Meet Mr. James, the star of McDonald's new ad campaign in Japan: He's a wacky white guy in nerd glasses who speaks broken Japanese, hitches his pants up to his armpits, and probably strikes out with the ladies. Americans living in Japan call the Mr. James campaign racism, while the Huffington Post's Disgrasian blog calls it payback. "Karma's one wacky bitch, isn't it?"
Mr. James, say Disgrasian's Jen Wang and Diana Nguyen, just turns the tables on the goofy Asian geek who is a mainstay of American culture, from the Engrish-speakers in kimonos in a current KFC ad to the barking, accented Asian man in a recent Six Flags commercial. Besides, Mr. James is hardly the norm in Japanese advertising, where images of beautiful, sophisticated foreigners abound.