Has Tyler, the Creator Finally Gone Too Far?
Tyler's "joke" in this ad is not a racist joke about four African-American males in a police lineup, it's that a male attacker is discouraging a battered female from "snitching," and ultimately gets his way, to which police simply shrug. That "joke" is what's really wrong with this ad.
Tyler is already known for misogynistic lyrics about abusing women, and to a certain extent we've been able to overlook it -- partly because Tyler has disavowed his lyrics as jokes and partly because they just don't seem as awful when they're in a hokey song by a jokey rapper with a silly beat, said in a cheerful voice.
You get the impression he's joking and purposefully trying to shock people, and even if you don't like it, you can roll your eyes and move on, accepting that he doesn't mean what he's saying.
It's different here. Now Tyler is not only making light of the abuse of women, he's discouraging them from speaking out about it or taking a stand. There's no apology for it here, nothing to make up for it or say "hey, I'm just trying to shock people." It's just blunt and graphic, and it never reaches a sing-songy point where it seems funny.
It's just there, in our faces: an abused woman and her attacker cursing her out until she's in tears. This could be one of those domestic-violence PSAs in any other context, except somehow it's supposed to be "funny" here.
That Tyler would think this was a funny joke, or that he would think it is acceptable for mainstream consumption is bad enough. But it reaches a peak when the news media takes a stand against the ad, forces PepsiCo to pull the ad, and condemns Tyler for... accusations of racism?
What, did nobody notice the extremely misogynistic overtone of the ad? Are we all just content to ignore that and make something completely incidental into the issue here? If we're going to lead a crusade against Tyler, the Creator, at least it should be justified.
The misogyny here is blatant and unacceptable, and it's a shame that the media has overlooked that in the midst of the racial controversy -- which, given the ad's context, seems dramatically less important. If there is any racism in this ad, it is unintentional. The misogyny is purposeful. It is the joke. And that disgusts me, personally.
As someone who has been a fan of Tyler's for his skill as a producer, I do believe he's gone too far this time and I don't think he should get a pass on this. He's talented enough to survive without the shock antics, and it's about time he stood on his own without them. That he would take a major endorsement deal from Mountain Dew, where they allowed him to have free creative control over his commercials, and then put this out is a testament to his immaturity.
It's a shame in light of his talent, but hopefully he'll learn from it and we can all put this behind us. As it is, his music sounds a lot less appealing after watching this ad.