Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Playing The Race Card On Play Station

The NAACP and CA Assemblyman Leland Yee went overseas to go overboard, decrying this Sony billboard for its new white Play Station unit in Holland racist. (If you can't see the image clearly, that's a black woman being grabbed in the face by the seemingly hostile white woman.)

The NAACP said it recalled minstrel shows and Yee said in a press release:
Whether in the US or abroad, using differences in skin color to articulate the fact that your video game console now comes in white can be interpreted as insensitive at best and racist at worst.
Why? Any offence is in the photo, which is very poorly conceptualized, not in the fact that black people are black and white people are white. I think we're all mature enough to handle the color difference.

Sony apologized for the wrong reasons: the subject matter. They should have replaced the billboard with another with the image of a black woman and white woman happily kumbayahing about the new Play Station, and invited the NAACP and Yee to attack that.

For the record, Japan as an isolated country has a history of being notoriously "racist" in their advertising imagery. (I put quotes around it because I'm still not sure whether it's deliberate or clueless.) When I was growing up there in the late 50s and 60s I remember seeing representations of blacks in logos that made Aunt Jemima look like Angela Davis. And today, their sensitivity remains a bit ... off kilter (as this package art from shows.).

Here again, racial grandstanding did what it usually does: backfire. Sony's poor photo selection will yield good results for the company as gamers everywhere will think Yee and the NAACP are over-reacting zealots and opportunists, and thanks to heavy blog coverage, they'll know all about the new white Sonys.

Maybe Sony will honor Mr. Yee with a new yellow Play Station, suitably launched.