Yesterday we wrote about LuckyFortune, the iPhone app dripping in Chinese caricature. Its inventor has written in to defend that app as inoffensive, uplifting, "light hearted and fun." Chinese Americans told him so!
Jennifer 8. Lee of the New York Times gave the app a "yikes" for the "ching-chong voice" used to read the captions. We found the gong and clichéd string refrain similarly distasteful. But some commenters thought we were being too sensitive; people consulted by LuckyFortune developer "FunVid Apps" apparently felt the same:
We have no intention of making fun of Chinese people. In fact, prior to its release we showed the application to a few Chinese-Americans and asked them if they found it offensive and they all thought the application was fun and were not offended at all. One person that I showed the app actually said, "You know Chinese people have a sense of humor too!"
Yes, well, this app isn't going to start, like, personally disenfranchising Chinese Americans any time soon, and there is a certain hilarity in its complete and utter descent into total caricature. But this isn't Eddie Murphy in whiteface, or even Robert Downey Junior in blackface. More like Ted Danson, in that it is fairly unredeemed. LuckyFortune comes not so much to parody Chinese stereotypes as to revel in them, and in the service of the fairly lame goal of reading cheesy fortunes lifted from Phantom of the Opera lyrics. If that's uplifting to you, then you can at least take comfort that, although you may be taking enjoyment from a caricature, you're not doing business with a racist, because, judging from its statement, FunVid Apps is certainly not that.
The company's full statement follows below. (It is signed in the company name. Yesterday we emailed Charles Hill, to whom the FunVid domain is registered; this is the first response we've received.)