Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top Five Racist/Stereotypical Commercials on TV

5. Tide
Have you seen the latest Tide commercial where a “sassy black woman” is sitting on a bench getting very annoyed with being told she can’t wear white jeans after Labor Day? She actually gets up, starts with the neck swivel and the hand, and says she’ll do whatever she wants because Tide will keep her jeans white, “Not white-ish, not eggshell, and not ecru, whatever that is.” (Um, Tide we do know what ecru is.)

I hate this commercial. Not only for the fact the chick’s hair isn’t even done, but all this attitude is such a stereotype of black women. And over some white jeans? Really? I NEVER see white people, or ANY other community of people portrayed this way in Tide commercials. EVER. Tide, get it together.

4. Sears
In this commercial a young white couple with a baby is looking at a house for sale and worry about buying new appliances. All of a sudden the phone (in the sink) rings and it’s a slick black guy giving them the hard sell on why they should shop at Sears. It appears as if he’s either talking down to the couple or reassuring them that he’s no dumb Negro by saying, “It’s raining cold hard facts up in here.” Ugh!

It’s not necessary to consistently portray black men as being overly confident to the point of being obnoxious and illiterate. Sears, there are many, many intelligent black men who are quite capable of making a solid point using the "King’s English" and without resorting to Ebonics. Find one.

3. State Farm 

You know the commercial where the dark skinned black woman with short hair is “fussing” with her boyfriend about how he parked the car, and going over the top like some contemporary Amos and Andy “Sapphire”? She then wishes for a new boyfriend and gets a muscled up brotha. Then the dark skinned boyfriend wishes for a new girlfriend and gets light skinned, weaved up model Selita Ebanks. I don’t like this.

There are too many reasons, but one is that the implication is that dark skinned women are shrewish and undesirable because the brotha’s ideal woman is a light “skin-ded” beauty with horse hair trailing down her back. And you notice how the dialogue changed because the dark skinned woman who changes into Selita Ebanks used to say, “So this is what you like?”, implying he prefers a more stereotypically beautiful black woman. But now the commercial has her saying, “Chang me back.” Yeah someone at the State Farm ad agency realized the negative racial tones as well. Too bad they didn’t just scrap the entire commercial and start from scratch.

2. Popeye’s 

Ugh, I know having this black woman, “Annie” talk about how good Popeye’s chicken is meant to reinforce authenticity, but it most definitely raises my eyebrows when I see some black woman acting like the Queen of Chicken. Is this necessary? No, I’ll eat Popeye’s (particularly the biscuits) without being convinced by a modern day Mammy that the chicken is really good. Popeye’s is apparently proud of the ad and doesn’t see the racist undertones, but I do.

I feel as if these Popeye’s ads reinforce a stereotype that black people are chicken experts; like we all have a degree in fried chicken! Yes, black people eat chicken, but so do a lot of other people. And a lot of other people eat Popeye’s chicken. I understand that Popeye’s is supposed to emulate Louisiana cuisine, and Louisiana has a heavy black population. But with that in mind, please find a way to represent the people and the Louisiana culture in a way that does not invoke ancient stereotypes.

1. McDonalds-Pineapple Mango Smoothie
First of all why can’t black and white people be in the same McDonald’s at the same time? Why do we always get out our little special commercial full of stereotypes like the one where the hand holding the chicken McNugget becomes some simulated fool flying through the air Jordan style dunking into sauce?

But this latest commercial with the rapper on stage coaxing the crowd to participate in a call and response routine over some pineapple mango smoothies (“When I say pineapple you say mango!”), is just insulting to our intelligence and our culture. McDonald’s we don’t all rap, we don’t all dunk and we don’t need to be spoken to as if we can only relate to your product if it’s laced with Hip Hop lexicon. Mickey D’s I kinda hate you for that one.

