Friday, March 09, 2012

Even The Crazy-Racist Political Ads Are Better In Europe

DISCLAIMER: I have a feeling this video is probably also cropping up as a "toldja The EU was The Antichrist!" on freakjob right-wing conspiracy-nut sites. Obviously, that's not where I hang my hat; I just thought it was kinda funny/horrifying.

Courtesy Gail Simone's Twitter and the blog "Country Boy Life" I find this incredibly bizzare advertisement (which has apparently now been pulled from circulation) which was supposed to be part of a campaign promote enlarging/strengthening The European Union or "EU." It's a "Kill Bill" riff, in which a (white) woman in yellow/black jumpsuit is attacked in a warehouse by three enemies, whom she defeats by dividing herself into a crowd of clones, surrounding the attackers and ultimately causing them to stand-down and vanish.

The enemies? An Asian kung-fu fighter intro'd with a gong sound, a turban-wearing Middle Easterner with a scimitar (and levitation powers!) and a dreadlock'd black man doing Capoiera. The obvious symbolism is, I'm sure, a complete accident.



Uh... yeah. Wow. So... nice to know The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on insane race-baiting political ads, I guess. Yikes.

27 comments:

dranbo said...

You know, racial insensitivity aside, I would watch the shit out of this if it were a movie

Anonymous said...

Knowing nothing what the group is about, what I got from that video is if they all sit down and talk peacefully they would become stronger as a whole.... thought that could just be my optimist coming through

JiBĂ© said...

Yeah, I guess the ending suggests that, if the EU is united, they will be strong enough to be respected and invited to the table, instead of being bullied. Which is suppose is a nice idea, but it doesn't excuse the racist stereotypes.

Would the thing have been better if the woman had been wearing a beret and carrying a baguette, and if each of her clones took on the characteristics of other european stereotypes ?

I'm French, btw, and I feel kind of offended by this.

Mads said...

Yup. They used an african to repressent africa, the middle east to repressent the middle east, and an asian to repressent asia.

What's the racist massage I'm not getting, again? Or the negative reinforcement or viscious circle this supposedly perpetuates?

What's the harm exactly?

JB DeVries said...

Mads, you're not a connoisseur of European politics, are you?

biomechanical923 said...

The EU is just an economic/trade union of countries, similar to NATO. The only message here is an encouragement that European countries work together by trading with eachother. Europe is trying to rebuild its economic strength instead of giving it away to other regions.
I really don't think these characters are racist, they're anthropomorphized representations of other world regions.
getting offended by that would be like getting offended by people using Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty as anthropomorphized representations of America.

JB DeVries said...

"The EU is just an economic/trade union of countries, similar to NATO"

There are two problems here. Taking them out of order, NATO is a collective defense organisation specifically conceived to counter what would become the Warsaw Pact states. Presumably you meant NAFTA? Because that would be somewhat closer to reality.

However, that's not what the EU is either. At least since Lisbon came into effect in 2009, the EU has aspects of a tighter economic union than NAFTA (common currency, single market, single central bank), a common immigration area, an international legislature/judicial system with transnational laws (in contrast to international laws formed strictly by treaty), and a limited executive.

JB DeVries said...

What the hell, I'm supposed to be studying, I might as well explain why, in a European context, this ad is problematic.

The European right wing doesn't have a whole lot in common with the right wing in the US, but one thing they share is a mistrust of immigrants. This has been true literally for centuries but has become more pronounced in recent years for two reasons: shrinking population and somewhat odd immigration policies.

Shrinking population [of European stock] due to low birth rates is endemic, especially in northern and western Europe. Immigrant populations, particularly from former colonies in Africa and South Asia but also from eastern Europe and the Middle East, are growing as a percentage of the total population across the EU.

This is exacerbated by a theoretically common immigration policy that isn't nearly as common in practice across EU states. The net effect is that if a foreigner gets access to an EU passport, they automatically enjoy a right to work across the entire EU -- and securing an EU passport is much easier in some countries than others.

These dynamics come together to form a certain amount of conservative race-baiting across western Europe and Scandinavia. In France, the National Front plays against a racist undertone that raises hell for things like, for instance, sale of halal meat to unsuspecting Christian consumers. In Scandinavia, we saw a rather disturbing example of just how passionate the far right can get about the issue of more immigrants in Europe when Anders Brevik decided to shoot up a bunch of kids attending a political camp.

So, the ad. Watch it again. Yes, the intended message is European enlargement, but how else could it be seen in this context? It's not much of a leap to see it advocating more white people and eliminating the immigrants. A more extreme reading would also focus on gender, but let's just leave that. Yes, it's politically tone-deaf when there exists a faction that really, really hates the idea of having all those foreigners around.

That's why it's problematic.

Anonymous said...

It's not clear enough from the ad itself to know if it's anti-immigrant or referring to peace-talks being a capable thing to do instead of fighting.

Steven said...

@JB DeVries

The shrinking white european birth rate is worse in eastern and southern europe than in northern and western europe.

check out demographics of Italy, Ukraine, Spain and Lithuania.

Nixou said...

The EU is just an economic/trade union of countries, similar to NATO

Nato and trade unions do not have a court of justice, an elected parliament, and a de facto executive branch.

***

Shrinking population [of European stock] due to low birth rates is endemic, especially in northern and western Europe. Immigrant populations, particularly from former colonies in Africa and South Asia but also from eastern Europe and the Middle East, are growing as a percentage of the total population across the EU

Fuck off.
No, seriously, fuck off: the "Dark Skinned immigrant are outbreeding us" is a lie (as soon as immigrants discover the virtue of birth control, they go through an accelerated demographic transition), born from upper-class fears of being overhrown by the underclass ("Oh no, the plebs are outbreeding us, soon they will overthrow our beloved inbreed aristocratic system and our surviving descendant will have to work to live and won't be allowed to rape the maid anymore, how horrific").

Besides, there's not even an "European stock" anymore: the people who could have claimed to be of "european stocks" were exterminated by middle-eastern cattlemen 9.000 years ago
http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,723310,00.html
And even if that did not suffice, the newcomers interbreed with every following migration wave, including the current one: "European stock" does not exist, except as a fiction meant to justify the far-right incestuous pseudo-ideology.

***

In Scandinavia, we saw a rather disturbing example of just how passionate the far right can get about the issue of more immigrants in Europe when Anders Brevik decided to shoot up a bunch of kids attending a political camp

I suppose that one may call Breivik's genocidal power-fantasies which most far-right activists hide "passionate", you know, like a child rapist is "passionate" about its victims.

Anonymous said...

Nixou/
How about actually reading a post before getting riled up? Just a thought.

Jojjo

Cypher DS said...

@It's not clear enough from the ad itself to know if it's anti-immigrant or referring to peace-talks being a capable thing to do instead of fighting.

Where is the talking, though? At the end of the video the foreigners disappear. There's no dialogue, no handshakes, no gestures of acceptance - the "other" is pacified (the swordsman sheaths his weapon) and the trio vanishes. Rather than opening a dialogue with the foreign other, the white/European supremacy simply quells their rabble-rousing and casts them out of existence.

Anonymous said...

To be honest this was an EU ad, and it was redacted more or less a few days after it was sent out, this is more likely a failure of contracting out the work (The EU does not have an advertisement division) whose work was then 'lost' in the Bureaucratic system. This stuff happens its not perfect. It is very odd though.

Jake said...

As an American Eurosceptic (someone against EU enlargment), I think the more pressing issue will always be that fact that it's one of the most undemocratic organizations in the world. The unelected executive makes and passes all the legislation, and the elected MEPs (member of the european parliment) can only amend legislation, they can't even propose legislation. No, I don't think it is the antichrist, but that doesn't mean they are the good guys either.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why somebody in favor of unionized labor would be opposed to unionized trade....

Avistew said...

Ok, they're stereotyping the regions. But the message I got was "even if other countries want to fight, if we unite and use diplomacy, we can discuss things and the aggressivity will vanish"

Or, "let's negociate, not fight".

Yes, they use stereotypes to make it clear they're talking about East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But these are regions that are close to Europe and therefore deal with Europe a lot. It makes sense that it's not, say, the US or Australia, because they're already allies.

I dunno, I guess stereotypes aren't great, but they're not used to say the people are in any way inferior, here, they're used to express who's who without any dialogue being needed (allowing for the same commercial to be used in various countries without needing to be re-shot).

Rob said...

Saw it in the news here, it was supposed to symbolise the strong -economical- opponents. Strong China, strong Brazil and, strong mid-east I guess.

ImadK said...

@Rob

Yeah, 2 of the 3 guys seem to be China and Brazil, and I would guess that the mid-east guy was supposed to represent Turkey. But still, this ad was pretty ambiguous to me.

From my perspective, this message would be anathema for far-right-wingers. Bringing Turkey back up, This ad, at the very end, apparently take enlargement to include this country as well, which right wingers in the EU have always been opposed to since the issue has been brought up.

What can be made clear is that this ad is sending a message for more unity, that everyone can get clear. But any other message this ad wanted to convey, it was done poorly.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I fail to be offended by someone noticing that certain countries have lots of Asian-looking people, certain countries have lots of Arab-looking people, and others still have lots of black people. (or for that matter, that the US has lots of fat people who wear t-shirts and sandals). I saw no judgement of character in this ad, only the hypothesis that the EU's current political unrest might be better solved by coming together than it would by fighting.

I wish people would get over their skin own color, particularly the hypersensitivity over how others notice it. Discrimination is not the same as prejudice. No one complains about sexual discrimination when you're asking someone out on a date. Ridiculous. Get over it already, Humanity.

James said...

Sam Seder admits that he, and other die-hard Obama supporters (like Bob) are hypocrites, giving the president a free pass for civil liberties violations and military actions they'd criticize a republican president for:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKe56ULRcwg&list=UU-3jIAlnQmbbVMV6gR7K8aQ&feature=plcp

Jim said...

James, actually there are a lot of us Obama supporter who thing that the President has been pretty crap on Military actions and civil liberties violations. The fact that Gitmo is still open and that the administration now believes "due process" is different than "judicial process" frankly infuriates me.

But does that mean I or other liberals are going to vote for a Republican? HELL no. Obama is far from ideal, but all the Republican candidates are either crazy or Mitt Romney. I would fight tooth and nail against any of them.

By the way, Bob self identifies more Libertarian. So, totally different thing. Thanks for your comment, though. Really informative.

James said...

Jim, Bob used to be a libertarian. Now he's a left-wing Limbaugh. (Admit it Bob, you are.)

And no, I don't want a Republican idiot like Romney or Santorum to win. I want someone like Gary Johnson, a sane person who actually cares about the rights of the people. Don't compromise your principles, look outside the two mainstream parties. That's the only way we'll make progress in this country.

Nixou said...

How about actually reading a post before getting riled up? Just a thought.


How but I red the post: pseudo-intellectuals faking erudition and giving credence to fiction annoy me to no end. And among other things, "European stock" and stories of some imminent "demographic overthrow" are fictions. Sure, lot of people believe these fictions (or claim to believe: racism in Europe is less motivated by fear than by the desire to keep immigrants as a disenfranchised underclass doing most of the heavy lifting for next to nothing in return -playcating the scared biggot is in most case just a way to disguise one's own depravity-), but a high number of follower does not make these fictions any less demonstrably false.

***

I think the more pressing issue will always be that fact that it's one of the most undemocratic organizations in the world

Ok, that's not even a fiction: that's a bald faced lie: The commission is not an "unelected executive": it's elected by the European Council, itself composed of the elected heads of state and government of the Union (Sarkozy, Merkel, Mario Monti, David Cameron, etc...), and then has to be aknowledged by a vote of the European Parliament, which has a de facto impechment power over it -the Parliament literally fired the Santer commission the 15 march 1999 after a corruption scandal- and can even veto the swearing-in of the commission: in 2004 the Parliament blocked the Barroso commision and forced Barroso to get rid of the reactionary and homophobic commissioner hopeful Rocco Buttiglione. In the end the head of the European executive branch is no less democratically legitimate than a Speaker of the House in the US.

