What the hell is this?
Well, I’ll tell you what it purports to be. It purports to be an advertisement for a personal injury law firm. Therefore, you’d expect it to have a bunch of testimonials from downtrodden people whose suffering is slightly eased by the BIG CASH AWARD that the law firm helped them secure. Then we’d see a pair of attorneys sitting on a desk in front of a bunch of law reporters swearing that they “will fight for you” with all the inflection and passion that Stephen Hawking would give that line read. It’s a pretty simple formula. The ads are always terrible, but they’re safe. And if you’re going to take a risk, try to make an awesome ad like this one.
Or you could just hurl racist imagery at us with the production values of a public access program….
(Please note the UPDATES added below.)
So here you go, brought to you with an assist from Angry Asian Man:
You’ve got a fat white guy acting out a Charlie Chan parody in front of a greenscreened Benihana. It’s the City Wok Guy sans the self-aware critical play of South Park.
He refers the viewer to McCutcheon & Hamner, whose website, mhatty.com, he helpfully spells out for us. Thankfully there were no Ls in that address. The lawyers of McCutcheon & Hamner specialize in car accident, workers compensation, and disability cases, and they are based in… oh what the hell, just take a guess. If you guessed “Alabama,” then good job! Roll Tide.
The character’s name is apparently “Mr. Wong Fong Shu” and, per Angry Asian Man, this character isn’t the law firm’s doing as much as the production company’s. That company, Definitive Television, uses this character in a whole array of ads at client request. So make no mistake, McCutcheon & Hamner hired this production company (though Definitive cannot “confirm or deny” if the firm did so “directly or indirectly,” whatever that means) so they knew what racist imagery they wanted their firm to embrace because they had to ask for this caricature to represent their law firm to the world. And even if the firm “didn’t know” what this would look like, they do now and the ad is still up.
Definitive Television, for its part, seems to understand how offensive its character is and equally understands how little it cares:
In the world of politically incorrectness and the client’s 1st amendment right, we created this satire comedy video. Keep in mind, we live in the world of Use our intentionally Cheesy B Rate Stick to create your commercial.
Over hundreds upon hundreds of verified customers. he does not say violent things of physical harm or assault. WARNING HE MAY OFFEND YOU AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE HIM, DON’T WATCH HIM. If you’re offended and still watch him, we hope you enjoy picking the wad out of your panties and it gives your relief.
We have a lot of stops on the douchebag express here: the classic misapplication of the First Amendment bar on government infringement as an excuse to be an asshole to everyone; holding up violence as it’s the only possible warrant for offense; the “then don’t watch him” line, as though keeping bigotry alive among the club that “gets it” is fine if the people being humiliated for fun don’t watch; and, of course, the feminization of anyone who might not approve. That’s the John Rocker four-way parlay.
For good measure these guys list a bunch of professional acts that they think are equivalent. Except almost every one of them features someone generating comedy by mocking the stereotype (except C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man — that was just racist). The whole joke of the Robert Downey Jr. character in Tropic Thunder is that he’s a pretentious asshole for thinking he can go in blackface. And how did “John Cho in Harold and Kumar” end up on here? I’m beginning to think these guys don’t know Asian people really exist.
The commentary concludes:
We are respect your 1st amendment right and your freedom of opinion and speech on our comment board and will approve your comments. Currently out of respect to the Attorney Firm, we have elected to disable the comment threadat the request of McCutheon & Hamner, We may open them back up soon
Apparently they hired their own character to write their statement.
UPDATE (11/29/2013, 11:45 a.m.): Here is the firm’s comment, as posted to its Facebook page:
Attention: McCutcheon and Hamner’s You Tube Channel has been hacked. Our firm did not approve the latest advertising commercial. We apologize to anyone who has watched the commercial. Our IT team has been working all morning to get the commercial taken off YouTube and find the person who is responsible for this action. Again this firm sends out our sincerest apology.
— Thomas W. McCutcheon and Joel R. Hamner
We’ve reached out to Definitive Television to see if they have any comment on McCutcheon and Hamner’s claim of “hacking.” We’ll update this post if and when we hear back from them.
UPDATE (12/2/2013, 12 p.m.): Here is a statement from Jim DeBerry of Definitive Television:
As a general practice, we elect not to comment on articles or stories or blogs regarding third party information we aren’t privy to.
We do not control or have access to McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C’s Youtube Account and have no direct knowledge of or that their youtube account was hacked. We are not hackers or in the “hacking” business, We run a production company that creates “Cheesy B-Rate Commercials.” We have never had any involvement with McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C’s Youtube Account.
We have already issued a statement on our youtube video posting regarding the video that we produced in question. The statement includes we had been hired to create the video and the hiring party which provided the copy/script. We uphold integrity. We ask that you refer back to such video regarding such matter to help answer some questions you may have.
We object to the statements of racism, as we do not fit under the legal definition, which is, The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race. We have great relationships with many members of the Asian American, African American, Hispanic, and other Ethnic Communities. Over time, we have made contributions to help promote equal opportunities and relief funds of these ethnic communities. While some of our characters may be considered edgy in the vein of Jerry Springer or Satire Comedy and not suitable for some, including the heavily opinionated, we promote equality, unity and are not racist.
Furthermore, upon your interview request, we have read MR. JOSEPH PATRICE article/blog. Although, we respect your company’s right to free speech and Mr. Patrice’s 1st amendment right, we read with much disappointment related to his slighted (no pun intended) journalism and unethical behavior. I find it interesting that a New York State Licensed Attorney / Journalist would lack better judgment in his ability to create quality journalism by not holding to the standards of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability. We firmly believe MR. JOSEPH PATRICE statements of racism when done with intentional malice and to damage our name for gain of revenue and promotion on his article through your business. Mr. Patrice is not stupid or ignorant, by lacking intelligence or common sense. By all appearances, He is educated and he fully understood the reckless racist statement claims with intentional malice he chose to type and for yourself to distribute when he submitted for article creation in which you accepted. We are currently consulting with another party regarding how we should pursue action against the libel statements made by Mr. Patrice, through your company, and others.
I will accept a retraction and apology related to the racist claims made by MR. JOSEPH PATRICE published by your company.
Not to borrow from the admittedly sexist language of their own YouTube posting, but “if they’re offended and still read me, I hope they enjoy picking the wad out of their panties and it gives them relief.”
UPDATE (12/2/2013, 2:45 p.m.): The plot thickens. Please see this post, featuring a statement that McCutcheon & Hamner issued to Above the Law in which the firm denies any involvement with production of the video.