An open letter to Hasbro and Fun Publications
I've sent this to Hasbro and Fun Publications PR contacts, under the subject "Unprofessional comments made at this year's Botcon".
This past Saturday, Brian Savage, head of Fun Publications, performed a stereotypical impression, mocking his Chinese manufacturing partners during a BotCon panel. There were a couple of notes about this on Twitter, which I’m linking to at the end of this email.
I myself am not Asian, but I am a person of color. Along with friends of mine of Chinese descent, I found Mr. Savage's actions to be racially insensitive, as well as deeply unprofessional. While there may very well be a language barrier between the management of Fun Publications and the manufacturing contacts in China, this is not a problem unique to Fun Publications. As a representative for ASM, TFU.info, and the TFWiki at multiple Hunter PR-run events, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to hear what people representing Hasbro’s brands have to say. None of those events have had any example of such appalling behavior. If anything, quite the opposite: Hasbro's PR events have been exemplary, while this is one of many noted missteps at Botcon itself.
Simply put, associating any issues with a product attached to the Transformers brand with the language or nationality of the manufacturer brings strong racist connotations, whether intentional or not. This is unacceptable. The “broken English” stereotype contributes to workplace discrimination, as candidates are passed up for work based on a false expectation that one’s ethnicity has any bearing on their ability to communicate, their demeanor in the workplace, or their very competence. It undermines efforts made towards racial equality, and fosters an environment where such discrimination is acceptable.
I find this especially problematic with the global impact of the Transformers brand: Hasbro works in conjunction with a Japanese company for toy design, with Chinese manufacturers for the actual toy production, and has film partnerships in China for the upcoming Transformers: Age Of Extinction movie.
Since this has been part of a pattern of offensive comments being made at Botcon, I have cancelled my Official Transformers Collector’s Club membership renewal. In good conscience, I can no longer purchase products or register for another BotCon as long as Fun Publications is involved, nor can I remain quiet about this. Brian Savage’s words at a panel for what is called an Official convention reflects poorly on him, on Fun Publications, and by extension, it reflects poorly on Hasbro.
As stated, here are the links to the independent mentions of the original impression. It certainly merits further exploration, and should not be tolerated. I hope that Hasbro will make a statement regarding this issue, if one hasn’t been made already.