Has Tyler, the Creator Finally Gone Too Far?

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Photo by Marco Torres
Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, the Creator has never been known for being a sensitive man. Quite the opposite, he's known for unambiguous lyrics about controversial and disturbing subjects such as rape, murder, homophobia, and infanticide. One of his most infamous lyrics is from the song "Tron Cat," where he promises to "rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome."

Yeah, that's the kind of rapper we're dealing with here. Nevertheless, he's amassed a fanbase that seems completely willing to take lyrics like that in stride, and has become one of the most popular artists among the younger crowd in recent memory. He even beat Wiz Khalifa, Foster the People, Kreayshawn, and Big Sean for a VMA for Best New Artist.

But some are saying that Tyler has finally gone too far with his recent Mountain Dew ad, which has been accused of being racist, among other things. Well, has he?

First off, let's examine what we're looking at here. If you don't want to watch the commercial (seen above), it's a continuation of Tyler's previous commercials for Mountain Dew where his character "Felicia the Goat" has been on a rampage, attacking people due to the goat's obsession with Mountain Dew.

In this one, Felicia is in a police lineup with other suspects of the attack, portrayed by Odd Future friends L-Boy, Left Brain, and Errol, along with Garrett Stevenson of the hardcore punk band Trash Talk. On the other side of the window, some cops are coaxing a badly injured and clearly traumatized woman to identify her attacker, but she can hear Felicia (voiced by Tyler) telling her she better not snitch on him. She ultimately says she can't do it and leaves in tears. The cops shrug and drink some Mountain Dew.

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The main issue that people are having with this ad is the inherent racism in a lineup of all African-American male suspects (besides Felicia) in a brutal attack on a white woman. Dr. Boyce Watkins immediately took the ad to task on his Web site in a sternly worded letter. It ended up being a major antecedent in the ad's being pulled.

Dr. Watkins labeled the ad "arguably the most racist commercial in history" and went on to say, "Of course, in the world of Mountain Dew, every single suspect is black. Not just regular black people, but the kinds of ratchety negroes you might find in the middle of any hip-hop minstrel show."

In typical fashion, Tyler replied via Twitter with a non-sequitur that did not even address the issue at hand. Odd Future's manager also proffered his own defense of the ad.

Now we come to the question: is this ad intentionally and purposefully racist?

It's hard to say. Coming from Tyler, the Creator, an African-American male himself, it seems unlikely. More importantly than that, you have to look at the circumstances. Tyler enlisted friends of his to star in the ad with him. He didn't put out a casting call for "African-American males to star in a commercial as assault suspects." He grabbed some of his friends who were available and put them in the ad.

The fact that his friends happen to be African-American seems rather beside the point. Is Tyler then a racist for only having African-American friends with him when he was shooting the commercial? That seems like a rather huge leap of logic, yet it is the logic being employed here if we discount the evolution of the casting in the ad and jump to conclusions simply based on appearances.

But it seems that if we draw those conclusions, though, then we're the ones projecting racism on the ad where there was no intent for there to be.

Still, there's something altogether more disturbing about this ad to me, and it's a disturbing fact that all the media reporting on the ad's being pulled seems to have yet to address: the real joke of the ad.


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13 comments
Ramab Sven-Kylaw
Ramab Sven-Kylaw

i heard it was racist, didn't know anyone was running with "misogynistic." offended people need to get their offense cards synchronized, yo.

yeahfx
yeahfx

What? How could it be racist?
The woman would have told the police it was a black man that assaulted her... so obviously all the people in the police lineup would be black...

Joshua Macala
Joshua Macala

The people in the line up are black because they are his friends. If John Mayer was the focus of the ad, everyone would be white and you'd be out of your over-analytical job.

Selena.Dieringer
Selena.Dieringer

I agree. The "joke" aspect is extremely distrubing.

Tyler the Creator is a total D-bag. He was before this commercial, and he will be after. You can be talented and still be a D-bag. take your pick there... but I'd rather not listen to the shit he raps about.

He's the type of person (and is clearly represented by people who are also like this) that does not believe that there are consequences.

bjcaldwell2
bjcaldwell2

Nope, I agree with Tyler here. Nobody found that ad to be racist except Dr. Watkins. I don't even think we even looked that far into it, to be honest with you.

Chango Blanco
Chango Blanco

You have to consider the source of the ad... Tyler the Creator?!? Just another asshat with no real talent to speak of...

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

Its just a dumb commercial that has nothing to do with a soda.

Julia Olivarez
Julia Olivarez

The ad's been pulled from the article, but that's okay; reading about it made me lose my breakfast just fine.

Sandra Rodriguez
Sandra Rodriguez

I've heard people call the ad racist, but it certainly is more misogynistic than racist. In any case, it's an inexplicably bizarre ad that in no way makes the product more appealing (or memorable, since you just remember the goat, not the product).

H_e_x
H_e_x

@Selena.Dieringer I picture him and his fans saying "yolo" quite a bit. He's a tool, through and through.

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