This week's bad guy is T-Mobile, who are currently promoting their fee-less cell phone service using flash animated banners of the "Poser Mobile Posse". The Posse are three cartoon figures: "Big Spenda" Lopez, "The Fee" Jones, and, naturally, "25 cent" Chang. In the animations, they are "posing" as cell phone service providers who try to sell their customers on the hip hop cred of their services, all the while charging fees. You can see the three banners on this student's website. And here's a closer view of our very own representative, "25 cent Chang".
The three caricatures of a smoked-out Latino, slit-eyed, grinning Asian, and fat, pimped-out white guy are a new, interesting spin on using racial stereotypes to sell product. Instead of selling mainstream whiteness a la Aryancrombie and Fitch, T-Mobile is itself clearly trying to sell black hip hop cred. The implication of the ads is that whites, Latinos and Asians are not really hip hop, not really street, not really trustworthy. The ads are meant to appeal to a consumer base that will presumably accept this premise without question: either a black consumer base, or a non-black consumer base anxious to acquire street legitimacy themselves.
That Latinos, whites and Asians are being sacrificed in favor of a tough, street image of blackness is, as I said, interesting, since we're used to seeing blacks, Latinos and Asians sacrificed for a clean image of whiteness. But it's only interesting for about two minutes. Then it's just racist. I really hope they don't think this ploy will actually work.
If you want to tell them yourself exactly what kind of metal this balloon is made of, here's the contact info:
T–Mobile Customer Relations
PO Box 3730
Albuquerque, NM 87176-7380
email: click on the words CONTACT US at the bottom of their website
Thanks to May-lee Chai, via Heather Woodward, for the heads up.