Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Was Pepsi Out of Bounds?



I missed this Superbowl commercial, but found the replay disturbing. Thoughts?

James C. Collier

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26 comments:

pedro gringo said...

Why disturbing?

James C. Collier said...

Well.., violence, threats, lechery, hoochie strutting in front of the child...

pedro gringo said...

It was playful. The modern American family (black or not) often involves a woman, her kid, and their search for a male. I see no reason that the advertisements of our country can't depict life as it is lived.

That the son was defending his mother's honor is sweet. Somebody has to do it, right?

Let me ask you, would you find it "disturbing" if it were a red neck family? Guy with a Republican goatee, woman missing a tooth and kid with a mullet?

Gary said...

Maybe this is off-topic, but I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts around the idea that portraying a stereotype is racist. I assume that's what your "racism" label refers to. On the one hand, there's no explicit message that "black people act like this" (only "these people act like this"), and if stereotypes were off-limits, characters would end up being quite unrealistic. On the other hand, it can certainly be argued that stereotypical portrayals encourage the stereotype (but how much responsibility does the author/filmmaker/etc have, compared to the viewer?).

Any thoughts? I assume you've been down this path many times before.

James C. Collier said...

I do not find it 'cute' that a child, of any color, might feel the need to go to such protective lengths, or for viewers to be asked to believe that a man who would leer in full view of the boy would, in turn, willingly allow that child to strike him w/o physical reprisal. Your cute protector is my battered/dead child.

Pedro said...

Ah, I see our point of disagreement:

"Your cute protector is my battered/dead child."

I'm not a fan of hyperbole. The truth of the single mother in real life is much worse than the commercial suggested. Sometimes I go to Wal Mart. I always leave with the feeling that we're minutes away from complete social breakdown. Though I did just spend a decade in East Asia.

If anything, the ad is objectionable for normalizing what is an unwelcome social development (men not tending to their fatherly duties).

Then again, I'm a traditionalist. If I put a think into that commercial I don't see a potentially dead kid, I see the sadness of a kid who feels as if he has to protect his protector.

Anyways, we're not going to agree. I enjoy your site. Keep it up.

James C. Collier said...

Dressing up the triggers to bad endings, w/o actually showing us what can happen, is de-sensitizing and paves the way to the reality (IMHO). And be careful out there.

Truth Hurts said...

This commercial is not cute, it's dumb, and would never be made with a white kid.
For some reason, it is considered "cute" to portray black kids as "badasses", not so with non-black kids. In fact, if the participants had all been white, most folks would scratch their head and say "I don't get it".

Sandy Gholston said...

Nothing wrong with the commercial at all IMO. I think this is a manufactured controversy. Some people see something sinister (a violent kid or whatever) and some others see a kid who is protective of a mom he loves with a little humor mixed in with the Doritos.

Anonymous said...

This commercial is disgusting and disturbing ... it is a sad commentary on American culture and values. It's depressing.

Jael

Marcus said...

I think the commercial could have done without the slap. The threats were meant to be cute and would have had more success without the slap. Though I see your point, I can never censor "hoochie strutting".

Sandy Gholston said...

Marcus,

I agree about the slap. That was the only thing I found a little forced and out of place. The slapped seemed a bit much.

Anonymous said...

I would think you could sell more Doritos if you showed the child sharing them instead of promoting the cartoonish sexual/violent/selfish angle.

James C. Collier said...

Gary, some might think Pepsi racially insensitive to portray such violence between blacks, as one commenter suggested. This was not my point, but the proximity of the stereotype and reality make the comment reasonable. Statistically, Blacks are more violent than other groups (corporally, in the home, and criminally), although it is taboo to say (but OK to show).

Anonymous said...

