razr advertisement

This advertisement for Motorola’s “Razr2” was produced in the mid-2000s and featured in a variety of publications, including major national magazines like Newsweek. With the phone being billed as “Sharper than ever”, the advertisement features an young Asian female, dressed in tight leather clothing, wielding a sharp mobile phone in her right hand (in the place of what otherwise would be assumed to be a knife). Her ninja-like appearance is intentionally exotic, sexualized and dangerous.


Imagine that this ad was created in the exact same way, but instead of an Asian model, the model was white. Would it change the message of the ad? Would it make sense at all? Why or why not?

What are the historical reasons that Asians are often featured with “ninja-like” qualities in American media?

Critique: This ad can be seen as perpetuating a number of problematic “Orientalist” stereotypes on account of the sexualized, exoticized, and potentially violent characteristics of the model. It can be seen as playing off of a history of Asian stereotypes in the media that narrow the American public’s conception of what Asian femininity entails, and continue to suggest that Asians are essentially “the other” in comparison with mainstream white America.

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