The controversy that erupted earlier this week surrounding a new advertisement promoting the release of the new ceramic white PSP model from Sony in the Netherlands has now drawn pointed comments from California Assemblyman Leland Yee.
The long-time anti-violent game advocate and politician, along with the San Jose/Silicon Valley chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has condemned the billboard advertisement, which is not running in the UK or North America, and from which pictures appeared online earlier this week.
According to a GamePolitics report
, Yee issued a formal statement regarding the Benelux-only advertisement, which features a white woman holding a black woman by the jaw and the tagline 'PlayStation Portable White is Coming'. Titled "Sony stoops to new low with racially charged ad", the statement expresses Lee's displeasure with Sony's decision to run the ad, though Sony has noted that the advertisements were simply designed in a way that would show contrast between the existing and new PSP colors.
"I am deeply disappointed in Sony's senseless decision to publish this racially-charged advertisement," noted Yee in his statement. "I can't begin to determine Sony's motivation but I believe this marketing strategy is unnecessary and is clearly offensive to many in our community."
He added: "Whether in the US or abroad, using differences in skin color to articulate the fact that your video game console now comes in white can be interpreted as insensitive at best and racist at worst."
In addition, Rick Callender, the chapter president of the NAACP has issued a similar response. "The days of blacks being portrayed in minstrel shows are long gone, and with good reason," commented Callender. "The minstrel show was an awful chapter in history and this ad smacks of that age and time. It is even further unacceptable that some corporations still think it is okay to use racially charged media images."
He concluded: "The latest Sony ad conjures up bad memories of when stereotypical and offensive images of people of color were accepted means of selling a product. Sony should immediately apologize and discontinue these archaic, advertising tactics."
This marks the second time
in recent months that Sony has come under fire for its PSP advertisements overseas. Recently Sony Computer Entertainment Europe was also called out for its PSP advertising campaign, which included a series of posters depicting phrases such as "Your girlfriend's white bits here" and "Take a running jump here" that were primarily placed in outdoor locations, as well as on billboards and buses. However, UK-Government backed Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) eventually opted not to uphold the 45 complaints filed against Sony for the campaign.