Borderline Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall
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Posted by eric_90

Did anyone else notice the Upper Deck booth in the Dealer Hall this year?

They were promoting their Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China game (which was also advertised on the lanyards given away with GenCon badges) so they decorated their booth like it was a Chinese restaurant (like in the movie).

Unfortunately, it just ended up looking really kitschy, cheesy, and stereotypical. When I saw it, I wasn't sure whether I should be amused or offended.

Given the apparent lack of diversity among the Upper Deck employees/volunteers there, it seemed somewhere between cultural appropriation and reinforcing offensive stereotypes.

I had a brief, civilized discussion with one of their hapless employees who was at the host/hostess booth. When I inquired about the appropriateness of the setting, the best he could come up with was that it was okay since it was based on the source material (the movie).

Given that the 1986 movie was criticized even back then for trafficking in racial stereotypes, that doesn't seem like a very satisfying answer.

Now I'm hoping that this thread doesn't devolve into angry diatribes on larger racial issues. (Race is a social construct and doesn't really exist biologically. But since a lot of people believe in the concept, in accordance with subjective reality and "belief is reality," there nonetheless still are very real consequences). In any case, I thought it might be an interesting (and maybe even educational) discussion point.

Looking at it another way, imagine if Upper Deck had decorated their booth as a stereotypical gangland ghetto, or a stereotypical drug cartel headquarters, or a stereotypical reservation - those would be equally offensive.

It also makes me wonder if GenCon actually checks or approves the operations of its exhibitors. Though in this case, Upper Deck was actually a major Contributing Sponsor and GenCon even promoted this game on its lanyards.

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Posted by miked

My wife is chinese she liked it.

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Posted by nikki

I thought it was an excellent representation of their product and I loved the booth.  It made me think Big Trouble even before I saw the awesome Pork-chop Express.  Everyone that talked about it seemed to enjoy how fun it was and how well it captured the feeling of the movie.  This is the first opinion I've heard/seen about it being offensive.

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Posted by aldctjoc

Same here. I'm Asian (albeit only a quarter Chinese), but being a fan of the movie I saw that it was totally about reflecting the movie and nothing else. I just can't get myself to be worked up about it, to be honest.

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Posted by bithlord eric_90

eric_90 wrote:
Did anyone else notice the Upper Deck booth in the Dealer Hall this year?
They were promoting their Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China game (which was also advertised on the lanyards given away with GenCon badges) so they decorated their booth like it was a Chinese restaurant (like in the movie).
Unfortunately, it just ended up looking really kitschy, cheesy, and stereotypical. When I saw it, I wasn't sure whether I should be amused or offended.
Given the apparent lack of diversity among the Upper Deck employees/volunteers there, it seemed somewhere between cultural appropriation and reinforcing offensive stereotypes.
I had a brief, civilized discussion with one of their hapless employees who was at the host/hostess booth. When I inquired about the appropriateness of the setting, the best he could come up with was that it was okay since it was based on the source material (the movie).
Given that the 1986 movie was criticized even back then for trafficking in racial stereotypes, that doesn't seem like a very satisfying answer.
Now I'm hoping that this thread doesn't devolve into angry diatribes on larger racial issues. (Race is a social construct and doesn't really exist biologically. But since a lot of people believe in the concept, in accordance with subjective reality and "belief is reality," there nonetheless still are very real consequences). In any case, I thought it might be an interesting (and maybe even educational) discussion point.
Looking at it another way, imagine if Upper Deck had decorated their booth as a stereotypical gangland ghetto, or a stereotypical drug cartel headquarters, or a stereotypical reservation - those would be equally offensive.
It also makes me wonder if GenCon actually checks or approves the operations of its exhibitors. Though in this case, Upper Deck was actually a major Contributing Sponsor and GenCon even promoted this game on its lanyards.
If GenCon bans every booth that is offensive to an overly sensitive social justice warrior, we will only have generic booths with nothing on them, but white material with black lettering. 

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Posted by rhone1

The booth, like the movie, was in good fun and not to be taken too seriously.  The game is also fun.

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Posted by eric_90

nikki, aldctjoc, and rhone1 all responded about how it reflected the movie, which it does. The problem is whether the movie is racist to begin with.

1. It's on Complex Magazine's list of The 50 Most Racist Movies:

http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/05/the-50-most-racist-movies/

2. Back when the movie came out in 1986, there were complaints about the racist stereotypes it perpetrated.

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-07-11/entertainment/ca-20135_1_big-trouble

Chinese for Affirmative Action and other members of Asian media groups say it is unlikely that a white man would come into an Asian community to save the day. They also say that director John Carpenter's comedy adventure, which had mediocre box office figures its first five days, ($3,827,185 according to Daily Variety) is racist and will encourage anti-Asian prejudices among young moviegoers.

....

While many who went to the screening said they enjoyed the movie, some Asian organizations believe the film contains ethnic stereotypes that would offend many Asian-Americans.

