Volkswagen’s new Super Bowl ad doesn’t star any black actors but it does feature a happy-go-lucky white man speaking with a Caribbean accent. The ad has received criticism for stereotyping the island’s people and mocking their dialect.
“I don’t like it all. It’s like blackface with voices. I don’t like that,” CNN correspondent and New York Times columnist Charles Blow told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday.
Christopher John Farley, a Jamaican-born journalist, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the accents reminded him of the ‘Star Wars’ character Jar Jar Binks, who used a Caribbean accent and broken English for comedic effect.
“The Jamaican aesthetic-shaped by such Jamaican-born notables as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the revolutionary Nanny of the Maroons-is founded on positive vibration, not mindless happiness.”
(The U.N. World Happiness Report ranks Jamaica as number 40 out of 156 nations studied.)
<p>Still <a href="http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&tab=ww#hl=en&tbo=d&sclient=psy-ab&q=jamaica+endorses+volkswagen&oq=jamaica+endorses+volkswagen&gs_l=hp.3...2107.16514.0.16618.104.22.168.0.0.0.144.3323.35j6.41.0.les%3Bcpsugrpq2high..3.0...1.1.FtDSzTjfAv8&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41642243,d.cGE&fp=a9017c0373b80654&biw=1425&bih=764">dozens of publications</a> have reported Jamaican's embraced the ad because the Minister of Tourism and Entertainment sent out a press release celebrating the ad.</p> <p>"I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous mass appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally," said Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica's Minister of Tourism and Entertainment.</p> <p><a href="http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=42551">The Jamaica Gleaner </a>went out and asked the Caribbean island's citizens how they felt about the ad and found some didn't agree with the minister of tourism.</p> <p>"If they want use a Jamaican dialect then they should definitely get a Jamaican then," said one man interviewed by the<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbHVHRx_cMc&feature=player_embedded"> Gleaner.</a></p><p>Tim Mahoney, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Volkswagen of America, said on <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/blackface-with-voices-is-vws-get-happy-super-bowl-ad-racist/">CNN</a> that the company consulted with 100 Jamaicans and used a speech coach on-set to ensure that the accents were accurate.</p> <p>'We obviously did our homework to make sure that we weren't offensive,' he said.</p><p>Volkswagen will run a <a href="http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/01/win_fail_or_racist_5_super_bowl_commercials_for_you_to_chime_in_on.html">second ad that features a real Jamaican.</a> Both ads will cost an estimated $7.6 million to air during Sunday's Super Bowl, according to CNN.</p>