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After drawing criticism for its racially-insensitive imagery, the latest installment of rapper Tyler the Creator’s advertisement series for Mountain Dew was pulled from the Internet on Tuesday.
The commercial featured several black men in a police lineup along with a character named “Felicia the Goat. The suspects are depicted in bandanas, eye patches, oversized t-shirts, and thuggish demeanor, inhabiting numerous unflattering stereotypes often linked to African-American males.
Behind the glass is a battered white woman on crutches, her neck in a brace, her forehead bloodied. The goat (voiced by the musician) quietly taunts the woman, warning her not to “snitch on a playa.”
As the woman shrieks, the goat continues murmuring threats and warns her that “snitches get stitches.” The woman hobbles away, terrified, refusing to point out anyone in the lineup.
Ad deemed ‘wholly offensive’
In a statement released Wednesday, a spokesperson for Mountain Dew said, “We understand how this video could be perceived by some as offensive, and we apologize to those who were offended. We have removed the video from all Mountain Dew channels and have been informed that Tyler is removing it from his channels as well.”
The commercial was the third installment of the digital series directed by Tyler, which tracks a rebellious goat, drunk off Mountain Dew, as he lives the life of an outlaw chasing his soda-stimulated high.
In the new edition, the goat has been detained for assault and taunts his white female victim, as she debates whether or not to identify him in the lineup.
Soon after its release, the ad was deemed “wholly offensive” for capitalizing on racial innuendos, and further criticized for using violence and sexual assault as comedic material.
How the ad got dismissed
Media activist Paul Porter of Industry Ears was behind the ad’s dismissal.
“I’ve been doing this along time and this is the fastest I’ve ever seen anything happen,” Porter tells theGrio. “Luckily, I knew Frank Cooper, who’s the Global Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo. I called him; I showed him the video. He had no idea of the content of the video because Pepsi’s so big and it went up as a web ad…He thought it was wrong, and we talked about what do in the future so it doesn’t happen, and what to do now. I said the best thing to do is to get it off the air.”
Porter was contacted by the Emmett Till Foundation Tuesday morning, and told they were preparing to release a press statement on the matter. He then called Cooper, and roughly six hours later the ad disappeared.
“I watched it with [Frank] and like he said, it’s just stereotypical all the way,” Porter said. “The black guys lined up in a police lineup, and the white lady really beat up. Even though it was a goat. Some people can get the humor and some won’t…There’s a lot of folks that won’t get it. They’ll just be like, ‘Oh yeah, the black guys are always in the line-up, the white ladies are always beat up and then there’s the goat.’”
As for his take on the matter, Tyler is currently on tour and was unavailable for immediate comment, but described his concept for the series on AmarudonTV in April.
“I thought it would be funny if a goat just f**king yelled, and wanted some Mountain Dew,” he explained. “The f**king ‘you’re never going to catch me,’ I’ve been saying that joke for like the past five years. When I drive, I be thinking I’m a secret agent.”
Lil Wayne walks back his offending lyrics
Of course, this is not the first time PepsiCo has faced scrutiny for their artist partnerships. The Emmett Till Foundation campaigned to have the corporation drop its endorsement of Lil Wayne due to his refusal to apologize for derogatory lyrics on Future’s song “Karate Chop (remix).”
Wayne finally issued an apology to the foundation Wednesday, stating, “I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt.” He also promised not to reference Till moving forward.
In 2002, Ludacris lost his deal with PepsiCo after Bill O’Reilly accused the company of supporting a “thug rapper” who promotes violence. Ludacris fought back with his own campaign against anti-hip hop politics.
Meanwhile other corporations are similarly having to check their high-profile sponsorships. Reebok recently discontinued its deal with Rick Ross after a song was released featuring him rapping about raping a woman.
“The one thing I got from Frank Cooper is that when they lost Ludacris a long time ago with the Bill O’Reilly thing, they took a lot of pressure from artists to stand by artists,” Porter notes. “And I understand that you can’t dump an artist every time they do something wrong, but my whole point is you guys always have to do some outreach in some other ways to show media literacy and show both sides of the story.”
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter at @CourtGarcia