By Boyce Watkins, PhD
There is no bigger corporate money-maker than the Super Bowl. That’s when potential sponsors are lining up to pay amazing amounts of money to advertise, primarily because they know this is the only televised special of the entire year when consumers actually enjoy watching the ads.
In addition to being able to promote their wares to the world, advertisers often find themselves caught in the middle of controversy. Sometimes, the controversy is hilarious, like the little black boy who slapped the man dating his mother for taking one of his Doritos. This year’s most interesting ad may have come out early in the game, and it has been brought to you by Pepsi Max. You may want to call this ad “The Angry Black Woman.”
In the commercial, a black woman is keeping her husband on a diet. When he eats the wrong food, she gives him an evil look and kicks his leg hard under the table. When she sees him standing over a pie about to eat it, she angrily slams his face into the pie. When she catches him sneaking a bite of fattening food in the bath tub, she violently grabs the food from his hand and stuffs a bar of soap into his mouth.
The grand finale is when the couple is in the park. That’s when the wife runs up to her husband sitting on a park bench drinking a Pepsi Max. He looks at her concerned, as if she’s going to knock the hell out of him. Instead, she smiles and drinks a Pepsi Max of her own, indicating her approval of the drink for it’s low calorie content.
After the couple’s brief bonding moment, a beautiful blonde walks by, with the husband taking notice. The wife’s facial expression goes from content to hostile again, and she cocks back with the full can of Pepsi, aiming to nail her husband in the head. But her husband ducks right before the throw and the can hits the white woman in the head, who falls to the ground unconscious.
The black couple becomes alarmed after harming the white woman. Looking at each other and realizing that there may have been witnesses, they grab hands and run away.
There is also the broader implication of a black woman physically abusing her man, as if domestic violence is funny. The man in me is willing to laugh it off, but there is another part of me that is disturbed. So, between the act of giggling away serious violence, perpetuating the image of the angry black woman, portraying the black couple to be violent criminals and re-igniting the stereotype of the black woman beating her man for wanting the white girl, this ad gives black America a whole lot to talk about.
The ad will certainly get Pepsi a lot of attention, and be worth the money. What do you think? Do you think that black women should be offended by the Pepsi Max ad?
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy.