Pete Hoekstra Makes a New Commercial…

Originally published in the Ann Abor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 12, 2012

You know what’s creepy? Looking up images of “blackface” on the Internet so I could draw this properly. Definitely cringe-inducing, which I guess is the point of the cartoon. Pete Hoekstra, a former congressman from West Michigan, is running against incumbent Debbie Stabenow for the US Senate this year. The Hoekstra campaign created and ran an ad during the Super Bowl. Here’s a link to the backstory, although I don’t think the actual commercial is officially available anymore. The commercial featured an Asian woman speaking in broken English.

One of the problems with using cartoonish stereotypes (beyond the, you know, hurtful offensiveness) is that they don’t hold up very well. Talking in exaggerated Chinese-English may seem a perfectly legitimate to make a point to some people (but certainly not all) folks Hoekstra’s age, but I can’t believe there wasn’t one person, perhaps a 20-something, who would have said, “I dunno, Pete. This seems pretty sketchy.” Eighty years ago white entertainers in blackface was expected and acceptable. Now it makes your stomach queasy. For most outside the Hoekstra campaign, that’s where the Asian stereotype is today.

Leave a Comment