Friday, February 13, 2004

I'm certainly upset!

Forget John Kerry's hot pants! Check out something really important - Greeting card picture evokes race stereotype:
American Greetings Corp. calls it a regrettable printing error.

Somehow, boxes of SpongeBob SquarePants Valentine's Day cards are popping up in local Wal-Mart stores -- but the popular cartoon character found inside isn't his traditional yellow color.

He's black. And with his trademark big teeth and wide eyes, this SpongeBob seems similar to offensive images of African Americans portrayed in minstrel shows decades ago.
There's a picture in the article and what it mostly looks like is a printing error. You can compare it with the "real" SpongeBob here.
American Greetings officials said Thursday they were surprised and puzzled when the Free Press made them aware of a complaint about the product.

"We absolutely fell out of our chairs when we saw it," said Carol Miller, director of business development for the Cleveland-based company. "We're obviously going to be talking to Wal-Mart as well as Nickelodeon . . . to offer our sincere apologies for this product making it to market."

Miller said the cards, which were printed and packaged in China, are mistakes, but she and other officials said they were trying to determine how that happened.

David Blinderman, director of global product development for the company, said the printing facility is one of the company's most reliable.

"Culturally, the guys on press in China wouldn't have the faintest idea of who a SpongeBob was or who a black SpongeBob was," Blinderman said.
They probably don't have too firm a grasp on valentines either.

But as you might expect, you can find someone who's all upset:
Jemeka Garcia of Flint Township was skeptical of a mistake, in part because the cards appear to be well made. Garcia and her husband, Scott, complained to the Free Press earlier this week after their 6-year-old daughter discovered the different SpongeBob. The family purchased the cards at a Wal-Mart near their home so the girl could hand them out to her first-grade classmates.

"I want to know why the person did it," Jemeka Garcia said Thursday. "That's kind of a horrible prank. And what if some kid gets it" as a valentine?
You caught 'em red-handed, Jemeka - it's the Chinese branch of the VRWC!

But not everyone has donned their tinfoil beanies:
A Wal-Mart official said customers who want refunds can have them, but there were no plans to take the boxes off shelves. "It was a very popular item, and there aren't very many left out there," said corporate spokeswoman Danette Thompson. She said the company had received no other complaints.
Well, at least no one mentioned lawsuit, but then Jesse Jackson probably hasn't heard about it yet. And congratulations to the Detroit Free Press on their news judgement.