Is VW’s Superbowl Commercial Racist or Not? [See For Yourself]

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I’ve had the pleasure of having a diverse network and not a lot of shy people in that network. I’ve never been afraid of talking about race with any of my friends. Whether they are Black, white, or in-between, everyone always has something beneficial to add to the conversation. Among my friends, I’m typically the Black guy, (when I’m not saying “Damn, that’s wack), who folks come and ask uneasy questions about racism. For example, when my boy hits me up the other day to ask, “Hey Jay, do you think my Black coworkers will find it to be racist if I answer their questions about my birthday plans with, “All I want for my birthday is a big booty h**”?

I told him, I don’t think the guys will mind, but don’t say that ish to a sister.

Today, it hit the internet that Volkswagen is planning on airing a racially tense commercial on Sunday during the Super Bowl. I have to think that a lot of money went into their decision to run this commercial. I saw the commercial yesterday and this was the conversation I had with, The Guy:

The Guy: check my gchat status, that commercial will get mad love during this year’s super bowl!

me: that sh*t gonna get canned before the super bowl fam; it’s funny but you know black people are sensitive.

Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when it hit Twitter today that Black folks were up in arms about the way the video characterizes Black people, specifically, Caribbean people. I’m still very much on the fence about whether I think the video is racist or not. I think that while it’s racially motivated, I don’t find it to be insensitive or hateful. My policy is that if a joke comes from a good place, then it should be no foul. Moreover, if you find this offensive but think that Django is just fine and should be seen as comedy and nothing more, you can’t be trusted.

Take a look for yourself and let me know your thoughts.

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  • Kmetzaholic

    Maybe a spoof/ dig at the cliche of the laid back rasta Jamaican. Yeah, unhip white guys hauling in the accent. Silly. Not going to make me buy a VW.

  • http://twitter.com/EmElleWriter @EmElleWriter

    Black folks love to get sensitive over anything! Wind blows your hair out of place?? RACIST WIND!!

    Sure, it's stereotypical and the accent is whack.. but dude's selling smiles, rainbows and happiness… and cars. I'm more offended that the commercial is stupid than anything else.. and I still don't wanna buy a VW so.. they fail either way.

  • JupiterCalhoun

    Something I noticed: The "Chill, Winston" line reminds me of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, a Guy Ritchie movie.

    OBSERVE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7kme3GC9Gs

  • UmmYeahOK

    Black people need to get over this need to find racism in everything! Calling everything racist diminishes ACTUAL racism. Stop it! The commerical was meant to evoke the feeling of laid back happiness, that's what Jamaica represents. That's it.

  • Streetz

    yeah I think if anyone finds this racist theyre reaching. This commercial was hilarious!

  • Peyso

    This actually makes more fun of people who imitate caribbean culture than actual caribbean culture. Also, while most caribbean folk are black, some are not.

    • Tunde

      first time i met a jamacain chinese girl my mind was blown.
      My recent post The War on Christianity

    • Jayy

      You've got a point there. Not call Caribbeans are Black. Most of them are from a different ethnicity – like my family.

  • E.J.

    Calling this ad racist makes it more difficult to have the REAL conversations we should be having about incarceration rates, educational system failures, breakdown of the family unit, etc….

  • larnelw

    Only a racist person would find this racist. Why? Because that person is making the assumption that all Jamaicans are Black.

    • Dr. J

      The only thing I would say here is that they asked him where he was from and the dude said he was from New Jersey. If that was going to be a valid rebuttal then he would have to say he was from Jamaica and then no foul.

      Just my opinion, but then again I don't think it's racist at all. Just clarifying that one point in the video.

  • http://twitter.com/ToniAnn_L @ToniAnn_L

    As a Jamaican living in Jamaica (not that this gives my opinion more credence than the next person's)…I had no problems with the commercial. I've watched it quite a few times trying to understand why people are taking offence to it and still laugh every time. While there are certainly several offensive portrayals of Jamaicans in the media, I did not find this commercial to be one of them.

    Now…"turn di frown di odda way aroun'!"

