Edd’s MANtra: Mary J. Blige’s Chicken Commerical Ruffles Feathers

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There’s a big misconception in our country about African Americans and race issues. Whenever a racially sensitive story pops up in the media, there’s certain sect of people who believe that minorities can’t wait to point fingers and yell in unison, “Dat’s RACISSSSSSSSSSSS!”

Sorry, that’s not always the case. Black folks aren’t always ready to rally in the streets over every little infraction. There’s often division about what is — and isn’t — considered racist.

Take Mary J. Blige, Queen of Hip Hop Soul, and her maligned Burger King commercial:

Thanks to social media, the backlash for this commercial was swift and deafening. Madame Noire, a lifestyle blog for black women, called the spot “utter buffoonery” and chastised Mary for “harmonizing about chicken.” Burger King admitted the spot was unfinished and pulled it yesterday.

Mary J herself was pretty upset, saying: “I agreed to be part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip. I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out.”

As loud as the critics were yesterday, today there seems to be an even louder cry against that criticism. On my Facebook page alone, I’ve seen dozens of commenters – all African Americans – wondering what the big deal is. They ask, “If Mary J wants to sing about chicken wraps, isn’t that her prerogative? And aren’t we dealing with much bigger issues?”

In the interest of full disclosure, my boy Keith Sweat did sing about McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets a few years ago:

Listen, the last thing I wanna see in 2012 is black folks shuckin’ n’ jivin’ for chicken. Especially when they’re hitting high notes like they’re performing on a Super Bowl halftime show. But the critics’ critics do raise a interesting point – when is an issue worthy of backlash?

In light of current events, especially the Trayvon Martin tragedy, our nation’s racial sensitivity has been heightened. It’s no wonder people are on high alert. A jingle about chicken nuggets is admittedly kinda lame, but having a woman yell about tasty chicken while kids “raise the roof” is a bit overboard – and amateurish. Yes, there are much more important issues going on and I definitely won’t be calling Rev. Al (nor would I EVER call that guy). Still, the BK ad needlessly perpetuates hurtful stereotypes. There are a billion other ways to promote snack wraps – why stick with a method that has been used to objectify minorities?

Yes, there are times where we have to pick our battles. This time, though, I feel the outcry was justified. We must remain vigilant. 

Besides, we already have one “entertainer” obsessed with food, we don’t need another.

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What do you think? Does the ad go too far?

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t see the big deal. But I WILL say, it looked like a Chappelle Show skit. lol

  2. Yeah, Nik, it’s not a huge deal, especially with everything else going on right now. But, as I said earlier, the Trayvon case has raised everyone’s guard so I understand why folks were so quick to respond.

    I’m still not sure why no one at BK had the foresight to think that people might be offended. The spot definitely needed to be removed.

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