The commercial starts out heavy on the sex appeal, but that should shock no one, even if it is an ad for laundry detergent in China. However, within a few seconds, it becomes apparent that this may be one of the most racist commercials ever.
A young, beautiful Chinese woman is seen tossing delicate, lacy clothing into an open washing machine when a young, attractive black man who, by dint of the spotted paint on his face and clothing, has obviously been working, appears and lounges against the entryway. Apparently the sight of the young woman doing her laundry is more than the young man can take, so he gives a wolf whistle and an exaggerated wink.
It doesn’t seem to bother the young woman in the commercial, though, who motions him over in an obvious and overt “come-hither” way. The young man bites his lip in anticipation, saunters over, leans in for a seemingly welcome kiss…
And the young woman pops a detergent pod in his mouth and then stuffs him into the open washer. She then perches on top of the washer while the camera cuts away to a shot of the laundry detergent.
When the cycle is through, she opens the washer and out comes…
A young, handsome Chinese man.
Watch it in its entirety in the video below.
The overt and staggering racism present in the commercial isn’t even that original, CNN reports. It’s almost a complete rip-off of yet another offensive, earlier commercial — this one an Italian commercial — in which roles of desirability are flipped and a young, slender, very white man is washed with “color” detergent and emerges as a well-built, muscular black man with the stunning slogan, “Color is better.”
What is it about detergent that seems to bring out the worst in commercial writers?
Unfortunately, for China, racial insensitivity in commercials is an ongoing issue. The country underwent a lot of fire after the posters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens emerged and minimized the co-lead John Boyega, who is black. Boyega, a British actor, had literally been shrunk in size on the posters, and other non-white actors were missing entirely.
And the stigma of dark skin is also a wider problem present in other Asian countries. A Thai beauty company withdrew a commercial and issued an apology after it released a commercial that was stunningly racist, including the tagline, “Just by being white you will win.”
— CNN (@CNN) May 27, 2016
The product the commercial advertised was a pill that was supposed to keep a user’s skin light.
If none of that was racist enough for a commercial, the actress also added, “Eternally white, I am confident.”
The current laundry commercial, with its startling racist slant, is likewise garnering a lot of criticism online from both people within China and the wider world.
“My god,” wrote one user on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Don’t Chinese marketing people get any education about race?”
Apparently not, since this seems to be just one instance in a pattern of commercials that equate lightness with preference.
“If you don’t understand why it’s racist, congratulations, you’re a racist,” wrote another person in regards to weak defenses of the racist laundry commercial.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 27, 2016
The point that the laundry detergent cleans really well could have been made if the young woman had shoved the paint-splattered black man into the washer and he emerged with the exact same skin tone but spotlessly clean, but for some reason, the writers of this commercial decided to showcase the laundry detergent’s power by washing the actor’s blackness off and having him emerge as a young, obviously preferable (at least to the young lady) Chinese man.
And the commercial would have been a lot less offensive.
[Image via Shutterstock]