3. http://www.ew.com/article/2016/07/16/big-trouble-little-china-oral-history

Some members of the Chinese community were upset by what they regarded as the stereotypical depictions in a “white man’s product” and by the fact that hardly any nonwhite female characters talk in the film.

....

Despite the casting of Dun, Hong, and Wong in prominent roles, the film became a point of controversy for Asian-American activists concerned the movie was trafficking in racist stereotypes. At one point during production, 25 protesters arrived at one of the movie’s locations to distribute leaflets complaining that film concerned “a macho, smart-aleck truckdriver and his Chinese ‘yes’ man.”

CARPENTER: It was a San Francisco guy who said, “Now, this is a movie for white people.” It was really unpleasant. What are you going to do? You’re right, I am Caucasian! You’re right! And then we were picketed. It was unbelievable. What a world!

4. http://www.lovehkfilm.com/panasia/big_trouble_in_little_china.html

What feels so wrong, however, is how Carpenter treats all the fantastical elements as if they are commonplace to the Chinese characters (read: people) – and that ouldn't be a travesty in and of itself, given the film is a satirical fantasy, if so many of those characters didn't remind you of the Asian caricatures from as far back as the 20s and 30s. It's as if Big Trouble in Little China would have you believe, despite being an obvious work of fiction, that Chinese men on a whole are as daffy and loony as they appear on-screen here, and the plot is only a fantasy to the protagonist, a crass truck driver who gets more than he bargained for gambling and drinking one night in Chinatown. The women, not surprisingly, are almost completely relegated to a single scene in a brothel.

....

The racist undertones in the plotting may seem like a stretch until you take into consideration just how many of the Chinese characters look and behave like the titular yellow-faced caricatures of the pre-War World War II Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu and Mr. Moto serials.

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@saburch: Well, we could also probably do without all the booth babes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the gaming industry and gaming population are a bit lacking in terms of diversity (e.g. racial, gender, possible other dimensions like maybe LGBTQIA).

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On the religious front, Lo Pan actually was a historical person who was deified as a god and serves as a "patron saint" for Chinese buildings and contractors.

There actually is a Lo Pan Temple dedicated to him in Hong Kong.

So naming the main villain of the movie "Lo Pan" probably wasn't the best idea. Then again, Hollywood has a bad habit of appropriating and presenting unflattering depictions from a lot of religions (e.g. Greek, Norse, Hindu, Egyptian, etc.)

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Posted by austicke bithlord

saburch wrote:
If GenCon bans every booth that is offensive to an overly sensitive social justice warrior, we will only have generic booths with nothing on them, but white material with black lettering. 

This social justice warrior heartily endorses your plan.

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Posted by burrfoot72

I have come here to chew bubblegum...........

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Posted by ploveking

“a macho, smart-aleck truckdriver and his Chinese ‘yes’ man.”

  Someone missed the point. Jack Burton is not the hero of the movie. He thinks he is, but he is really the bumbling sidekick. He has no idea what is going on through the whole movie, he misses the action in every fight scene, he doesn't get the girl, either girl, the only things about him that don't say "sidekick" are that he is white, and he is usually the tallest person in the scene (sidekicks are usually short).

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Posted by nikki ploveking

ploveking wrote:
“a macho, smart-aleck truckdriver and his Chinese ‘yes’ man.”

  Someone missed the point. Jack Burton is not the hero of the movie. He thinks he is, but he is really the bumbling sidekick. He has no idea what is going on through the whole movie, he misses the action in every fight scene, he doesn't get the girl, either girl, the only things about him that don't say "sidekick" are that he is white, and he is usually the tallest person in the scene (sidekicks are usually short).


Exactly!  That's most of the fun.  Everyone around him is awesome and understands everything while he's a good-hearted, lunk-headed guy who's only claim to fame is his reflexes and loyalty.

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Posted by aldctjoc eric_90

eric_90 wrote:
... aldctjoc... all responded about how it reflected the movie, which it does. The problem is whether the movie is racist to begin with.

And what, I'm supposed to be offended by the movie now?

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Posted by braewe

I think that is what the op is trying for, yes. Well, I liked the movie and saw nothing amiss with the booth.

People these days get waaaay too hung up on the little things, instead of looking into real thing--I have been volunteering for a local organization here called Kids Food Basket: http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/, which helps feed,(surprise), kids who might not get enough at home. It's rewarding and at least I feel like I'm doing SOMETHING even if it isn't donating the big bucks. It's only a couple hours a week, mostly making peanut butter sandwiches on peanut butter sandwich day, packing the lunches that day, and helping carry the boxes to the waiting vans. More useful, I think, than picking apart a gaming booth.

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Posted by aldctjoc

No, no, that's not what I'm getting at... I'm not trying to say there are better things to be doing than talking about this. Rather, it's this: This focus on racial sensitivity has gone so far past median that it's ceased obliterating divisive lines and simply redrawn them in other places. 

