There’s a bunch of debate on YouTube as to whether or not this is racist.
Well, it stereotypes Jamaicans as being happy-go-lucky fellows who don’t sweat the small stuff and have a great big smile all day. Although it’s not offensive to say that an entire nation is happy, in this case it’s complete bullshit (particularly if you’re a homosexual; it’s illegal over there). So is it wrong to make a massive generalisation about a country, or is it OK so long as that generalisation is positive?
I’d say either generalising is wrong or it isn’t. What if he covered himself in brown shoe polish? There’s nothing wrong with having brown skin, is there? Would you find that offensive? What if he made a joke about having a big penis? Nothing wrong with that, eh? So would that inspire angry missives to VW’s HQ?
I had a good chat about this with my dad last year. He does stand-up comedy and was wondering why it’s OK for black people to say ‘nigger’ but not white people? Why would a Jewish person take offence at being called a ‘bloody Jew’, whereas a Zoroastrian would be more likely to just brush ‘bloody Zoroastrian’ aside?
We came to the conclusion that it’s down to historical oppression: there are certain races that have historically been given a raw deal. That seems to have resulted in the feeling that any further insulting of those races is offensive. The countries and races that have done the oppressing (which, not-very-coincidentally, are also the states with the strongest economies and most power) get much less offended at someone calling them out for the country they come from. Overall, Caucasian people rule the world (for the time being. Hello China!), so telling someone they’re part of the group that’s in charge is not going to be a problem.
An American in a German car ad pretending to be a Jamaican? Definitely iffy.
Oh, and besides that, the ad is not at all funny. It’s toe-curlingly embarrassing to watch those pisspoor clichés being worked over in such a bovine fashion.
Borderline racism I can take, but lazy, unamusing borderline racism? Why bother?
UPDATE: Here’s the making of: ‘You want to be doing a brilliant job to make people just love Volkswagen’. Good luck with that.