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TOPIC: Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall

Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #1

*** I just posted this on the GenCon forums and thought I'd repost it here:

Did anyone else notice the Upper Deck booth in the [GenCon] 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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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #2

All of that and it was a really terrible movie without even going into the issues you raise.

Incomprehensible that anyone would think it was a good basis for a game.
D&D teaches all the important lessons in life - the low blow, the cheap shot, the back stab, the double cross. - Jerry Marsischky

Let them trap us. We have our swords. - Elric of Melnibone.

You try to get them to play the game, but all they want to do is play the rules. - Ardak Kumerian

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend - Faramir

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Last edit: by Harlax.

Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #3

I was actually actually stunned by the visual (racial sterotype!!!!!!! at a nerd festival :ohmy: ) and the fact you would do this as a game (this movie made escape from new york look like ET)

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #4

I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it.

Russell's character was not the "hero." He was a clueless white guy who stumbled clumsily through a situation he couldn't control and didn't understand. Jack didn't know "jack." He was pretty much useless the whole movie, until he got in one lucky knife throw with the aid of magic.

The only other European character wasn't much smarter, but at least she wasn't a sexist.

And it was set in "Little China," where the residents affect a personality and reinforce stereotypes for the tourists (e.g. Egg). Much, I imagine, like every "Chinatown" in every big city in North America. But they are something else underneath. They were brave, noble, wise. Except the bad guys, of course. But an action movie without bad guys is pretty dull. Jack was an idiot.

Anyway, I guess I didn't see it the same way. I was baffled that anyone would make a game based on a such an old non-hit movie, though. Didn't seem like a good decision.

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe" - Magritte

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Last edit: by Brad Mortensen.

Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #5

I can't comment on the booth, but I love the movie. I just watched it again recently. I agree it didn't do well at the box office, but it has become an acknowledged cult classic. I'm not surprised at all that they based a game on it.

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #6

Brad Mortensen wrote: I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it.

Russell's character was not the "hero." He was a clueless white guy who stumbled clumsily through a situation he couldn't control and didn't understand. Jack didn't know "jack." He was pretty much useless the whole movie, until he got in one lucky knife throw with the aid of magic.

The only other European character wasn't much smarter, but at least she wasn't a sexist.

And it was set in "Little China," where the residents affect a personality and reinforce stereotypes for the tourists (e.g. Egg). Much, I imagine, like every "Chinatown" in every big city in North America. But they are something else underneath. They were brave, noble, wise. Except the bad guys, of course. But an action movie without bad guys is pretty dull. Jack was an idiot.

Anyway, I guess I didn't see it the same way. I was baffled that anyone would make a game based on a such an old non-hit movie, though. Didn't seem like a good decision.


Satire is often a hit and miss undertaking. Blazing Saddles has held up well. The black make up scene in Silver Streak, not so much.
D&D teaches all the important lessons in life - the low blow, the cheap shot, the back stab, the double cross. - Jerry Marsischky

Let them trap us. We have our swords. - Elric of Melnibone.

You try to get them to play the game, but all they want to do is play the rules. - Ardak Kumerian

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend - Faramir

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #7

Harlax wrote:

Brad Mortensen wrote: I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it...


Satire is often a hit and miss undertaking. Blazing Saddles has held up well. The black make up scene in Silver Streak, not so much.


Satire is meant to make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it's painful.

These movies could have preached the evils of bigotry, like To Kill a Mockingbird. Or they could have debated the legitimacy of various prejudices. Make you angry, appeal to your intellect.

But another path is to make them extreme and ugly, and force you to choose. MLK helped pave the way for tolerance, but many still resisted. Movies like these show you the absurdity and ugliness of clinging to old bigotries, with some humor to take the edge off. You don't want to be like that, do you? Haha. Well, of course not...

So these sorts of movies helped create a climate today where we not only don't tolerate the bigotry of half-a-century ago, but we have a hard time tolerating some of the voices that helped us to see how wrong bigotry is. Kind of ironic.

