A Brilliant Commercial Sadly Misunderstood


Few terms are so misused as “racist”. People use it to describe everything from Jim Crow to fashion magazines with too many white women in them. We’re suffering from a lack of language precision. Something that means everything means nothing.

The commercial above, for example, is evidently considered racist because…well, I don’t know why. It’s ridiculous, in my view.

The argument seems to be that the guy in the commercial is white, but he speaks with a Jamaican accent! Evidently, most people who are from Jamaica are black, and the white guy isn’t, so…that’s racist.

Or in deductive form:

  1. Things are racist they involve anyone anywhere not liking anything having at all to do with race in any way.

  2. The commercial had a white person talking with an accent that is usually associated with black people.

  3. This seemed strage, somehow, to some people, so the commercial was racist.

This is a perfectly valid argument IF the first statement is true. Utterly asinine.

My Interpretation

My analysis of the commercial was quite different. First, it was about positivity and standing out from the pack. Rastafarians are known for being laid back, chill, and generally upbeat. So they showed a daily American office grind, with a bunch of suit and tie guys moping around in their sad little lives. And then they introduce someone who throws a complete curve to create the surprise via the Rastafarian philosophy (and accent).

Out of all the super depressed people, he’s the only guy who’s happy. And his accent jumps out at you because you’re wondering why in the hell he (a white nerdy guy from Minnesota) is speaking that way. Here’s the key point about the race (which should only have mattered for the theater of it, not for “racism”):

If it were a black guy in that role it wouldn’t have had the same surprise effect since the entire point was to have the accent be EXTREMELY STRANGE. Black people with Jamaican accents aren’t that strange, since 99.9% of all people with Jamaican accents are black.

For those who need a step by step on this, the message was that the Volkswagen may LOOK like every other car out there, but it is strange, and special, and positive about the world in a way that those around it are not.

To miss that brilliance, and to jump to racism as a default response to primitive confusion, is to betray one’s own lack of intelligence and creativity, as well as a willingness to create negativity when none exists.

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