Last week, a Mountain Dew ad created by Odd Future rapper Tyler, the Creator was pulled because of accusations that it pushed racial stereotypes. The ad features an injured white woman trying to identify her attacker among a lineup of all black men and a talking goat. Another issue with the ad was while all the “suspects” in the 60-second spot are black, all the cops portrayed in the ad are white.
The ensuing outrage over the ad was spearheaded by author and social commentary Dr. Boyce Watkins, who said in a blog post that it was “arguably the most racist commercial in history.” Mountain Dew, already in a tailspin because of the controversy surrounding Lil Wayne’s crude reference to Civil Rights icon Emmett Till in the song “Karate Chop”, quickly snatched the ad from circulation.
In an interview about the controversy, Tyler expressed disbelief that anyone thought he was portraying stereotypes in the ad. “I guess people are claiming that it’s racist, which … you know, that wasn’t even portrayed in that commercial, there’s no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all — which I’m confused by,” Tyler told Billboard. “But this older black dude, Dr. Boyce Watkins, I guess he found it racist because I was portraying stereotypes, which is ridiculous because, one, all of those dudes [in the line-up] are my friends.”
Since the controversy erupted, Dr. Watkins has backtracked a little on his initial comments. He told Tyler on Twitter, “Studied your music, I have an altered perspective. Still could do without the ad, but I think you were well-intended. #respect.” Nevertheless, Dr. Watkins told one of his followers that he doesn’t regret telling Mountain Dew to “get rid of that horrible ad.”
Reporting by Mara The Hip Hop Socialite