Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Acura Embarrassed By "Not Too Dark" Casting Revelation In Seinfeld Ad

While I think it is reasonable, in casting, to seek specific actor attributes, requesting an "African-American" that is "not too dark" should have seemed a bit over the line, I think. Darkness, as used here, would seem to connote a negative attribute working against the desired positive representation of Acura - at least in someone's view. The lame excuse of 'lighting issues' makes the screw-up worse.

The actual casting document is an interesting read, and unambiguous. So what do you think?

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

So this is different than asking for a blond instead of brunette? In asking for a "Mediterranean" type to play the "sexy" guy? These are stereotypes. Certain phenotypes fit popular image and sell product. I always have to smile at certain commercials, because I know the negative character in them can never be a black man, it is considered taboo and "racist."

The advertisers seek a certain phenotype because it must mean something to the people they are targeting, consciously or unconsciously.

I also think extreme racial phenotypes aren't what Americans want to see anymore, anyway. We like the mixed look, the half-and-half. Extreme Asian, Caucasian or African phenotypes are not attractive to the majority, or so it seems. Blond very light white men are out, very Nordic looking women or white freckled red-heads are out; very Asian looking people (small frame and features, extreme epicanthic fold) are out, and very dark black skin and very African features are out when it comes to ads. Or so it seems to me.

Considering American history, asking for a "not too dark" black person would probably be embarrassing if it were made public. It's not PC. I don't know if I would have put it in the audition information because of people's sensitivities to the "light/dark" issue; I would have just chosen a light skinned guy if that's what I was looking for.

Paul Hays said...

...another perspective, perhaps: agencies currently are all looking for "Obama-colored" persons of color. They are just pulling from the 2008 election demographic about who voted for Obama. The belief is probably fairly well founded and oft repeated; have you noticed the average color of the persons of color in U.S. television programs and commercials? Embarassing? Prolly not. Not PC? Who cares. Just liberal minded media folk trying to be capitalists...