I was looking for something to write about this week, but was coming up short in the funny department, not for any particular reason, but simply because the funniest thing that happened to me happened at work but it was one of those things that might be really embarrassing for the business and I don’t know who reads this. So I went back through my phone looking for inspiration and found this:
Me: What robot were you talking about when you sent me this?
Ken: (looks at text): I don’t know.
Me: How can you not know? Are you fandangling with robots every day?
Ken: I don’t know what that word means, and I think you made it up.
Me: Of course I made it up, KEN. But that doesn’t change the fact that some robot was giving you a hard time.
Ken: That’s what they do.
Me: That’s a stereotype.
And of course, I was then reminded (and please forgive the terrible and obvious segue that will allow me to get to the thing I really wanted to write about while at the same time having at least SOME sort of introduction) of a commercial that keeps coming up on my Youtube recommendations. It’s an ad for Ikea Kitchens and was very popular several years ago, which you may remember. In the commercial, a large Italian family has gotten together for dinner. Everyone is running around to the strains of “Mezza Voce”, trying to prepare the meal. Suddenly, a tiny grandmother dressed all in black appears, and tastes the spaghetti sauce. The music abruptly stops, as she yells “Tutti Fuore!” which means “Everyone Out!”, and the whole family scatters in fear as the music swells up and resumes. I guess they were making sh*tty spaghetti sauce or something, and she’s going to fix it with her magical Italian grandma powers. I don’t know a lot about Italian culture, but their grandmas seem pretty scary, according to Ikea, which seems to be doing a lot of heavy stereotyping in the commercial. And then I wondered how Ikea would portray other cultures in the kitchen, like, say, my own cultural backgrounds of English and Scottish…
A large Scottish family has gotten together for dinner. Everyone is having a wee dram, and sword-dancing to the strains of bagpipe music. Suddenly, a stocky grandmother dressed in the clan tartan appears. She peers into the oven. The bagpipes stop abruptly—well, they kind of just die off, like the last gasps of a large farm animal—as she announces, “The haggis is no done yet!” and slams shuts the oven door. Everyone sighs and there are mutters of “Thank God”, and “Pour me another dram, Jimmy.” Someone hands the grandma a tumbler of Scotch. She tosses it back, and the bagpipes resume, like a large farm animal which has been suddenly been revived.
A large English family has gotten together for dinner. Everyone is enjoying a nice cup of tea whilst singing “God Save the King” acapella. Suddenly, a bespectacled grandmother appears, wearing a cardigan and slippers. She peers into the oven. Everyone keeps singing until the song is finished, because you never leave a monarch hanging. Then they look expectantly at the grandmother, who says, “Dear me, the roast isn’t quite gray enough yet. And I believe those potatoes need to boil for at least another half an hour.” The family nods in agreement and there are calls of “Very well, then,” and “Cheerio”. Someone mutters, “Couldn’t we just order an Indian take-away?The grandmother looks stern and pours herself a small glass of sherry, as the group begins to sing “Jerusalem.”
Ikea: Swedish for common sense. And stereotypes. And robots. By the way, Ken finally remembered that the robot he was struggling with turned out to be the neighbour’s robotic cat litter box–it got stuck and he had to reset it while listening to it yell, “I’m from the future! Save me from these disgusting but adorable creatures that keep sh*tting in my mouth or I’ll bring my army of cyborgs down upon your head!”