Here is the story of how I discovered the terrible website.
I’ve been trying not to eat so much junk food or eat out at restaurants as much. So, I decided that a fun project would be recording everything that I eat. I typically eat lean pockets for lunch at work because they are cheap and I cannot afford to spend an average on ten dollars a day on meals acquired in an expensive shopping mall. Anyway, I was looking online for the nutrional contents of hot pockets and what do I stumble upon…
The hot pocket dojo.
No, I am SERIOUS. The official website for Hot Pockets is http://www.hotpocketsdojo.com.
There is a old “Asian” man, dressed in Chinese clothes, with fortune cookies laid out nearby. There is a disco ball over his head. He asks you “Why you so stupid?!” in broken English if you click on some parts of the site. I have provided screenshots for proof (and for your viewing pleasure/displeasure.)
Let's Disco at the Dojo
Here we go again.
As an Asian-American and as a scholar of Japanese studies, the lame amalgamation of these “Orientalist” stereotypes is readily apparent. Although I think it is humorous in kind of a mildly offensive way.
Dear Hot Pockets,
Did you know that dojo is a Japanese word? Generally speaking, a dojo is a place where people study martial arts. How do the fortune cookies and Chinese clothes the crazy old man is wearing make sense in that context? Ya’ll are freaking crazy!
But I digress. It is easy to see that they are doing some kind of parody of the Karate Kid with the old man being a “master” (who will “answer questions” for you but most likely just tell you that you are ugly – no seriously he says that).
This site also offers online games you can play with the master!/end fake enthusiasm.
I played a game of shells – my Mandarin is not so good, but the “shells” appear to have the traditional (not simplified) Chinese character for food – 飯.
Don't you love the Hanzi/Kanji styled font?
My guess is that they were trying to do a kung fu type of Chinese master and got confused. This is wrong in so many ways, and unfortunately, I don’t have time to thoroughly examine and critique each inane act of stereotypification that exists on that website.
However, I can’t say that Asians themselves, do not at times, help to perpetuate the stereotype that the vastly different countries and cultures of Asia are interchangable and/or identical.
For example, many of the local Japanese restaurants in the Metro Detroit area are run by Koreans, but a lot of people are under the impression that the restaurants are run by Japanese. A co-worker of my once told me about this great little sushi place that he swore was Japanese owned, because they had spoken to him in Japanese, but when I walked in the door there was a huge stack of Korean newspapers and ads in the vestibule. The waitstaff spoke… in Korean. The music… was in Korean. They served Korean food alongside Japanese food. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with people opening Japanese restaurants when they are not Japanese. I think that they may think that it is in their best interest to pretend to be Japanese to give their restaurant some kind of sense of authenticity to the unsuspecting locals, but really… how is that helping anyone? If the food is good, it’s good! You don’t gotta pretend.