Caprice Holdings’s Ivy Asia came under heavy criticism over the weekend after posting a promotional video filled with racist stereotypes and reductive caricatures. Ivy Asia Chelsea, which is the third restaurant in a group known for its use of orientalist decors and culturally flattened menu descriptors, removed the video from all social media on Sunday, August 8, before posting first a short one, then a second longer. “Apologies for any offense committed”.
The promotional video showed women dressed as geishas struggling to get into a rickshaw, driven by an elderly Asian man described as unable to support their weight. When the rickshaw crashes, the two women are rescued by a so-called “hero” in stereotypical warrior clothes. In fantastic scenes, the “hero” propels the two women towards the restaurant, in which they crash with several grocery bags, at which point they are stared at by a dining room full of white customers. The women don’t speak but make indecipherable noises, reminiscent of the racist sketches of the sitcom Little Brittany.
Ivy Asia Chelsea’s account initially disabled comments on Instagram before completely removing the video after several online watchers pointed out the stereotypes and racism. Then came the “sincere” apologies, but not an explanation. The apologies concerned the “offense caused”. “It was wrong,” the Ivy Asia Chelsea account wrote. “It was done naively and it was totally inappropriate and culturally insensitive. We had a total ignorance of understanding … We are conducting an immediate internal review of our marketing processes … We have to educate ourselves … We have to learn and move forward in a whole new way and appropriate.
The video no longer exists on The Ivy Asia’s marketing channels. But the Chelsea restaurant, along with another in St. Paul’s, the first in Manchester, and a huge upcoming opening in Mayfair this year, are not going anywhere; the group is only getting bigger. A restaurant whose brand uses stereotypes, which fetishize people, cultures and foods and reduce them to a single catch-all descriptor will continue to exist, cook and greet customers believing these things are okay. Unless the internal review of the company’s marketing processes results in a major overhaul of the restaurants themselves.
Such stereotypes and flattenings are characterized by the “Zen stack” advertised in the video, a selection of largely Japanese dishes bearing an unrelated Buddhist title and grouped together. Much like Gordon Ramsay’s widely criticized ‘authentic Asian dining house’, picked indiscriminately in Japan, China and across East Asia, the Ivy Asia seems more concerned with enjoying Asian cultures than respecting the diversity and diversity of these. cultures and peoples.
Writer MiMi Aye was among the first to highlight the anti-Asian racism contained in the video.
Later, Observer Restaurant reviewer Jay Rayner was unequivocal in linking the video to the conditions that produced it. “The stragglers behind the dismal Ivy Asia Chelsea promotional video,” he said. wrote on Twitter, “decided that they were just naive and callous rather than, you know, all the way up to the armpits in premeditated racist stereotypes back and forth around the house.”
Eater contributor and Free time Journalist Angela Hui pointed out in a (now expired) Instagram story that no one had “put an end to it” which “once again proves how deeply rooted and normalized racism is in our society.” She added: “I can point out a million things wrong with this video of the tired eastern tropes police wonton and two Asian ladies being a ‘joke’ … The only thing that is a joke is the owner of the restaurant, its investors, any influencer, writer or critic who has promoted it … “
Elsewhere, Resy’s international editor-in-chief David Jay Paw wrote on Instagram over the weekend: “It is 2021 – Asian diaspora communities across the world have seen punitive spikes in violent racism against their communities. … To erect this hate crime of a “restaurant” and to share this heinous promotional video? Every detail, big and small, a decision that not a single person in their parent organization has rejected? “
In a year when racism and anti-Asian attacks have exacerbated disproportionate levels of discrimination against communities in East and Southeast Asia through the COVID-19 pandemic, cultural vandalism and profits from Most alarming is Caprice Holdings – and the corporate layers of ignorance therein -. And while future marketing campaigns may not trade in such overt caricatures and stereotypes, the three restaurants and counting, which exist on the same basis, have not been removed.
The Ivy Group press service only highlighted the statement posted on Instagram when asked to comment on the approval of the video internally.