Reaction to Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food”

There has been more than a bit of an outcry among Cornell’s Asian community in response to Alison Gold’s new song “Chinese Food”. Curious as to what all the hullabaloo was all about, I decided to see the video myself.

It opens with a scene of a Chinese guy frying noodles and Alison Gold singing a song that reminded me of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” (who else agrees that it’s an odd coincidence both girls’ last names are colors?”). For the first half of the song, my reaction was, “Ok, it’s a pretty crappy song about stereotypical Chinese food.” And then I saw the panda.Chinese Food 1Obviously, the panda was put in to reinforce the fact that the song is about things that many Americans find to be stereotypically “Chinese”. The video only got worse from there. Toward the end of the video, we see Alison Gold singing and dancing with these two other people.

Chinese Food 2I want to ask forgiveness, for I am an American of Indian descent (even if I did minor in East Asia Studies as an undergrad), but the dresses the three women are wearing look suspiciously like Japanese kimono to me. I’m not going to go into how the makeup artist probably looked to Mulan for inspiration.

So what can I say? Yes, it’s really racist, and I think Chinese Americans (and Americans in general) have every right in the world to be offended. But I want to step back for a second and think about why this video was made, and one needn’t look further than the hit count of the official music video on YouTube.

As of when I’m typing this up, the video 2,768,760 hits. Did I mention the video was published on YouTube yesterday? Sure, the video got more than 4 times as many dislikes as it did get likes, but that doesn’t change the fact that it got 2,768,760 hits in a little bit over a day.

If you can make it to becoming a record producer, I really have a hard time believing that you would be stupid enough to think that this is not going to offend anyone. In fact, I think they intentionally decided to go and write a song this bad and a video this outrageous: they knew a lot of people would see it, and it doesn’t matter how the people actually reacted. In fact, by offended people posting on Facebook and the like, news of the song spreads quicker than ever. At the same time, they were wise enough to not select African Americans or any other highly vocal group, or else they would have a real PR issue on their hands.

It’s clearly a case of, “Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.” While I reiterate that people have every right to be offended by this song, I think a better response would have been to simply not acknowledge this song. By being angry and letting people know how angry you are, you played right into the trap of those responsible for this song and video. If you didn’t, “Chinese Food” simply would’ve become yet another forgotten, bad entry in the long history of music.