Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let's just get over this 'offensive' Volkswagen ad, shall we?

Honestly, people just need to shut up about the Volkswagen ad being racist. Stereotypical? Yes. But it's not a negative stereotype. If Dave had been smoking a spliff, wearing one of those nasty fake Rasta hats and hanging off a coconut tree that suddenly materialised in the middle of the office floor, THAT would have been 'taking it too far.' We hanker for positive images of our country in the international media and this is a SUPERBOWL AD, meaning BAJILLIONS of eyes will see it, yet some of us choose to nit-pick because no-black-person-is-in-it-and-Jamaica-is-a-black-country. Really? Did you even do primary school social studies? Others argue that it makes us look too carefree. If people have an issue with that, they should also take the tourism marketers in hand, because this is the same image of us they sell to bring foreigners here. And are people really going to argue that Jamaicans aren't funny and lighthearted and positive? Whatever happened to 'tek kin teet kibba heartbun,' where even in the worst of situations, we crack a smile or a joke to get through?

My advice is GET OVER IT. One of our most talented national sons, Jimmy Cliff, is singing the song in the background. Jimmy Cliff is black, since that seems to matter so much (and yes, I passed social studies, so I know Jamaica is a PREDOMINANTLY black country. But a nuh black people alone bawn yah an awn yah.) This is a POSITIVE image of our country in the international media. No one is shooting anyone, no one is being scammed or harassed, so let's just be happy that when they thought of 'sunny disposition,' Jamaica was the first place that popped into their minds. Dave is just a guy who happens to be white, from Minnesota, spreading some positive vibes. Last I checked, that wasn't something to block roads and raise placards about.

Volkswagen America marketing officer Tim Mahoney has explained that VW did their homework: "We did some research to make sure that we weren't going into a direction we didn't want to go." Mahoney also stated that VW had consulted with "about a hundred" Jamaicans and included a speech coach on the commercial's set. That's "about a hundred Jamaicans" who GOT PAID, plus a Jamaican speech coach who GOT PAID, to help create a multi-million US dollar ad showcasing a German-made car, yes, but also a positive side of our country. In my opinion, we couldn't pay for this kind of publicity. In fact, in our current financial straits, we can't pay for a good goddamn, so let's just see the thing for what it is - an ad. Now, let's turn our attention to our tourism minister who should probably try to use this publicity/momentum to shore up some dollars. That would be a better use of time, I believe. 


  1. I don't know wat the opinions are on the ground in Jamaica, but here, the majority of those who claim to be offended aren't even Black, much less Jamaican. Just another case of America being the uber-sensitive, racialized society it is.

    1. Thanks for your comment Kim. I'm a born Jamaican living in Jamaica all my life, as Jamaican as it gets, and I am not offended in the least. Some people just choose to major in the minor too often.

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