A 1938 song by Louis Armstrong’s wife could put a hitch in GM’s China expansion plans

May 1, 2013
May 1, 2013

General Motors has pulled advertisements for its new Chevrolet Trax SUV because the soundtrack features racially insensitive references to China and other Asian countries, according to the South China Morning Post.

The ads feature Parov Stelar’s song “Booty Swing,” which in turn samples a 1938 song by Lil Hardin Armstrong—the second wife of Louis Armstrong—called “Oriental Swing.” The lyrics include references to China as “the land of Fu Manchu” where girls say “ching, ching, chop-suey, swing some more!” The song also references racial stereotypes of Arabs, Gypsies and Japanese.

It’s hardly the image that General Motors wanted to project as it announces big expansion plans in China. GM now sells more cars in China than it does in the United States, and plans to spend $11 billion on new Chinese production facilities and staff by 2016.

GM told the South China Morning Post that it has pulled the ad from airwaves in Canada, where it was shown throughout April, and will be removed from GM websites and YouTube channels.

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