Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

MetroPCS’ unfunny commercials

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We talked about MetroPCS’ Ranjit Chad tech talk commercial in an earlier post, remarking that there was perhaps some stereotyping of desis going on in this ad. [UD]

Well, the perhaps part has been laid to rest. For some ad execs, Indian-Americans particularly the newer immigrants with their accents and garish (at least from an American perspective) choice of attire, make an easy target to garner a quick chuckle or two at their expense. MetroPCS now has an entire series of these commercials, including a couple aired during the recently concluded SuperBowl. With these series of ads, MetroPCS has attained new heights (or depths depending on your perspective) in stereotyping, surpassing Joe Biden’s Indian Americans and 7/11 Dunkin Donuts comments. I’m guessing the next commercial will have a half-naked fakir sitting on a bed of nails.

We, the bloggers of Über Desi, are well known for maintaining our sense of humor, often taking pot shots at various Indian and Indian-American idiosyncrasies and even some of us feel that these commercials are way over the line. What do you think?

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  • Bee

    Since I live in India, I haven't seen these ads; but I understand the discussion. Santosh, if you object to the Americans making fun of our accents, then, perhaps you should also stop doing that. Aren't you also poking fun at your fellow countrymen's accents when you write "Amrika", "vaat", "hawdawgs" and so on in your blogs? Having said that, I really enjoy reading what you write, you've great style and a uber cool way of presenting serious matter in a funny vein, reminding me of the chakyars in Koodiyattom.

  • Santosh

    Thanks Bee. I make fun of Indian accents because at some level I have one too. But your point is well taken.

  • A Born American

    It's bad enough our jobs are outsourced to India and unemployment has hit an all time high, but now we are insulted with commercials like this! I will never be a Metro PCS customer because of this!

  • I got completed pissed off seeing these ads during the Superbowl - simply disgusting. I hada room ful of desis backing me up on this

  • Although I don’t agree with all you wrote here, I must admit I do admire your style of writing.

  • Marie

    im not even indian and i took this offensive!!! this commercial was based on a blatent stereotype and it absolutly disgusts me! Sure every once in a while you will hear an indian working at customer service but that is just as common as any other race working there! And even more they had to add those accents, i know that that is the indian accent but it also adds to the stereo type and makes this commercial more ignorant! why they would single out one race and not even consider indians in this country i will never know. But seriously they should get a reality check and realize that this world is moving forward and this ignorant stereotipical way of "comedy" will no longer be accepted without some sort of reprecusions! So i think that metro pcs should really get better ideas that dont offend a majority of citizens!

  • NRI Techie

    What is wrong in these ads..Lot of Indians behave like this in workplace..they think they are masters of all !!

  • marie

    that is so ignorant of you to say! just because the indians that you asocciate with act like that does not mean that every one of them do! So you are just adding to the ignorance in this society!

  • Rani

    Just saying that you find these ad offensive is going to have any impact on MetroPCS. We need to get a campain going to have these ads stopped. Any Indian who has MetroPCS service should disconnect and let them know why.

  • Laura

    I completly agree

  • John

    For people who think this is just good 'ol Americans mocking accents, etc... three points:

    1.) Who have the balls to do Chinese, Hispanic, Arabic, or Black accents now in commercials like this?
    2.) These commercials basically de-humanize South Asians in that they convey the idea that South Asians don't need to be taken seriously because they are ridiculous for their accents AND they should change it to be more "American" or global.
    3.) I suppose a century of destroying the self-esteem of minority groups in America through this kind of stereotyping (it was the Irish and the Italians early on -- drunks and mobsters, then the Eastern Europeans, Hispanics, Chinese).. makes kids feel like sh!t and are trained to hate their cultures... Of course, if any of those people who do Yoga, are interested in Indian philosophy, or get treated by South Asian doctors had any guts, they would also register a protest. But, let's not forget... SA's make a lot of money and there are a lot of jealous people these commercials are tapping into.. too bad they are picking on the new immigrants.

  • We're not against showing of Indian-Americans on TV, in fact we're for it. And we don't care about the accents if they stop at that.

