Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dealing with network racism?

First of all, the book is finished! YEAAAHHHHH!!!!! Now I"ll probably sell only 500 copies at the most, but hey, it's done!

Next a quick note about the World Baseball Classic. A few days ago, my wife and I were watching a broadcast of the Japan versus China game happening at the Tokyo Dome and we noticed the word "JAP" staring at us from the screen. Yes, in a brilliant move of cultural sensitivity, ESPN2 used JAP as shorthand for "Japan" on the scoreboard. My wife was so steamed that she kept screaming at the TV set whileI wondered if ESPN would ever dare to abbreviate a Nigerian team the same way. I understand that so many Internet users commonly and insensitively use the word "Jap" (which is a disgusting trend but not the subject of this post) but ESPN?

So she twisted my arm and made me send an email to complaining about the insensitive designation. Of course, I received the following form letter, which I have edited for you:

Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2006 15:15:46 -0800
Subject: Thank You
From: "Ask ESPN TV"


Thank you for your e-mail. It has been successfully routed to a customer
service representative.

Due to the large volume of e-mail we receive, we are unable to respond
to general comments, but they will be passed on to the appropriate
network executives.
P.S. Would you like to continue to express your opinions about ESPN and
play a part in the programming decisions that get made? Come join the
ESPN Viewer Panel where you can take surveys and earn prizes. Please go
to to sign up. You must complete the
registration process to qualify.


So this is what you get when you complain, a form letter. Frankly, I was too busy catching up with pile of work I had neglected while writing my manuscript so I put aside for the moment visions of an internet letter writing campaign.

And then tonight, I caught the ending of the Japan versus Mexico game and saw the words JPN staring at me. Maybe it was my email, or more likely, the hundreds of emails sent to them, but yes, they had changed the word in question. My wife was happy (and even happier that Japan won the game). I wrote a letter of thank you to ESPN. (Curiously, Sports Illustrated has the game listed as JAP vs CHN. Hmmm...)

But then, maybe the JAP designation was made by someone in Japan. After all, there's a line of clothing store in Kobe, Japan called "Club Japs".

And the largest underground shopping mall in Japan is a place called "Whity Umeda". Can you imagine telling the kids, "Hey, let's shop at Whity!" Ah, ignorance cuts both ways.