Thursday, May 23, 2013

11151: Why Ask, “Is It Racist?”

Gitamba Saila-Ngita, Founder and Chief Innovation Strategist of Deft Collective, posted a perspective at AgencySpy titled, “Is it Racist?” So far, the piece has drawn few responses. Don’t expect much more. AgencySpy is hardly the pulpit for smart commentary. The site is TED for the intellectually challenged. Additionally, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has already noted our nation of cowards is reluctant to engage in race-related dialogue—and Madison Avenue may be the most cowardly place in the country.

While contemplating the recent Mtn Dew campaign, Saila-Ngita wrote:

So, is it racist? No. It’s not. But it’s pretty offensive to some folks; I’ll give you that. But for an ad clearly meant for [a] demographic of folks who listen to Odd Future & Tyler The Creator, the creative is on point. Should the offended folks even have been watching these ads? That’s a topic for another post.

MultiCultClassics begs to differ with Saila-Ngita on some points.

First, no one can declare whether or not something is racist. As always, everyone is entitled to their own opinions—which are usually based on personal experiences and perspectives. If you think it’s racist, it’s racist.

Saila-Ngita appears to take the standard stance that the work was not racist partly because it was conceived and crafted by Tyler the Creator. Problem is, the message didn’t come from Tyler the Creator; rather, it came from Mtn Dew and parent company PepsiCo. Big difference. BTW, remember when Mountain Dew commercials featured Willy the Hillbilly? Perhaps integrating Tyler the Creator should be viewed as a sign of progress.

Saila-Ngita also seems to state the ads were intended for a specific audience and folks outside of said audience probably shouldn’t even have been watching. Um, it’s quite possible that many of the offended never viewed the videos at all. Is it necessary to witness an event to feel outrage? Does not being the intended target invalidate the insult? Sorry, but until somebody finds a way to exclusively and accurately aim spots at specific individuals, advertisers must show respect to the general population. It’s just a matter of responsibility and common courtesy.

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