I saw a movie. A movie that gave other Asians roles and a paycheck and never came off to me to be anything other than out-there fantasy. I didn't see any reflection of "Asian inferiority" or any subtext encouraging anti-asian bias. On the contrary, I saw a brave but seriously bewildered big white dude loyally helping out his Asian buddy. I never saw racism; I saw the opposite of racism in Jack and Wang's friendship. And now what, I'm supposed to drop that because of funky, dorky costumes and magic? Because somehow all asians were supposed to know Kung Fu? Why the hell should my view of the movie be replaced with that of some self-proclaimed "activists" who are self-interested in creating controversy and singling out elements supporting their advocacy rather than viewing things as a whole? 

Why is the line now between people who want to enjoy that which was enjoyable and never made with the intent of insult, and those who want to find fault? And why is it considered a virtue to draw fault from those things nowadays? 

That's what I'm aggravated about. Why am I supposed to be offended at this? Is the message of Jack and Wang's friendship overridden by the kitsch? Or do we accept that in a fantasy world, you're not going to find sober suits or polo shirts on the evil wizards? Furthermore, why do the people taking offense get precedence in their feelings over someone like me, who did find a good message in there? Why is it considered a damn virtue to take offense so liberally? That's what I'm getting at. We keep on wanting these discussions on race to take for granted that the racism that's perceived is a fact and not disputable, then go from there. Where does it leave us who see things differently? 

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Posted by eric_90 aldctjoc

aldctjoc wrote:
eric_90 wrote:
... aldctjoc... all responded about how it reflected the movie, which it does. The problem is whether the movie is racist to begin with.

And what, I'm supposed to be offended by the movie now?

Nope. You are free to believe or not believe whatever you wish.
braewe wrote:
I think that is what the op is trying for, yes. Well, I liked the movie and saw nothing amiss with the booth.
People these days get waaaay too hung up on the little things, instead of looking into real thing--I have been volunteering for a local organization here called Kids Food Basket: http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/, which helps feed,(surprise), kids who might not get enough at home. It's rewarding and at least I feel like I'm doing SOMETHING even if it isn't donating the big bucks. It's only a couple hours a week, mostly making peanut butter sandwiches on peanut butter sandwich day, packing the lunches that day, and helping carry the boxes to the waiting vans. More useful, I think, than picking apart a gaming booth.
aldctjoc wrote:
No, no, that's not what I'm getting at... I'm not trying to say there are better things to be doing than talking about this. Rather, it's this: This focus on racial sensitivity has gone so far past median that it's ceased obliterating divisive lines and simply redrawn them in other places. 

Both of you seem to be focusing on (over)racial sensitivity today.

But people were upset about Big Trouble in Little China back when it was released - back in 1986.

Are you saying people were overly sensitive and hung up on the little things back then - 30 years ago?

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Posted by father bloodlust

Interesting time to bring this up, a month after the convention.

Don't really have anything else to say, having never played the game or seen the movie (I know, I know - it's on my long list of "to see when I have the time" movies).

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Posted by nikki eric_90

eric_90 wrote:But people were upset about Big Trouble in Little China back when it was released - back in 1986.
Are you saying people were overly sensitive and hung up on the little things back then - 30 years ago?

I honestly feel people got upset just based on what they heard back then, on mostly assumptions based on what had happened in Hollywood before.  They hadn't seen it yet, hadn't realized how cool it made all the other characters out to be, how hard it tried to marry so many different things together.  You don't hear people (except in this thread) today saying what was said back before it was released.

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Posted by braewe

And yes, actually. People were indeed hung up on little things thirty years ago. I may be getting arthritis and my hearing isn't what it used to be but I still remember things when I was twenty. I think things really began changing in the seventies...when I was in first grade, the usual public school punishments for various infractions included--being kept in a dark closet for various amounts of time, smacked with a ruler across the knuckels, a belted spanking on the rear, blindfolded and stood in the corner, and of course, the dunce cap.

Some of these began phasing out by my third grade...by fourth it was down to being kept in at recess. I cannot recall ANY physical punishments after third grade. Also about sixth grade or so maybe fifth, the racial slurs disappeared. Now I am NOT saying that racial slurs are a 'little thing' please do not read into this that I totally disagree with progression. Or that I approve of the punishments listed above because I do not. But I do try to keep things in perspective. A little humor is fine. Actively hiring or not hiring someone due just to color is not.

Funny thing though. I sure remember my first and second grade teachers likes and dislikes a LOT better than any other teachers. And that was...1971 when I was in first grade.

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Posted by ploveking

I found the booth with the fake markdown pricing a lot more offensive. Product that was marked as $48, slashed though and sold at deep discount for $32, while amazon, target and cool stuff showed it at list price for $28. Same booth, same trick, almost everything in the booth, every year.

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Posted by gib_rebeg bithlord

saburch wrote:
[/forums/15-general-info-2016/topics/6661-borderline-offensive-upper-deck-booth-at-dealer-hall?page=1#20550ined] eric_90 wrote:[/url]
If GenCon bans every booth that is offensive to an overly sensitive social justice warrior, we will only have generic booths with nothing on them, but white material with black lettering. 
I find this Borderline Offensive as it excuses other colors. To limit our writing to white and black is racist.

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