What's wrong with this picture?

Asiaphilia laptop style
Feel the cultural appropriation around us

I swear I don’t go looking for these kinds of things, they find me all on their own. I went to VoodooPC’s website to check their tech support hours (in the hopes of me getting my laptop back this century…) and I saw the above image.

When you mouse over it you get this lovely text:

Feel the harmony?

Do I even have to do an image and textual analysis of this for everyone to understand what’s wrong with a North American company (recently bought out by HP, mind you) capitalizing on the fetishization of Asian culture in order to sell its product? Okay, then.

Honestly, if I didn’t have so many things to do already I’d be sorely tempted to make a satire of the above ad using Christianity. The laptop as Jesus, anyone?

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This entry was posted in Advertising, Companies Behaving Badly, Computers, Multiculturalism, Racism. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to What's wrong with this picture?

  1. Nick says:

    That is. . .unfathomably lame.

  2. Elayne Riggs says:

    Not sure about this one, Andrea. I can definitely see an ad campaign with people worshipping a laptop as though it were Jesus or Mohammed or whatever. The idea of worshipping machines as gods isn’t new or particularly controversial/blasphemous any more, at least to me.

  3. Jona says:

    That ad has actually made me feel quite uncomfortable. I really cant explain it, but while reading through that text accompanying the image, a numbing sensation came over my mind. Im not joking here, it really does feel quite uncomfortable. Its like someone has just asked me to explain how the universe is infinite. Gah! Make it stop!

    Perhaps for me its nothing to do with the point about Asian culture. Perhaps I was waiting for a point about laptops to be made.

  4. arielladrake says:

    I agree that it’s probably not particularly blasphemous or controversial to you or I, but I think it’s fairly obvious why, even in light of the fact that laptop as Jesus would be a more salient metaphor to more of the North American audience, they didn’t use the Christianity option. Which is at least acknowledging that there are people would consider it offensive enough to complain about it. What’s telling is that they don’t appear to consider the people who would find this alternative offensive an important audience to consider.

    Of course, now that I go to the website, it becomes clearer that the ad campaign for the product line is less about a worshiping the machine as a god and more about the capitalisation on fetishized Asian culture. As evidence, we have this ad (link to screenshot with the mouseover text showing) from the same line, now with added sexism! I don’t really have anything more to say about the fetishization that doesn’t dissolve into incoherent keymashing, but there’s some things I picked up between the two ads just taking a cursory look.

    Now, I’m reading them as ‘guy’ and ‘girl’ machines because, well, I think it’s pretty goddamn difficult with the two ads to NOT do so. What’s interesting is that the ‘guy’ machine is “Balance. A reason to achieve something more”, whereas the ‘girl’ machine is “Alluring. A Creative Soul striving to perfect everything I do”. The guy machine *is* a motivation, rather than a performing machine. The girl machine has an unknown motivation and is a ‘striving creative soul’. There’s something else in there, but I’m afraid it will have to wait until later, or someone more coherent than me, since it’s about 3:30am here at the moment, and I should probably be sleeping.

  5. Godless Heathen says:

    I’m trying to think of a way that would make the ad reference Christianity, and all I’m getting is the laptop crucified with people kneeling beneath it weeping. And maybe ad copy that reads “This laptop died for your previous computing sins.” I just don’t think it would be offensive enough unless you could get it to wear a crown of thorns and look long-suffering. And even then, the creepiness would be missing. Whatever happened to selling things based on features and capability, instead of bogus “spiritual” claptrap?

  6. Ragnell says:

    I hate to say it, but what most disturbs me is the equating a stupid laptop with the spirituality of the stereotype they’re capitalizing on.

    I think if they’d used Christianity to sell it, though, it would be an obvious parody but with the cultural appropriation it looks like they’re serious.

    (Capitalizing on religious steretypes and cultural appropriation. Who would have expected such a thing from Voodoo PC?)

  7. tekanji says:

    Nick: Just a heads up, it’s not written in the discussion rules (though now that I think about it, it should be…) but insults like “lame” go into the same pile as gendered slurs: using them here uncritically isn’t cool. “Lame” is ablist, meaning that it has a long history of being associated with the oppression of people who aren’t able-bodied. Since this blog is an anti-oppression blog, please refrain from using that word here in the future. Thanks!

    Elayne: You can see it, but do you?

    What I see here is Voodoo jumping on the bandwagon of Asiaphilia and caring not a whit about what messages its cultural appropriation of imagery and language associated with Asia sends to its prospective clients. There is already a huge problem in America with the way that the diversity between Asian cultures is eradicated and shoved into one big box of Other, and this ad campaign just reinforces that.

    ariella: Your reading about them being “guy” and “girl” machines is spot on. The pink machine has a “girl” design on it and while we can’t see the design on the orange one it’s pretty obviously coded male by the choice of colour and the man in the picture.

    As soon as my laptop is safe and sound in my house I’m going to write a scathing critique of their ad campaign.

  8. tekanji says:

    Ragnell: Yeah. In light of this ad campaign their choice of name is kind of hard to ignore.

  9. belledame222 says:

    Okay, it took me until the end of that comment to realize: oh, the guy -isn’t- actually banging his head against the table because his stupid computer froze up again.

    i may be the wrong target audience here

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