There are too many stereotypes at play to pick on just one, the violence of the slap. Adults acting as juveniles when they have proof of adult responsibilities around them is constantly played on all over the media, not just in this racial context. That a child would be expected to be the only one with "boundary-issues" and would resort to a violent means to garner attention to illicit the boundary-crossing infraction is also an social assumption. That behavior and identity does not occur in a vacuum. There is a commerical with a cute little white girl walking into a kitchen and demanding her mother not to serve "Minced" fish sticks. Does that mean that there is a racial stereotype that white children are more demanding than other children; that a white mother is remiss to serve inferior "minced" fish products to her child rather than a product cut from fillets? Cute kids grab attention, period. If it was found out that the person(s) behind the writing and directing of the commerical were black make the commerical less disturbing or more so?
Maybe the commerical was designed to generate the discussion, rather than to sell the chips.

ronnie brown said...

Mr. Collier, first off, i enjoy your blog and i believe you are trying to provoke thought and provide some clarity on important issues concerning Black folk...but, i am troubled by your use of that double edged sword called "statistics"..."Blacks are more violent than other groups(corporally, in the home and criminally)...now, you provide no qualifers, but you expect this statement to be taken on faith...Black people are the only people who use corporal punishment in a nation where "spare the rod, spoil the child" is a national mantra???...Our historical second class status through slavery/segregation was reinforced through violence and murder...but we are the primary purveyors of violence?...you claim it's "taboo" say, but you are the only with the balls to bring it out into the open...i don't know you, but it just seems like you like to wield those stats with a lot more glee than i'm comfortable with...what are your motives regarding your use of this particular stat?

James C. Collier said...

Ronnie, I do not agree with codifying stereotypes, such as having a little boy face-slap a grown man with force, to illustrate brand commitment. However, I understand (and won't ignore) the slippery slope upon which the filmmaker operates - one where black families practice corporal punishment at higher rates (see "Externalizing Behavior Problems and Discipline Revisited: Nonlinear Effects and Variation by Culture, Context and Gender", Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 3 (1997), pp. 161-175.) FTR, I wield no statistic with glee, but rather not to delude myself or others. Thanks.

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

For folks who see no problem with this commerical,then I say you really have drank the kool-aid that is sold to black people in this country1

Anonymous said...

People are really good at intellectualizing anything and everything, but the fact is, that commercial is completely fucked up.
I see your point, Anonymous, but commercials aren't designed to foster discussion...they're designed to sell a product.
And I wouldn't be surprised if black folks came up with that commercial...in fact, I'd bet they did.

Sandy Gholston said...

This is a commercial to sell a product as another poster mentioned. That's all it is ... a method of selling a product. No racism at all in this commercial. We should be careful chasing down racism and manufacturing it where it doesn't exist. When people talking about these stereotypes it supposedly perpetuates I think their own bias is coming out and being sort of projected on the commercial. As black people, we need to stop seeing ourselves in such a negative light. I bet no one has a problem with beer commercials of white guys picking their beer over their girlfriend or seeing that as a stereotype of white guys.

janettadoughton said...

It is what is is. Don't think too disturbing. Kinda funny actually...

Anonymous said...

I think it wouldn't be made of a white kid anyway---its sad but everybody other group KNOWS that black american familys are in a bad state--its also sad that images can get into the subconsious mind We blacks should watch and look out for our own image. Even some conservative white commentators thought it was sad..

Reggie said...

Personally, I didn't care for the commercial or the stereotype that it implied.

Dynamite Soul said...

If a teacher called and told me that my child face-slapped a man because of something that man did or said, I would have been upset.

Violence is not okay, and they could have thought of a better way for the child to get his message across.

Lastly, I have no doubt that the person behind the commercial is Black. This could have actually happened to that person. Doesn't matter. It made me uncomfortable and I failed to laugh.

The_Editrix said...

I fail to see the racist aspect, because I am a (by definition white) European living in a predominatly white society. I understand that it may convey a different message to Americans, but whatever. My view on this would be the same if all participants were white.

Does nobody see the frightening misandry in this? Imagine a child slapping the date of his father -- a woman. How "cute" or "funny" would be that? Men are fair game in our society. They deserve any ridicule they get because they are ... male. Does nobody see how much that permeates our entire Western culture?

Anonymous said...

I propose an humorous image boundary test. Check this out. Do you think a scene such as presented in this commercial WOULD EVER have appeared in any episode of the Cosby Show? Nuff said....