Sunday, February 20, 2011

Offensive or Not?

It's difficult to analyze the Pepsi commercial aired during the Super Bowl and not find some form of racial stereotyping in it, or any form of racism for that matter. What bothers me is the fact that it's almost too easy to find racism in it, solely because there are two races present in the commercial. Regardless of who was chosen to be included in the spot, we could make some legitimate racial criticisms. If whites were only involved, blacks could argue that a bias is present. In contrast, if only black people were portrayed in the commercial, then whites could contend that Pepsi is merely satisfying any potential conflicts regarding racial bias.

The Pepsi spot for the Super Bowl brings a different racial dynamic, however, because it isn't just about race. There's potential for debate in how the races interact. It isn't all that noteworthy that we witness a wife nagging her husband about eating healthier. What raises the level of interest with this commercial, particularly from a racial perspective, is in the desirous looks directed from the black man to the cute white girl who sits down on the park bench to relax from a jog. It's almost inevitable that this encounter could be misconstrued racially, considering that his black wife throws a Pepsi can at her husband and ends up hitting the white jogger accidentally. What can appear offensive is when the black couple flee the scene as the jogger withers in pain.

What should have been seen as an accident has been portrayed in an potentially offensive manner because of the race of the people in the commercial. Whether it was Pepsi's original intention or not to push these contentious aspects, it's hard to ignore the racial situations that potentially exist in the TV spot. I don't believe the commercial is offensive because of the comedic aspect of it, but there are many reasons other people can think otherwise.

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