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Air France geisha poster prompts satirical home-made fixes

By Philip Kendall

Air France has come under fire this week after its latest promotional ad campaign, which consists of a series of 18 photos featuring mostly Caucasian women dressed and made up to represent countries the airline serves, depicts Japan as the land of giant-haired geisha.

It’s hardly the most offensive ad ever – and it’s certainly better than ANA’s big-nosed white men commercial from earlier this year – but critics are calling for it to be pulled, with many suggesting that it is “stereotypically racist” and in poor taste. Fortunately, Internet users were on hand to “fix” Air France’s photos, and make them that little bit more Japanese.

“Air France, France is in the air is daring to be different to carry the ambitions of the Trans-form 2015 plan,” an Air France press release states. “The visuals, created by the Argentine photographers Sofia & Mauro, create an effect of surprise by mixing heritage and modernity, while echoing Air France’s past as a renowned poster specialist. Pleasure, youth and vitality emerge from images of the Moulin Rouge, the French Revolution, the Sun King, master chefs and haute couture.”

They’re stylish alright, and definitely eye-catching, but the photo depicting Japan – with that enormous headdress and steely eyed model – seems awfully cliché, not to mention rather outdated.

In response, activists asked Net users to create their own interpretations of Air France’s posters by providing them with the following template with which to get creative and starting off the #FIXEDIT4UAF hashtag.

At left and below is just a small selection of what netizens have come up with so far.

Did Air France genuinely slip up this time, or are people simply being a little too sensitive?

Sources: Huffington Post Japan, Air France

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Meet Les Romanesques: The most famous Japanese people in France -- C’est Si Bon! Enjoy a Taste of Gourmet France in Central Tokyo -- Onigiri in Paris: Small lunch shop brings traditional Japanese rice balls to France

© RocketNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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These Japanese netizens need to grow a thicker skin.

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

How do you know they were in Japan? They could have been French.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

These Japanese netizens need to grow a thicker skin.

Looks like they were just poking a little bit of fun at Air France to me.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Read the story and still can't understand what the fuss is about. Let's face it, anything, even as mild as this will have someone protesting.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This is not stereotype racist. It's clever, comical and fun. Love pokemons <3

3 ( +5 / -2 )

God, who cares...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Last time I returned tp Japan, one of the first posters I saw in Narita on being in Japan was a poster of a geisha surrounded by cherry blossoms, never mind it was summer time. It's the image the world expects to see in Japan, and I am sure that people are smart enough to know that not every person in Japan dresses like this, just like not every person in Holland wears wooden shoes.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

So if these people think white girl wearing Geisha clothing is racist, they would have a heart attack seeing the tourists dressing up like maiko in Kyoto.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Why is she holding an apple? LOL...

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

These Japanese netizens need to grow a thicker skin.

Like you, right? At least "they" have a sense of humour, which you apparently don't.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Does a geta feel funny when it's on the other foot?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They were not Japanese netizens... They were westerners, obviously.

Anyway, the obvious photoshop would be the hag from the Snow White, holding a poisoned apple.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Th criticism seems like it initially came on Twitter from an american activist/feminist called Jenn Fang (appropiate name), I believe. Obviously looking for her 15 minutes of airtime! Japanese netizens had nothing to do with this. I can assure you that any Japanese person I know would not find this offensive. In fact my Japanese husband rather liked it!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yes and no-- this is decidedly orientalistic crap on one level but the Japanese image is relatively benign. Look at the rest of the campaign of white ladies exoticizing and minstrelling the "other." This Jenn Fang you write of was angry about the portrayal of Chinese, not Japanese women: see for yourself at http://reappropriate.co/?p=5038

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't think it is the Japanese since the Japanese version is not aired in Japan for obvious reasons.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"At least "they" have a sense of humour, which you apparently don't."

Indeed, I should take a leaf out of your book. I just read an archive of your posts, and, man, they're all so madcap and zany.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

You're welcome.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

At least "they" have a sense of humour, which you apparently don't.

Where is the humour in this? Arty? Perhaps. Cultural? Sure. Humourous??? Care to explain?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Humourous??? Care to explain?

It's part of an internet culture which some people (yourself, apparently) just aren't the intended audience of. It's hard to explain, but it's kind of an "either you get it or you don't" thing. I think the pokemon one is pretty funny.

It should also be noted that these parodies were not made out of being offended, just people looking to capitalize on a...well, a pretty sub-par advertisement, and to get a few laughs.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just for fun. Should French people get upset each time Frenchman is represented with a "beret" and a "baguette" ? I don't think so. The only problem is that when you actually travel there, you are disappointed when you cannot see these icons.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well ANA did it....doesn't feel so good when someone makes fun of your culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the original add is nice... the apple I don't understand but it is nice

The "fixed" version though, pokemon? I am sure that more people (grownups I mean) outside Japan are more obsess with pokemon than in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


If you need it explained, maybe you join Jeffrey in the corner.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The "fixed" version though, pokemon? I am sure that more people (grownups I mean) outside Japan are more obsess with pokemon than in Japan.

I highly doubt that... When in Japan, you already have Pokemon planes.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )


Pokemon plains, trains and buses do exist, but think about this... it is to attract those household and family that have children who DO like Pokemon.

Is not directed to adults... I think you should know that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why is it "certainly" better than the ANA big nose ad? Seems almost the same.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Is this model a man? A geisha man? Equal opportunity?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

saying a European women dress in old Japanese style is racist is just as silly as say that Japanese girls that wear Lolita is racist cues they are dressed old European style XD

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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