  • Dr. Black Pepper

    this is legit. I was nervously awaiting something truly unkosher in the 'Minnesota' scene, but that never came. (twss)
    i don't think my parents would mind either, and they're much more jamaican than I and I.
    Rispek

  • parksideq

    As a Jamaican, I don’t think it’s racist (side note: white, Asian, and Indian Jamaicans do exist), but that accent was turrible, word to Barkley. I’m mainly upset that VW’s ad agency came up with such a lame concept when their ads are usually on point. My first and only car was a Jetta tho, so VW gets a pass this time, but no more lame ads, please and thanks.

  • Goddess

    ******************REMIX!!!***********
    Today, it hit the internet that Volkswagen is planning on airing a linguistically tense commercial on Sunday during the Super Bowl. I have to think that a lot of money went into their decision to run this commercial. I saw the commercial yesterday and this was the conversation I had with, The Guy:

    The Guy: check my gchat status, that commercial will get mad love during this year’s super bowl!

    me: that sh*t gonna get canned before the super bowl fam; it’s funny but you know linguists are sensitive.

    Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when it hit Twitter today that Linguists were up in arms about the way the video characterizes Accents, specifically, the Caribbean accent. I’m still very much on the fence about whether I think the video is linguistically appropriate or not. I think that while it’s linguistically motivated, I don’t find it to be insensitive or hateful.
    ******************REMIX!!!***********

    It is neither insensitive or done in poor taste. It is a commercial. There is so much more going on that this commercial is not a game changer. I watched it a number of times and laughed my arse off every time.
    signed,
    Girl With An Accent
    My recent post If you voted for Obama, you voted for change. If I wanted to…

  • Tunde

    i don't think its racist in the least bit. i would say its more insensitive than anything.
    My recent post The War on Christianity

  • Rosie

    I know some of you won’t like what I have to say but this is it.

    I serious don’t think black american have any right to say that an ad with white people mimicking Jamaicans is racist. It’s not your place to say as you are not Jamaican, plus the majority of Jamaicans find the ad to be funny, to the point where the ministry of tourism is planning to co-brand with Volkswagon. There are white, Indians, Asian and in between races in Jamaica so stating that the ad is racist is the same as saying everybody from Jamaica smoke weed without even knowing that it is illegal there as well. You sound stupid and ignorant, don’t speak for a nation which you have no idea of what things means to us. As the ad tried to demonstrate stuff like this wouldn’t bother us at all so why should it bother you. It’s not your accent which is being butchered, it isn’t your culture which is being portrayed so why do you care so much. Juss chill man!

    Signed: Proud Jamaican

    • Dr. J

      First, I would say that, as the author… freedom of speech is the order around these parts. Therefore, everyone has a right to say anything they well please. Second, when you're talking about injustice, any injustice against one people is an injustice against humanity. Honestly, how would you feel if nobody helped Jamaica out with their problems with poverty because we're not Jamaican? I guess, our Black American dollars should just stay the hell on this side of the pond. Don't divide and conquer yourself, "sister."

      That said, I definitely said I was on the fence. I don't think anyone was trying to speak for some people who can speak for themselves.

      Do they show CBS in Jamaica? Just wondering…

      • rosie

        Freedom of speech you say….therefore I am saying as I well please. You gave your views and so do I. Firstly, I have never received anything from a black american, "helping out" is a humane act but it doesn't allow you the right to make assumptions for that nation. What injustice are you talking about, where is the injustice? As I said black Americans should not assume, you have a racism issue don't assume Jamaicans do.
        Yes sir we have cable TV and internet too.
        PS. You seem to be offended by my comments, if you were on the fence why are you offended?

        • Dr. J

          I'm not in the least bit.

          I'm a moderator of this site. It's my responsibility to respond to comments that take away from the discussion and make people feel they don't have a right to speak freely.

          the reason why I raised the point of an injustice is because if that's how someone feels they should never feel that they should speak out on an issue because it doesn't affect them. If you disagree with that, then that's a perspective i've never heard and will never agree with. No reply needed on that.

