This ad from the Popchips website and Facebook page has been pulled after an outcry about its “racist” content.
Among the offended was tech entrepreneur Anil Dash, who called it “a hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being that he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice. That’s it, there’s seriously no other gag.”
“if you find yourself putting brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent in order to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course. Make some different decisions.”
Popchips CEO Keith Belling pulled the ad and issued a statement saying, “We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”
Dash blogged again, this one titled “How to Fix Popchip’s Racist Ad Campaign”, writing, “I just got off the phone with Popchips founder Keith Belling, who was sincere and contrite as he offered a thoughtful, apologetic response.” But he suggests Popchip leave the ad up with an explanation as to how the ad failed, and why the end result turned out to be racist.
This is the equivalent of rubbing a dog’s face in poop to house break it. Beiling apologized and took the ad down. He is an adult and Dash is not his parent. He did what is appropriate when two adults have a differing opinion and one is offended. He apologized and wants to move on. Instead, Dash wants his company to be branded with a big letter “R” until he learns his lesson.
He doesn’t stop there. He wants the firm that created the ad, Zambezi, to all get together in a video and talk about how what they did was bad. Very bad. Very, very bad Zambezi.
He admonishes the media, pointing out specific writers in the New York Times and Washington Post, for not talking about how “obviously offensive” the ad was: “it’s astounding that this wouldn’t be obvious on first glance to those who are paid to understand media and culture.”
Maybe they didn’t find it all that offensive… Sure it wasn’t all that funny. Sure there are lots of people out there that are a lot better at impressions. But to call it “racist” cheapens the word and the abhorrent philosophy it conveys.
Comedians often pull from so-called “racist” stereotypes for humor. Mike Myers did a whole movie lampooning Indian stereotypes in The Love Guru and much of his other work makes fun of various races and nationalities. Countless others including Eddie Murphy, Robert Downey Jr, Dave Chappelle and the Wayan’s brothers have donned skin make-up and attire to make fun of racial stereotypes and it isn’t considered racist.