Who's racist? Not VW, Caribbean groups say
After the automaker's Super Bowl ad came under fire this week, 2 organizations rise to the company's defense.
Volkswagen (VLKAY) is getting a little help in battling the naysayers who have accused its Super Bowl ad of racism.
Two Caribbean groups -- the Institute for Caribbean Studies and the Caribbean Heritage Organization -- are turning the tables on the commercial's critics. "What we find problematic and bordering on the offensive are the mostly non-Jamaican critics who contend that the commercial is racist," the groups said in a statement.As for the charges that the ad is racially offensive, the groups say the commercial actually boosts the image of Jamaicans by supporting its citizens as being "hardworking" and "having a laid-back, positive, don't-worry-about-a-thing disposition."
The commercial, which was released on Sunday, features a white Minnesotan who suddenly starts speaking in a Jamaican accent. Surrounded by grumpy co-workers, he tells them to cheer up and "Turn the frown the other way around." You can see the ad here.
The source of his happiness is then revealed to be his ride: a VW Beetle. The controversy hasn't kept viewers away from the commercial: As of Friday morning, the spot had been viewed 4.7 million times on YouTube.
Not everyone found the accent charming. New York Times columnist Charles Blow told CNN, "It's like blackface with voices." Another CNN commentator said the spot reminded him of Jar Jar Binks, the maligned "Star Wars" character who was criticized as reflecting some racial stereotypes.
But the Caribbean groups point out that the ad isn't targeting a single race. "We hasten to assure the viewing public, that being Jamaican just like being American is a nationality and not a race," according to the statement.
The Super Bowl airs this Sunday on CBS.
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