The unelected executive makes and passes all the legislation, and the elected MEPs (member of the european parliment) can only amend legislation, they can't even propose legislation

First, the Parliament is not limited to amending legislation: it can also reject it, as can the Concil of the Ministers (the unofficial pet name of the Council because it is composed of the ministers of the member states governments).

Second, the Parliament has the power to propose legislation: the difference between the EU and most parliamentary nation-states is that in the second case, the parliament has a formal right of initiative which is mostly useless because any law proposed without support of the executive will fail, while in the first case, the European Parliament can only send "request" to the Commission, but since the Parliament has the power to fire the whole Commission, you can bet both your arms that when the Parliament "request" something, the Commission listen.

The "EU is an undemocratic organization" is in fact a lie propagated by both the european far-right and far-left, who hate the EU specifically because it's existence makes the establishment of a dictatorship in any of its member states virtually impossible (which, by the way, is the whole point of the European Union)

***

Jim, Bob used to be a libertarian. Now he's a left-wing Limbaugh

Speaking of Europe, most european libertarians have been part of the Left since they realized that most right-wing parties were corporation of upper-class men more interested in preserving their class-interest than in liberty (better a nanny-state than the reign of blue-blooded bullies would make a good motto for european libertarians).

As for Bob, I'll believe he is in any way comparable to Limbaugh the day he's found trying to smuggle viagra in a country famous for its child prostitution industry, thank you very much.

Mads said...

@JB DeVries
"
Mads, you're not a connoisseur of European politics, are you?
"
Well I live here. If you mean to ask if I haven't a clue about the subject, I think that's wrong. I'm no expert, of course, but I follow it more closely than anyone I know...and I know a lot of danish people.
It's the same thing with that chinese ad in the US that was oh so racist, except the tone of that advertisement, and the intention, was completely different...and I still had trouble seeing the racist aspects, though I did end up recognizing that it was racist, and said as much, IIRC.
Your point - that it's tone-deaf - does make sense. If you fundamentally interpret it within the context of european immigration, yes, I can see why that's actually racist. Thanks for the explanation.
It's so rare that I even consider european-local issues these days, or read into cultural ongoings from a europe-centric perspective. So in that regard, your snap judgement was right on.
But lets be clear here: This reading is not obvious without considering the right-win rabblerousing that happens in Europe these days, and even then, said rabble-rousing happens only among a strictly limited 20-30% of the population. So I don't think the ad is fundamentally racist, or that the metaphors i applies are inherently racist - I think it's merely racist by incidence.

JB DeVries said...

"So I don't think the ad is fundamentally racist, or that the metaphors i applies are inherently racist - I think it's merely racist by incidence."

I'd agree with that. It's unfortunate though. One does have to consider context on these things.

"Fuck off.
No, seriously, fuck off: the "Dark Skinned immigrant are outbreeding us" is a lie (as soon as immigrants discover the virtue of birth control, they go through an accelerated demographic transition), born from upper-class fears of being overhrown by the underclass ("Oh no, the plebs are outbreeding us, soon they will overthrow our beloved inbreed aristocratic system and our surviving descendant will have to work to live and won't be allowed to rape the maid anymore, how horrific")."

Did you somehow think I was advocating the position you describe? Because if so, you most certainly didn't read what I wrote; I suggest going back over it. Reality per se doesn't have anything to do with this. The whole point is that the ad can plausibly be interpreted in a rather vicious way by vicious people, and feeding those vicious people is a bad thing.

Also, is "vicious" better than "passionate" in your eyes? Because I'm ok with that.

Atomic Skull said...

Levitating Middle Eastern Guy looks like the best new Street Fighter character in years.

Ryu vs Hamid