Yes, this is real.
In a series of advertisements that cost $1.5 million to make, Ashton Kutcher – in an attempt to sell snack chips – donned full-on brownface, an awkward accent, and bizarre dance moves for character Bollywood producer “Raj.”
Popchips launched several promotional videos in the format of a dating service to advertise their chips, with each video centered on a specific personality. And Raj has received quite a bit of media attention on his own. Rightfully so, in my opinion. Watch it here:
In an accent that I don’t know that I can describe as even vaguely Indian, he excitedly tells the viewers that he just won a “milking contest” and creepily leers out at the audience when he says he’s looking for something “Kardashian hot.”
The ad is offensive in all kinds of ways. I don’t know why this even has to be said in 2012, but if you thinking about imitating a different ethnic or racial group and have to significantly alter your skin color, don’t. It’s as simple as that. If you have to do that and perpetuate a damaging and belittling stereotype, run in the other direction. I’m also looking at you, Tracey Ullman.
Brooklyn-based trio Das Racist (2/3 of whom are of Indian descent), pointed out the irony of the usually-likeable Kutcher’s willingness to do the ad: “So, a dude who pimps sex trafficking awareness @aplusk to revive a sagging acreer also plays brownface characters for @popchips #america”
In response to the backlash, Popchips CEO Keith Belling issued an apology on the Popchips website on Wednesday:
“We received a lot of feedback about the dating campaign parody we launched today and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view.
our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”
Seems like a good enough apology to me – he takes responsibility and doesn’t give any of that “I’m-sorry-you-were-offended” B.S. The ad was also pulled from the Popchips campaign. Good riddance.
(Image via Popchips)
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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