexual orientation is at play when we are so featured, and sure enough, it comes up here as we play the smiling deferential servant. It's a gentle tease over a dongle.

Yes, Amy, Asian American guys know a thing or two about dongles. Can I show you mine?

Given the geeky stereotype, you'd have thought the nerd kissing the Israeli supermodel on the GoDaddy ad would have been Asian American. It wasn't. I protest!

There were two other Asian Americans I noticed on the ad side of the ball.

There was the Asian American buddy in the controversial Volkswagon spot, where the white people get down with the ganja talk, mon.

Racist? It would have been marginally funny if real dreadlocked Jamaicans showed up in the boardroom or workplace. Instead, having whites mock the accent was just offensive. Shouldn't that be obvious by now?

The Asian American character, though portrayed as some techy hipster, was still just a sidekick.

What's it take to be the main man?

A horse dance?

Leave it to the nutty PSY to go Gangnam-style, fronting for pistachios, "Crack-crack-crack-crack-crack." It's not even a year from the height of his horsiness, and already, he's the inventor of the Asian Macarena.

Ads reflect our image in pop culture. So where are we? Like this year's game, a little less than super.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, @emilamok.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. Emil, I think you doth protest too much over the Best Buy commercial. The blue shirt's character was the straight man to Amy Poehler's typical wackiness. Best Buy didn't strain to include or avoid any overt "Asianness" about the guy. After all, Amy does, toward the end, ask him to read Fifty Shades of Grey to her. Also, did you see Red Stripe's "response" to the VW commercial on YouTube? Featuring Jamaicans dressed as NFL refs reviewing the "offending" VW ad under the hood and declaring it "not offensive, mon!" Sure, it would've worked better had Red Stripe aired back to back with VW instead of just posting their response to YouTube. If there's anything that should have been truly offensive to you as a Niners fan, it was that Tide commercial.
Posted by: Reader | Feb 4, 2013 3:24 PM

Leave a comment

required, but will not be published


Remembering AALDEF board member Vivian Cheng-Khanna,1955-2017


2017 AALDEF exit poll: 2,538 Asian American voters polled in 4 states: VA, NJ, NY, MA


Nov. 15-16: AALDEF calls on Asian Americans to mobilize in DC for a clean DREAM Act


AALDEF to conduct exit poll & monitor poll sites in NJ, VA, NYC, & Boston on Election Day


Feb. 15, 2018: AALDEF lunar new year gala honoring Preet Bharara, Linda Greenhouse, and Chan Lee


Oct. 24: AALDEF "M. Butterfly" theater party and talkback with playwright David Henry Hwang


Oct. 1: DACA renewal clinic at Flushing Library


AALDEF denounces ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; new DACA fact sheet


Federal appeals court upholds ruling in AALDEF case that Texas election law violates Voting Rights Act


AALDEF denounces introduction of RAISE Act to restrict legal imigration


AALDEF exit poll presentations in Miami, Las Vegas, Atlanta & San Diego


AALDEF statement on the president's voter fraud commission


Screening of new PBS film "Chinese Exclusion Act" and Q&A with Ric Burns and Li-shin Yu on May 23


New AALDEF report: The Asian American Vote in 2016


AALDEF joins amicus brief in State of Hawaii's challenge to revised Trump travel ban


AALDEF condemns Trump Administration's revamped anti-immigrant travel ban


AALDEF joins Korematsu Center amicus brief in challenge to Trump travel ban in Brooklyn federal court