Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is this ad racist?

I have poured over this ad by the Republican National Committee dozens of times in the past few days to determine if I could find any attempt at racism in it. I could not. Thinking for a moment that this may have something to do with the fact that I am a white male (one of those bad people the Republicans cater to) I asked an African-American friend to honestly tell me if they thought the ad was racist and to pull no punches, nay spare no offense in telling me their honest opinion of the advertisement-I would not be offended, I said. They said they thought the ad was funny, and they couldn't see any racist intent. I think it is roll-in-the-floor hilarious.

The party poopers at the NAACP and the Empire State Yankees in the New York-based press say the ad is racist because it supposedly re-enforces a racial stereotype about "predatory black men" going after white women and the ad is running in a Southern State. I suppose I could see some small inkling of that sort of thing if the ad if the only person in the ad who could possibly be seen as characterizing that portrayal, namely the "bunny girl" were actually attractive enough to be a Playboy bunny. It isn't that I think the woman is unattractive, but believe me, she hardly screams "Playboy" at me. The whole spot wreaks of raw comedic humor, and if the producers of the ad are guilty of anything, it is a Foxworthy-esque sort of stereotype that makes Southerners of all colors laugh at themselves with good humor.

One thing I do not appreciate is the NAACP's attitude toward the South and Southerners. I realize that there are folks in that organization who still see a Klansman under every rock south of the Ohio River, but while they are still stuck in that time of bigotry in their minds, the rest of us have moved on. It might surprise them to know that my next store neighbors are a black man who is married to a white woman, and not only are there no lynch mobs waiting to run them out of town, but they are respected members of the local community. I understand that the NAACP may think we all hate black people or Hispanic people because to them, being conservative makes you a bigot by itself, but we aren't. They are just using this as a political ploy to benefit Democrats and Ford in particular.

My continued reservations about Bob Corker are reinforced because he keeps calling for the ad to be pulled. Why? The ad is funny, sharp, and smartly done, and it is less designed to sway undecided voters than it is to shore up the Republican base for Corker, most of which (like me) do not trust him. The fact that he called for such a masterful piece of political advertizing to be pulled only shows that he has utterly no understanding of the need for the support of the GOP's conservative wing in this State. This ad is aimed directly at us, and if Corker would have just kept his mouth shut, the piece may have done the job it was supposed to do.

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At Wednesday, October 25, 2006 7:44:00 PM, Blogger rightwinginsider2 said...

To hear the interview on WVLZ that was mentioned on the Drudge Report and Tennessean, go to this link and click on Harold Ford Playboy interview question

At Thursday, October 26, 2006 6:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, like you I didn't see racial themes woven into the ad.

To complicate matters I grew up in a liberal northern state. I have read that some feel this whole mess was whipped up by northern media types. The same northerners who have an arcane view of the south. Regardless of my background I'm still oblivious to this controversy.

So again, like you, I deferred to a true southerner, by upbringing, and a white male by chance. His political ideology independent (I say conflicted). I asked him was this what he saw, is that what the ad was getting at? He gave a tight lipped knowing smirk and nodded quickly.

Either I'm stupid, devoid of racial sensitivities or just have a good sense of humor. I hope its not the first one.

At Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

I deferred to a Southern black man-I figured if anyone could see racism in the ad, an African-American who was from here could do it...

At Thursday, October 26, 2006 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

Both you and anonymous are making the same error - creating an authoritative source out of too small a sample. You asked ONE person and got an answer you liked. Well, ask some more people - you'll get different answers, some yes, some no. That's how subtle subjectivity works. It's how you can say something and still have enough cover to say, with some justification, that you really didn't say that. Watch your TV commericals and infomertials - don't pay any attention to what they're selling, pay attention to how they're selling it - you'll often see the same trick used.


At Thursday, October 26, 2006 1:17:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Okay Steve, let me ask you this, from your "simply subjective" perspective...

Ignore for a moment the notion that you personally might find the ad "low class..." Do you think the intent is to be overtly racist here? I am asking your opinion, not a sample. ;)

At Friday, October 27, 2006 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

The ad is not "overtly" racist. It's long way form that. But, and it's a big BUT, it's just close enough to hint at something that might, just might, maybe cause someone to let that sway them. The fact that I saw the hint and a lot of others too, is the problem. Folks that aren't bigoted would either miss it or see it as only a hint. Folks that are bigoted would see the hint (perhaps not conscience of it) and go 'yep, that's fancy Ford." These subtle innuendo's are tricky, simply because they are so subtle. However, keep in mind how much time, money and effort go into these. Keep in mind how scientific the Advertisment Industry is - they now what works, they only pay for what works.


At Friday, October 27, 2006 1:41:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Really this seems to be a matter of perception. If you are overly sensative, or just determined to see racism, you'll see it that way. If you are a bigit determined to see anything in terms of race, you might see it that way-but most thinking people would not see it that way...unless they are told to see it that way by the press, of course. I think that is especially true for people who, as they like to say in White Pine "ain't from around here."

At Saturday, October 28, 2006 3:49:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

The first part of you reply goes to the point I was making - it's perception - how do you sway that without being blatent? Just drop hints; people will do the rest for you.
In this case, whether you want to admit it or not, the hint wasn't subtle enough and it was spotted and exposed and that's why it blew up in Corker's face. I really don't think he had anything to do with its production - he was just left holding the bag for a bunch of DC dipsticks who, as they like to say in White Pine, "ain't from around here."

At Monday, October 30, 2006 4:55:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

The problem Steve is that out-of-State media folks who are making presumptions about this ad are operating on the premise that Tennesseans will see the ad as racist because a majority of white Tennesseans are racist.

That is certainly the impression I get from the national media and obviously I think it is a false one.

There are bigots in every State of the Union who can take this ad (or any number of political ads) and draw whatever conclusion they want from it...but I don't for a minute think those folks are in the majority.


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