          The fact that you say you have never received anything from a Black American who was helping out is telling of your ignorance. That is probably the most foolish thing i've heard all day. I'm not offended by anything you said, i'm shocked and I also discontinue any further discourse with you based on the level of ignorance in that statement.

          This conversation is over.
          (Again, no reply is needed.)

        • rosie

          OK, Mr. Moderator….I guess freedom of speech went through the door huh? Calling me ignorant won't change my views and saying I need not reply won't stop me from replying either. So Mr. Moderator are you going to block me now. I find you to be amusing, typical black american lol

        • Slim Jackson

          He won't block you. But I will. Be gone.
          My recent post Things You Should Know for an Interview

        • Poetic Justice

          "A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and won't change the subject." -Winston Churchill

          Discussion requires an open mind and mutual respect.- Poetic Justice

          "I find you to be amusing, typical black american…" <— Probably not the best thing to say when you want your opinions heard…ijs

  • Marie

    It's not racist; it's just a dumb commercial. I'm honestly tired of the so-called 'hilarious' white-guy-with-some-ridiculous-black-idiosyncrasy act. It's not funny, it never will be, and it never has been. But it's not necessarily racist.

    And to be honest, it's kind of disturbing that there are so many of you pinning anyone who IS offended by this (or anything else) as sensitive. Everyone has different standards. Just because YOU don't see it as offensive, doesn't mean someone else won't.

    As if other races need anymore untrue ammo to use against 'overly sensitive' black people, they'll just co-sign your words and feel justified because "even black people are saying it, so it must be true."

    • Southerngyrl_

      Agree with this statement more than any other. The 20 or so folks who replied don't speak for every Black person so….

  • Debbie
  • MissLia

    I agree, it's not racist. Other than the fact that dude was three minutes late lol, I didn't see any real connection to black people at all. There are white Jamaicans who speak with Jamaican accents, so it doesn't even make sense to consider this racist. I'm getting tired of seeing people jump up and down screaming about racism every time black culture is on the mainstage. I'm all for speaking out when it's necessary, but sometimes there's nothing to really talk about.

  • http://glippost.wordpress.com Darrk Gable

    I chuckled. It’s not super funny or dumb. Nor do I think it’s racist. VW took a stab at comedy and came up short. No harm, no foul.

  • mariah

    – __- ………this commercial was dumb and not funny at all. they should boot it just for that.

  • J.Crawford

    So, the song at the end was originally a Bob Marley song, and the message of the song is for People to "Get Happy"…….
    VW's commercial is that IF ppl buy their car, they will "get Happy"……..
    Happy=Marley, (A=B), buying VW car=Happy (C=A), so they "tried" to equate Marley and VW together (C=B) and to SOME they succeeded, to Many (who are Black/Jamaican) see it a Racist.
    Agree to Disagree. I thought it was Funny, not LMAO Funny, but Funny. Didn't think it was Racist either. Sorry but Not Really

  • http://www.OpinionatedMale.com Mr SoBo

    Nothing even remotely racially insensitive or offensive about the commercial that I could see. It was done quite well in that regard. Tasteful even. The concept is obvious. Purchasing Volkswagon will keep you in good spirits even if things around you aren't going well. Jamaica's long running theme, "No problem". Same thing.
    Besides, there are plenty of White Jamaicans. No harm, no foul.
    Not as humorous as it could have been, but not terrible either.
    My recent post Jamaican Me Crazy: Is This Accent Phony, Funny or Offensive?

  • Jayy

    Anybody who finds this racist is a moron. I can bet that most Jamaicans didn't find this racist at all – just may have found it amusing or that they're being stereotyped. But definitely not under the shadow of racism. Jamaica is an island that has heaps of people from a different ethnicity and believe me, I was insulted approximately a week ago, being called "Black" just because my family is from Jamaica. It's ridiculous, a native Jamaican will tell you that there are more than just Blacks who lives on that island, and far more people of a different ethnicity who make up the population as Blacks do, more than the population America has.

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