    What we're railing against here is the mounting number of stereotypes this series of ads promote. In one of the commercials there is a line that goes: “You are now like my uncle’s cow, Godi — tied to a post and milked at regular intervals.”. And that is but one of the stereotypes portrayed in the series of ads. Is there a ceiling for these stereotypes?

  • Runa

    @vadasambar: Bollywood annoys/offends me ALL the time.The issue is not accents or lack thereof - its offensive when you try to fit ALL stereotypes into one ad in the name of some misguided attempt at "humor"

    Anyway - its all a matter of opinion what?

  • Vadasambar

    I'm an Indian working in the US, and I think these are hilarious. Indian engineers running their own talk show in the US is way cooler than the typical 711 store clerk (Appu - The Simpsons), cab driver (Ranjit _ How I Met Your Mother), or even Doctor roles viewers in the US are used to seeing Indians in.

    So what if they have an accent? Everybody on the planet speaks English with an accent, including the British. And all accents sound funny if unfamiliar. Indians from the north chuckle at South Indian accents and vice versa, for the record.

    Are these characters realistic and true? You bet. Just go hang out at any technology/telecom park and you'll see avatars of Ranjit & Chad.

    Would you rather not have any first generation Indians on TV? Would you rather have them speak with American accents? Wouldn't that be unnatural? Should they do it to fit in? I find that notion offensive. I still speak with a pronounced South Indian accent, after having lived here for years, and I'm not ashamed of it. In fact, I wear it like a badge and take pride in it.

    Ranjit & Chad are tech gurus...heroes...and should be heralded for being confident in their own skin and identity. And for having a sense of humor.

    How come you guys aren't offended by Bollywood and the crap they put out? None of it is a true depiction of our country, just pure fantasy. You're OK with Indians being portrayed at people who serenade around trees in elaborate dance sequences? Have you ever seen that happen in real life? I certainly haven't.

  • if the actors have no problem doing it then why should we

    Of course the actors don't care. They get paid to do this.

    Being all nationalities in America are made fun of. Its fine.

    That doesn't make it right. Other nationalities should not be made fun of in this manner either. Also there are no 4-5 ad series by one corporation targeting people of other nationalities.

  • KieranMullen

    Being all nationalities in America are made fun of. Its fine.

  • marie

    yes we realize that everyone is made fun of in some sort of way, but companies have to be responsible enought to not encourage that on national television!

  • steve

    who cares. if the actors have no problem doing it then why should we

  • jamie

    BECAUSE they are adding to the stereotypes that many of us are trying to breakdown!, and obviously the actors and creators have no resepct for this culture because they are making fun of it and picking it apart for the entire world to see!!!

  • Melvin,
    I do find it offensive you brought up Sarah Palin in the same sentence as desis :-)

  • "But I feel they’ve gotten that way, as they started airing more and more commercials with references to snake charmers, mongooses and classical dancers."

    They are so idiotic that it's hard for me to be offended. But I understand why you might find it offensive.

    Having ads like this is another sign that desis have "arrived" in America, that they're worth making fun of, just as Sarah Palin hit the bigtime when SNL made fun of her in a skit.

  • Let's make jokes on
    Accents - check
    Clothes - check
    Dance - check
    Geeks/techies - check
    Snake/cow - check

    The creator could be Indian or Martian but still two (or in this case half a dozen) wrongs don't a right make.

  • Runa

    Oh and per the comment on this blog post http://blog.mtviggy.com/2010/0... there was INDIAN creative person working on this ad.

    In which case I can only say : he or she ought to be completely ashamed of themselves and should turn in their desi card ASAP

  • Runa

    I got completed pissed off seeing these ads during the Superbowl - simply disgusting. I hada room ful of desis backing me up on this

  • Like you, I don't find the commercials funny. I don't find them particularly offensive either.

  • Melvin,
    Thanks for your response. I didn't find the first commercial that offensive either. But I feel they've gotten that way, as they started airing more and more commercials with references to snake charmers, mongooses and classical dancers.

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