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SNL Doll Sketch: Straight Satire or Pushing Stereotypes?

Saturday Night Live has Asian Americans talking after a parody commercial for a fictitious product called, “Asian American Doll—the doll that’s Asian American,” a vacuous product borne of sensitivity trainings and focus groups. The skit skewered corporations for their extraordinary caution exercised when creating diverse dolls “from a place of fear,” pokes fun at the failures of “political correctness,” and nods to Asian-American consumers and activists who speak out about stereotyped portrayals.

“While I understand how some people are unhappy about the sketch since it mocks the so-called political correctness of Asian Americans,” says Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang, “On some level I think it demonstrates the evolution of our community. We are now getting parodied for speaking out rather than being silent!”

In the sketch, “Asian American doll” remains unnamed, for fear of offending anyone. A child in the commercial says she'd like to name the doll Kiko; the company voice in the commercial immediately responds, “Alright, but you did that, not us.” The doll is marketed as having "no academic strengths or weaknesses," no specific country of origin, (just "Asia"), and comes with her own dream house, devoid of any furnishings or decoration. When a child says she wants to put in an Oriental rug, the company snarks, “Your funeral.”

“I didn't find the sketch offensive, but I also didn't find it funny,” said 8Asians.com Editor-in-Chief and CEO Jocelyn “Joz” Wang, “Once it got going, I could see all the jokes and stereotypes before they came. Why so predictable, SNL? I guess it's too much to ask for SNL to do anything more nuanced.”

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