Mountain Dew has secured its place in history for the most racist ad in history, as Dr. Boyce Watkins puts it. I stopped drinking Mountain Dew, which is bottled by PepsiCo., when I left college in the late 1980s, primarily because I didn’t need that caffeine buzz to stay up late to study. It’s shameful nonetheless but consider the context in which the commercial was made — created by the leader of Odd Future, a hip-hop group that’s also behind the sketch comedy show Loiter Squad on Comedy Central. The most famous member of the group is none other that Frank Ocean. All members of the group are black. To be honest, I saw Dr. Boyce Watkins article the day it was published and I shrugged my shoulders as to the newsworthiness but then it gained traction and took an ugly turn.
The controversial ad created by Mountain Dew for the Internet consisted of several black men in a police lineup, giving intimidating glances at a frightened white woman who doesn’t know if she is safe to testify. In the middle of the group of violent criminals is Sheila the Goat, who is speaking in a very urban, angry voice, telling the woman that “snitches get stitches fool,” and also letting the woman know that the goat “shoulda took more of that,” implying that the woman had been s-xually assaulted. Source: Your Black World
Should Mountain Dew be boycotted? If the truth be told, Mountain Dew isn’t the only company that we should go after for racism, the misogynistic and hateful lyrics being tolerated by record companies should be front and center as well. Seems to me that PepsiCo, which owns Mountain Dew, may have only been guilty of putting out a commercial in bad taste but to call for a boycott of the company is problematic and troubling. Let’s start with the fact that the commercial was the idea of a black person. The racism argument is moot at this juncture. It’s just a horrible commercial. I know PepsiCo was targeting a specific demographic, but damn, who would to drink Mountain Dew after seeing such a commercial?
Odd Future’s manager Christian Clancy issued a statement on Tumblr that echoes Tyler, the Creator’s response to his critics that “if you are offended, you just don’t get good art.” Here’s an excerpt from Tumblr article:
It was never Tylers intention to offend however offense is personal and valid to anyone who is offended. Out of respect to those that were offended the ad was taken down. For those who know and respect Tyler he is known for pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes thru humor. This is someone who grew up on David Chappelle. This situation is layered with context and is a discussion that Tyler would love to address in the right forum as he does have a point of view. As someone who hasn’t had the experience of being discriminated against i choose to respect the opinion of those who have.. what I can speak to is Tyler who represents much more than the current narrative this story suggests. Contrary to what many may discern from this Tyler is the embodiment of not judging others, his delivery may not be for everyone (which is true for anyone who pushes boundaries) but his voice is nonetheless impt to the conversation since his demographic understands what he ultimately stands for and sees the irony of it all. Context may or not help those who are offended and I wholly respect that but for those who are interested I can offer the following and leave the rest to Tyler.
Separately, the family of Emmett Till, who was murdered for allegedly looking at a white woman, are after Mountain Dew, which sponsored a Lil Wayne rap video for “Karate Chop” remix. Lil Wayne rapped Emmett Till’s beaten and swollen face looked like a woman’s vulv* after he had s*xual intercourse with her. Personally, I believe if you are going to attack PepsiCO, then you have to attack the context in which the commercial was made, and the culture of misogynistic lyrics emanating from some rappers. Seems like Mountain Dew has had a bad week of negative publicity.