Is VW’s 2013 Super Bowl ad racist? Decide for yourself after you watch it below.
Media outlets are questioning whether or not the new VW Super Bowl ad is racist, with The New York Times‘ Charles Blow describing it as being “like blackface with voices.” So what’s wrong with it?
It portrays a random white guy who insists on speaking to everyone he comes into contact with in a Jamaican accent. The infectious affectation goes viral amongst his circle of friends and co-workers, and pretty soon, every white person in the ad is speaking in a mock-Jamaican accent.
Among the criticism afforded the VW ad, Wall Street Journal‘s Christopher John Farley said that the accent is a problem because it’s “coming out of people who seemingly weren’t supposed to be from Jamaica, so it was done as a joke.” He even called the VW ad the “Jar Jar Binks of 2013.”
You can’t really get much worse than that.
Unless of course you’re VW America marketing officer Tim Mahoney, who was charged with defending the controversial ad. He told Soledad O’Brien (who liked the ad) that they worked really hard on making sure those Jamaican accents sounded perfect.
“We actually talked to about 100 Jamaicans in the research, and we had a speech coach on site to make sure it was authentic as possible,” he said.
The implication being that if the ad were racist, any of the 100 Jamaicans you have on hard would raise a complaint about it. I get it, sure. But you can’t say “this ad isn’t racist because the accents are accurate,” because that’s not the issue!
But it’s on you to decide, dear reader. Watch the VW Super Bowl ad below. What do you think? Funny or racist?