Honorable Mentions

Pull Ups 

Remember that horrendous commercial with that black man who did the “Potty Dance”? That was black degradation to the tenth power. Having a grown man rap about the potty? Really? I went to the Luvs website and there were MANY complaints about this modern day Bo Jangles. I would rather watch that idiotic/disgusting cartoon commercial by Luvs with the babies compete to see who can take the biggest dump in their diapers. Well, maybe not. 

Pine Sol
Okay the demeanor of the Pine Sol lady has gotten better. She’s less “honey child” and a tad more sophisticated now. But the visual of seeing a big black woman burst into a room talking about cleaning somebody’s floors is still cringe worthy. Now I notice she doesn’t really clean floors anymore.

Remember that commercial where they portrayed her sexually and had some muscle bound Mandingo hunk cleaning the floor? Though brotha was fine, this is also a disturbing image, as they’ve traded Mammy for Mandingo. Personally I don’t really like Pine Sol, but I like the images it stirs up even less.

This is my list of the most racially irritating commercials. Do you have one I missed? What do you think about companies’ approach to reaching black consumers?


Liliangrae said...

I am so with you on the TIDE commercial. When I saw that commercial I almost leaped out of my skin. That commerical is so out of character with the other TIDE commericals, why does the black woman always have to be the "neck swinging, sassy" woman! Ugh. Not feeing the Popeye's spokesperson either. Black people aren't the only ones who know how to cook fried chicken... Great post. It made me laugh, but the sad part is it really isn't funny. People aborb the images and implications of these commercials and that is really just sad. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you for the most part, especially the Tide and State Farm commercials. I think that perhaps you're a bit overly sensitive on some of the others.

Anonymous said...

Why is it when there is a White guy and a Black guy in a TV ad, the white is portrayed as a wimp, clueless, scared, craven,manipulative and the brutha or (sista) is shown as as sassy, in the know, a pedagog, A la Maya Angelou. Oh, and in defiance of reality, Whites are portrayed as burglars and potential rapist as well. I saw a Geico commercial in which the white caveman acted hysterical in a cheerleader outfit while whining to a mandingo brother football player. really sickening, but very common and not considered racist if butt of joke is a White male.

Anonymous said...

GURL - Ize feeelin' dis artikul - uh-huh, oh yeah! Can I git a WHOOTWHOOT!

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? That's because it is!

Hopefully manufacturers will see intelligent, thought-provoking blogs like yours and at least consider making some changes. Stereotypes alienate consumers rather than allow us to identify with the product offered.

I LOATHE the Tide commercial, BTW. That ad convinced me not to ever buy Tide again and to discourage everyone else I know not to. When they ask why not, I direct them to that ignorant, ridiculous ad.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one im not black but the one i noticed the most is Sears wtf why does he have to say the stereotypical things. I hate there is almost 0 interracial couples in commercials and if there is its Black and Hispanic

JourneytomyRoots said...

PREACH!!!! I wrote a blog on this a few months back too. These damn minstrel antics need to stop!

kikitin said...

Not to upset the "this doesn't define me" tone of most of the responses, but I'm not totally onboard. The Pine Sol, Popeyes and even the Sears commercial needed to have someone on the approval panel who attended sensitivity training. The other's I don't have a so much of a problem with. For instance, I get the message of the Tide commercial. To me, that spot is about confidence without pretentiousness -"...whatever that is." I suppose, if I had wanted to aim that remark at Black people, I could have said it this way: "...about confidence and not being bourgeois -whatever that is." (my apologies for the obvious offense in trying to make a point, which is this: by using the word(s) correctly (bourgeois is aruguable I know) it shows that I, like the woman in the commercial actually know what the word means - duh) I guess I'm a bit irritated that (in the Tide commercial for example) people pointed to such things as the woman's hair and that fact that she used body language to convey attitude. I personally thought it showed a confident, selfmade, not-going-to-be-told-what-is-proper woman of today. I appreciate what is being said here however, and think that more discussion on the topic is definitely needed.

Anonymous said...

The author of the article is
1) dumb as a rock
2) clearly racist