What’s Racist About a Talking Goat?

LZ Granderson, CNN, May 3, 2013

I went online this morning to see the Mountain Dew ad–the one some are calling the most racist in history–expecting to see some really offensive stuff. Instead, I saw some really silly stuff.

The goat’s funny.

The names of some of the black men in the lineup are hilarious.

The premise: ridiculous.

And I would think that’s the point of a commercial with a talking goat. It’s meant to be ridiculous and not taken seriously. {snip}

Does it play on stereotypical imagery?

Yes, and because of that, I can see how some could be a bit put off by a police lineup featuring all black men before a frightened white woman. But come on, one of the suspects’ names is “Beyonte.”

The circumstances surrounding the scene in the commercial are so outrageously over the top, I found myself snickering more than anything. {snip}

{snip}

The Mountain Dew commercials’ brand of frat-boy physical humor isn’t everyone’s thing. It could be seen as callous or making light of battered women. For me, though, the presence of a talking goat put me in a different “South Park”-ish mindset. There’s a reason “South Park” remains a high-rated show, why “The Simpsons” is the longest-running sitcom in history, why a third installment of “The Hangover” is being released: A lot of people like dumb, frat-boy humor draped in fantasy.

And I’m not trying to say Tyler, the Creator (whose real name is Tyler Okonma) scripted a commercial that is as brilliant as anything we’ve seen on the “Chappelle Show.” {snip} But with all of that being said, I doubt his intent behind the commercial was to demonize black men.

And that’s the difference: intent.

A commercial that uses stereotypes has the potential to make any minority group featured in it uncomfortable, but is the Mountain Dew commercial really on par with, say, “Birth of a Nation,” a film that blatantly uses disparaging caricatures of black men to slander and promote fear? No, it isn’t, so can we please step back from the ledge?

{snip}

The ad was pulled. I can’t help but feel it’s a sad, sad day when the policing of comedy gets to the point where we can’t even laugh at a talking goat.

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