STEREOTYPICAL AD ESSAY ANALYSIS
Three ads for a restaurant called China Times target Chinese people by using yellowface. They each
contain a man of neither East Asian nor Chinese descent whose eyes have been photoshopped to look
exaggeratedly small and slanted, with the tagline “Brings Out the Chinese in Anyone” to promote the
idea that anyone who eats there will become and therefore look ‘Chinese.’
The ads try to give off an air of diversity by using men of different races (specifically South Asian,
African, and Middle Eastern) but they lose their credibility by being lazily and superficially stereotypical.
They focus on alienating and poking fun at the altered sizes of what the creators think every Chinese
person’s eyes should look like, rather than the restaurant’s food or various other elements of Chinese
culture to represent Chinese people.
Although it is true that smaller sized eyes due to thicker eyelid folds, are more commonly found in people
of East Asian descent, however, it would be inaccurate to associate that specific physical trait with all of
them, since a diverse range of eye sizes exists too. In conjunction with the tagline, the ad unnecessarily
dramatizes the size of the mens’ eyes. Stating that anyone can become Chinese just by emulating the
look of very small eyes heavily suggests yellowface, Orientalism, and mockery towards the Chinese.
Because it is obviously untrue that anyone can become another race just by imitating said race’s
perceived facial characteristics, the tagline is meant to be taken in a sarcastic and humorous tone,
furthering the idea that Chinese people are to be othered and laughed at for this racist stereotype. It
would almost be the real life equivalent of someone pulling their hands up to their eyelids to slant them
and say that they look Chinese.
The ads are considered to stereotype instead of type because they try to limit other people’s
perceptions of what Chinese people are beyond their assumed ethnic features. They fix on the idea that
extremely slanted eyes are the sole defining physical trait they have, while attempting to incorporate that
idea in their entire ethnic and cultural identity. It is very evident that the creators did not do thorough
research or consult actual Chinese people before releasing the ads to the public.
The problem with using stereotypes to dehumanize Chinese people and East Asians is that it works to
the advantage of the dominant ethnicity and ruling group in Western society. By allowing the
dehumanization of Chinese people, the ruling group takes away their social and political power,
furthering the inequality and justification for acts of discrimination against them. Some extreme
examples of acts of discrimination are the past anti-Chinese immigration laws in the United States and
Canada, and recently, Harvard, an Ivy league university, demonstrating bias against Asian Americans in
their admissions process. These occurred due to biased scapegoating, and the perpetuation of the
“Yellow Peril” and model minority stereotypes, just to mention a few. These acts were all enforced and
allowed by people in great power, like the government, and people with a vast amount of wealth and
In spite of the face that the ads are not inherently evil, they also reference resemblances to past
incidents of yellowface, which should be enough to raise many viewers’ eyebrows. The most noteworthy
presence of yellowface, off-color casting, lack of proper representation, and white hegemony occurred
in Hollywood movies.
Yellowface is racist and stereotypical, as it plays into years of unequal power dynamics in the film
industry and Western society. Whites, the dominant ruling group, have enforced rules over many years
to keep minority ethnicities, such as East Asians, excluded. The assumption that mainly white people are
able to play roles meant for minority actors gets reinforced, and it leads to the idea that they should stay
silent, remain fetishised, and be represented by only the dominant ethnicity and ruling group.
The movie industry has the power to control the representation of specific racial groups. In other words,
they have the influence to promote and enable positive or harmful stereotypes. Since the beginning of
cinema, the practice of hiring white actors for East Asian roles existed and still continues to this day.
Actors would use heavy makeup (ie: yellow toned face paint/foundation, black eyeliner, etc.) and tape to
make their eyes look smaller in order to appear more ‘Oriental’ and foreign. Not only does this grossly
appropriate and exaggerate facial characteristics of East Asians, but it would also be combined with
stereotypical behaviors used for mockery, and also contributing an ethnocentric representation of what
being ‘Asian’ is, as non-Asians can only draw upon said stereotypical behavior, since they have no real
experience of being immersed in the life and culture as a racial minority.
So, the issue is not just a lack of visibility, or the denial of roles for East Asians and the Chinese, but the
abuse and misrepresentation from those in positions of power to control their narratives. From doing so,
they get to maintain their power, dominance, while staying at the top of the racial and hierarchical ladder
in society, as long as the stereotypes they can perpetuate continue existing.
Past incidents of racism are proof that stereotypes always start somewhere, such as within ads, and
forms of art and entertainment like films. No matter how minor, stereotypes have the power to affect
people’s lives to put them at larger psychological and financial disadvantages in life to further divide and
separate them from the ruling groups in society, and the groups they perceive as normal and
acceptable, as enforced by them in order to continue maintaining their power.
Learn but don't copy directly ;)