Many of us have seen the ad by now and heard the controversy. I’ve been chewing on this for a few days and have come to a conclusion.
To me (someone not Jamaican but of West Indian heritage and parentage), the Volkswagen Superbowl ad is not racist. I like it because of what it attempts to accomplish and find it rather interesting for a few reasons:
- It presents the unexpected. “Just who is this white man with a Jamaican accent?”
- It presents the unexpected within the familiar – the office place.
- It highlights a group that is not often mentioned outside of sports, music and a few taboo topics.
THAT SAID, I did have one issue with the commercial. Several stories note that the VW team surveyed the ad among 100 Jamaicans and that a speech coach was hired to help the actors be as accurate as possible with the accents.
Here’s my issue: Jamaica is quite diverse, with people of African, Anglo, Asian and Indian descent. They could have identified actual Jamaican actors from any of these groups and still had the same (if not a better) effect on the public because it would have been more authentic by design.
I may explore this further via Socially Diverse, but in 2013, culture wins!