Perceived Racism in American Ads
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." -MLK
Not a month seems to go by before we witness yet another outcry and condemnation of perceived racism in American advertisement. The latest episode of this politically correct mantra, which claims to find subtle racist and discriminatory messages hidden in TV ads, is one concerning the latest Heineken commercial.
In said commercial: a rather junkie looking italian bartender slides a heineken bottle down a bar to a rather beautiful looking woman. On its way to the woman, the beer passes multiple dark skinned individuals. Apparently, this is part of the reason for the outcry.
This is followed by the coincidentally clumsy catchphrase: “Sometimes, lighter is better.” Needless to say, a storm of politically correct Insanity ensued, with social media and pop icons howling that Heineken was putting forth a blatantly racist ad.
This is not the first time the we have been forced to witness the desperate wolf-cries of the politically correct. In the last months, Dove has been slammed for an ad depicting a Black woman taking off her shirt and transforming into a white woman, who peels away her shirt to unveil a hispanic woman underneath.
H&M has likewise been targeted by critics, some whom thought it best to break into and destroy some of the clothing giant’s store locations. They were protesting a picture of a black child in a sweatshirt inscribed with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” the company posted on its website.
In all cases, the accused companies pulled their ads and issued apologies almost immediately after the brouhahas ensued, not wishing to offend the social justice institution and fearing its grand and delusional accusations.
This is nonsense. There is no doubt that racism is a persistent problem in the US, and that every step must be taken in order to hasten its demise. But howling discrimination at every turn does little to that end, and rather sucks all meaning out the word upon which we shall need to depend in order to triumph over it. If this term comes to lose all its meaning through overuse, the fight against discrimination shall be that much more poorer for it.
To the accusers, I ask: Do you find it honestly plausible that, these ads were created specifically to purvey a racist message in present day America, where hatred of discrimination has never been so loudly voiced and so widely covered by the media? Surely, Dove, H&M and Heineken, capitalist behemoths, must have known that even the slightest whiff of discrimination in their ads would hurt their sales, reputation, and their profits?
Is it not more more reasonable, and perhaps more rational, to say that the hyper-loaded racial rhetoric in our society, and the almost wannabe victimization of some people looking to find racism where it is not, have undertaken a ghost hunt under the usurped banner of equality?
In the case of the Dove ad: Is actually Dove secretly attempting to convey anti-black (or anti-white) discrimination, while pushing a pro-Hispanic agenda? Or have individuals become slightly over-sensitive on the topic of race? The answer seems obvious.
The H&M ad however, does not get granted the same reprieve. While I reject the accusation of intentional racism, I do not stutter at recognizing the obvious clumsiness of the ad. Is it possible that no one in H&M’s corporate hierarchy noticed the repugnant historical echoes that equated black people to monkeys? Really, i would think anyone with a properly functioning head would have thought that this was maybe going to cause some uproar. But was this is a willing racist provocation? I suspect not, especially since the mother of the boy in the shot came out in defense of H&M. She hoped people would appreciate the opportunity this major international brand gave her young child rather than blaming them for wanting to incite a scandal.
As far as Heineken goes...I first heard of the outrage before actually seeing the ad for myself, and I had to watch it repeatedly before comprehending what people interpreted as racist. As the beer slides down the bar, it passes by a variety of people of all colors. The two women and male musician, whom by the way, is playing Reggae during the ad, are all painfully good looking.
As for “lighter is better,” yes, it’s coincidentally brow-raising, but for the rational mind, undoubtedly requires first knowledge of this outrage before ever being interpreted itself as discriminatory.
Sadly, racism of all kinds still exists in America. Sadlier, research into the psychology of discrimination seems to point at it being part of human nature and not about to disappear anytime soon. That does however not mean that it should be tolerated. Rather, anyone considering him or herself to be a moral human being should actively work to destroy any doctrine promoting racial separation of any kind. As well as working to humiliate and silence the enforcers of said doctrine.
But repeatedly overreacting is counterproductive. It devalues the word “racist,” rendering it a less effective weapon against those guilty of it. It disrespects the struggle against racism and its victims. Equating the indignities of Jim Crow with insensitive ads disrespects the victims of the former, and wrongly elevates those who are “offended” by the latter.