In a piece for Slate‘s culture blog, Aisha Harris argues that the controversial pulled spot in which Mary J. Blige sings about fried chicken wraps is embarrassing, but for reasons that have nothing to do with racial stereotypes.
It is short-sighted — and frankly, insulting to Blige — to attribute the Burger King spot to “coonery.” Burger King has been honing its cheesy advertising chops for years, most famously with their creepy corporeal version of the “King”; Blige is clearly in on the camp factor of the commercial. And other recent ads have far surpassed this one in ignorantly deploying racial stereotypes.
So why the uproar this time? Perhaps the answer has to do with the ad’s intended audience. Unlike the many fast-food commercials aimed specifically at black audiences, usually found on black-targeted networks like BET, the Blige ad features a mostly white supporting cast. It is meant to appeal to a “mainstream” (read: white) audience; some of the ad’s critics seem worried about the way it might make black people look to white people.
Consider this McDonald’s ad from a few years ago — which I only ever saw on BET and another black network, TVOne — in which a black man sings about his wife not sharing her McNuggets with him, crooning: “Girl, you got a 10-piece, now don’t be stingy.” It’s just as lame as the Burger King spot (lamer, perhaps, as it seems unaware of its campiness), and it, too, is not at all racist.
Read Aisha Harris’ entire piece at Slate.