Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Worst. Promotional Event. Ever.

So here we are, on 7-11-07, "celebrating" the transfer of twelve 7-11 stores into Kwik-E-Marts, to help promote the new Simpsons movie.

I'm going to let Ultrabrown handle the Apu issue. Manish is doing a much better job of it than I ever could.

However, there is one little nuance I'd like to add to the table.

Those signs you see in these pictures? (Scroll down; they're near the bottom.) The ones that say "our hot dogs are rich in bunly goodness" and "buy our sandwiches, savor their sandwichy goodness?"

Those aren't Apu quotes.

They're Lunchlady Doris quotes.

The first one is from episode #133, "Lisa the Vegetarian." (And yes, I knew that without having to look it up.) I'm assuming the second one is a variant on the first.

In addition to being racially insulting, looks like the Simpsons promotional people think we'll be too stupid to notice, or that we'll assume all of the fuzzy-grammar slogans tacked to the walls are automatically Apu's, because, you know, those Indians speak the crazy English!

But let's deconstruct this a bit, because I took a semester's worth of post-structural theory and I'll be damned if I don't get to exercise my chops once in a while.

If the Simpsons people are passing off Lunchlady Doris quotes as Apu quotes, they're either A. assuming we won't notice (which makes them idiots -- the Simpsons didn't get to become the monolith it is today without its thousands of devoted fans who can parrot every one-liner), or B. creating a promotional event that isn't really for fans of the Simpsons at all.

That is to say, they're creating an event designed for newbies or low-key fans or people who haven't already memorized the film's release date and plan to attend the first showing. (7-27-07, baby!)

They're creating an event for people who aren't already aware of the film.

And thus, what does it matter if Apu's quotes are canon? If all the low-key viewer knows is a general stereotype of Apu, why not play to that stereotype and give Apu as many ridiculous quotes as possible?

The long-term fans know Apu is a much more rounded character than "thank you, come again" (which explains why many of them argue that Apu shouldn't be viewed as a negative stereotype). But the casual people, the ones who are aware of the Simpsons but are uninterested in memorizing the lyrics to Oh, Streetcar!, well... they're the reason why we shouldn't be having this promotional event.

Because all they will see -- and all this branding represents -- is the stereotype Apu, speaking words that really belong to Lunchlady Doris, because the words are funny, and Indians are funny too.



Rahul said...

those Indians speak the crazy English!

Racist! :)

Beth said...

What about us brain-dead slobs?
You'll be given cushy jobs!
Is there a chance the tracks might bend?
Not on your life, my Hindu friend?
The ring came off my pudding can!
Use my pen knife, my good man!

(From memory, so probably a bit wrong, but with spirit!)

Manish said...

Hey, I nicked your excellent point and linked to you here. Hope you don't mind!

Anonymous said...

Lunchlady Doris may have spoken of "bunly goodness", but let's not forget that when Bart found Bobo in a bag of ice, Apu said "Oooh, a Head Bag! Those are full of... Headdy goodness!"

It's not much of a stretch really.

Blue said...

Manish -- thanks for the link. Of course I don't mind. ^__^

Anon -- hmmm. I had forgotten "heady goodness." (Shows how badly I remember my early Simpsons.) That's an interesting twist.

Wikipedia shows that the "Rosebud" ep and the "Lisa the Vegetarian" ep were written two years apart. Do you suppose they pulled a Kaavya, or is it a meta-reference? ^__^

the spectre said...

Ah, but... when Doris said the line about "bunly goodness" she was criticizing Lisa's vegetarianism. In the same episode Apu encourages Lisa's vegetarianism, so the "bunly goodness" line, in its original context, is said from a point of view directly opposite to Apu's.