But maybe I read too much into it. Carpenter could have just been casually racist with no agenda. I'm not saying "Little China" was good or bad, but it doesn't seem to me it was inherently evil or racist. If it was, it was more anti-Caucasian than anti-Asian, showing the only two white characters as arrogant, bumbling idiots who needed to be rescued time and again by their more competent friends, and didn't really learn anything by the end of the movie.

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe" - Magritte

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #8

I wonder how much sponsorship of the lanyards is.

I;d love to get them do for TD one year. :)
*mental note* always listen to Jeff

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #9

Brad Mortensen wrote: I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it.

Russell's character was not the "hero." He was a clueless white guy who stumbled clumsily through a situation he couldn't control and didn't understand. Jack didn't know "jack." He was pretty much useless the whole movie, until he got in one lucky knife throw with the aid of magic.

The only other European character wasn't much smarter, but at least she wasn't a sexist.

And it was set in "Little China," where the residents affect a personality and reinforce stereotypes for the tourists (e.g. Egg). Much, I imagine, like every "Chinatown" in every big city in North America. But they are something else underneath. They were brave, noble, wise. Except the bad guys, of course. But an action movie without bad guys is pretty dull. Jack was an idiot.


This is pretty much my opinion as well, but I'm also whiter than wonderbread, so take that how you will.
~Meta: Don't worry, it is perfectly "safe" to follow the drunken dwarf into the dungeon!

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #10

Brad Mortensen wrote: I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it.

Russell's character was not the "hero." He was a clueless white guy who stumbled clumsily through a situation he couldn't control and didn't understand. Jack didn't know "jack." He was pretty much useless the whole movie, until he got in one lucky knife throw with the aid of magic.

The only other European character wasn't much smarter, but at least she wasn't a sexist.

And it was set in "Little China," where the residents affect a personality and reinforce stereotypes for the tourists (e.g. Egg). Much, I imagine, like every "Chinatown" in every big city in North America. But they are something else underneath. They were brave, noble, wise. Except the bad guys, of course. But an action movie without bad guys is pretty dull. Jack was an idiot.

Anyway, I guess I didn't see it the same way. I was baffled that anyone would make a game based on a such an old non-hit movie, though. Didn't seem like a good decision.



You do realize that many ethnic enclaves (such as many Chinatowns) only exist because of housing and other discrimination?

Brad Mortensen wrote:

Harlax wrote:

Brad Mortensen wrote: I always thought of BTiLC as in the same vein as Blazing Saddles, as lampooning bigotry, not reinforcing it...


Satire is often a hit and miss undertaking. Blazing Saddles has held up well. The black make up scene in Silver Streak, not so much.


Satire is meant to make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it's painful.

These movies could have preached the evils of bigotry, like To Kill a Mockingbird. Or they could have debated the legitimacy of various prejudices. Make you angry, appeal to your intellect.

But another path is to make them extreme and ugly, and force you to choose. MLK helped pave the way for tolerance, but many still resisted. Movies like these show you the absurdity and ugliness of clinging to old bigotries, with some humor to take the edge off. You don't want to be like that, do you? Haha. Well, of course not...

So these sorts of movies helped create a climate today where we not only don't tolerate the bigotry of half-a-century ago, but we have a hard time tolerating some of the voices that helped us to see how wrong bigotry is. Kind of ironic.

But maybe I read too much into it. Carpenter could have just been casually racist with no agenda. I'm not saying "Little China" was good or bad, but it doesn't seem to me it was inherently evil or racist. If it was, it was more anti-Caucasian than anti-Asian, showing the only two white characters as arrogant, bumbling idiots who needed to be rescued time and again by their more competent friends, and didn't really learn anything by the end of the movie.



To quote:

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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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #11

And for some additional references:


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

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.

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. 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!

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Pseudo Offensive Upper Deck Booth at Dealer Hall 6 years 1 month ago #12

Incognito wrote:
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.


To a degree they do - and they have some standards relating to adult only and offensive material you can find in their exhibitor guide (although I get the impression sometimes someone has to complain). I'm confident they don't review all the signage and decorations for booths - as that would be practically impossible.

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