Pieces of Ivory: Pepsi Max Commercial Are You Offended?

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It’s a little known fact that Pepsi and Doritos’ Super Bowl commercials are submitted by up and coming filmmakers. For the past four years, Pepsi Co. has run a contest each year to see who can make the best amateur commercial. The contest is called ‘Crash The Super Bowl’ and the winner gets a chance to win up to one million dollars and have their commercial aired during the biggest sporting event of the year.

This year, there were several great entries in the contest. The commercial that got some of the biggest buzz, both positive and negative, was about a black woman who basically controls her man’s life. At the end the commercial, the woman throws a can at her man’s head, ruining their peaceful moment after he basically flirts with a white chick in front of her who happens to be exercising nearby. He dips, she misses, it hits the chick in the head and they run off together.

Is this how many “other” folks see black women? Is this how they view us in relationships as demanding, controlling and bossy? Is this how our men are viewed as weak minded, whipped and always lusting after the forbidden fruit?

When I first saw the commercial I thought it was very funny, especially at the end. But after the chuckles subsided, it was very obvious there were several stereotypical behaviors within the ad.

Controlling – The woman controlled what her man ate, what he ordered in the restaurant and what he snacked on. Did she have to be portrayed that harshly? Couldn’t she have been more of a Claire Huxtable type that only tried to look after and care about her husband’s health and eating habits?

Whipped – Did the man have to get emasculated at every turn? He got kicked for ordering the wrong thing, his face got smashed in a pie, he had to hide in the bathtub to get a snack and then he got a can thrown at him? I don’t know any man who would put up with that type of behavior, especially a black man. Do “others” really believe that our men get treated so badly by us? Couldn’t he have been portrayed as a strong-willed, health conscious brother that valued his wife’s opinions and was glad that she cared about his health and well-being?

Jealous of a 2520 – Did it have to be a white chick that came along and ruined the peace and harmony between the couple? They finally agreed on the drink and were doing great. Why did some young white chick have to come by and ruin all that? Couldn’t an attractive black chick have been jogging by and that’s what caught his eye? Oh, I get it, black chicks don’t work out. I mean, look at the chick playing the lead. She is slightly overweight herself. So, why not portray an athletic, healthy, pretty, black chick jogging by? Oh, I forgot, obviously those don’t exist or the director would have used that, right?

Are these some of the biggest reasons why black women can’t find a man or stay in healthy relationships because we act like this? Or was it just a funny spot that got folks talking bout Pepsi Max and people are taking it way too seriously?

By the way, a young white dude from Kansas City produced this commercial, so obviously he had to get his content from somewhere, right?

10 COMMENTS

  1. I've been waiting and wanting to write about this but didn't think it was worth my time or thought to comment on other opinions I've run across that read like a civil rights gone wrong pissing contest. I think you were honest–and I think you got it right the first time. The commercial earned your laughter–which was the intended purpose–not outrage or protest, just laughter. It's not at all likely that Pepsi execs had a meeting to discuss spending +$3 million on an ad to anger black women so they would buy LESS of their diet soda. I should type that sentence twice.

    Of course there are stereotypes. Stereotypes are generally funny and widely used in every form of human interaction, especially media. In the saddest of ironies, the waves of protest that have erupted over this commercial is actually injecting the stereotype with steroids. The black woman in the commercial threw a can at her man and inadvertently hit a white woman in the head. Now some black women (and pandering men) are reacting by picking the can and throwing it a "The Man" and his evil, subliminal, stereotyping ways, but are inadvertently hitting themselves in the head.

    Stereotypes are woven into the fabric or humanity. They can't be avoided. But they aren't exactly the social land mines that the "rebels without a cause" would have us believe.

    Exhibit A: Tyler Perry is the chief of all stereotypewriters black, white or in between. (Note to self: add stereotypewriter to urban dictionary.) I can't watch anything with his screenwriting attached to it. But he doesn't miss my patronage at ALL. People LOVE Tyler Perry. They flock to support his portfolio of cliches and entirely excuse his lack of writing talent or creative range. Why!? Because it's okay to laugh at his stereotypes (whether it's with him or at him). If Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence or Dave Chappelle took the same narrative we see in this commercial and turned it into a stand-up piece, it would be classically hilarious. Why!? Because they get a pass too. Every comedian does. As long they're not too white. And the truth be told, every person does. So long as they aren't caucasian by birth or persuasion. But we see Pepsi–think "white" and suddenly, funny isn't funny anymore. It's a false-sophistication that won't allow us to accept or acknowledge The White Man's brand of funny–even when it's really funny–which is really kind of sad. So I'm glad you laughed Ivory. No need for further analysis, apology or retraction. I can't even look at a white woman now without the vision of a soda can flying toward her head. And I laugh, EVERYTIME. And I'm perfectly okay with that.

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