Forbes – That Volkswagen Super Bowl Ad: Pretty Clever, Slightly Racist, Kind of Wrong

2013 Volkswagen Super Bowl XLVII commercial "Get Happy"

Is stereotyping wrong when the qualities being assigned to a given group are positive ones? How you answer that question probably determines whether you believe Volkswagen’s new Super Bowl commercial about people so happy they speak in Jamaican accents is racist or just cute.

I tend to err on the side of cute, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who finds it to be in poor taste. There’s certainly something patronizing about reducing an entire complex culture down to “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Is “Dave” the face of the real Jamaica — a nation beset by intense corruption, violence and poverty — or the one that American tourists want to imagine (and the Jamaican tourism industry wants them to imagine)? It smacks of minstrelsy.

Still, Volkswagen says it tested the ad extensively with Jamaicans and got positive feedback. On YouTube, the response has been similar, running nearly 19-to-1 in favor.

If there’s an objective problem with the spot, it may be that it’s factually dubious. Jamaicans are not actually among the world’s happiest peoples, either according to the U.N. World Happiness Report or the Legatum Prosperity Index.

Read More at : Forbes

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