Do you remember this Superbowl ad? Did you find it particularly funny? When it played on Sunday night, I did titter just a bit, uncomfortably though. However, my brother-in-law found it uproariously hilarious. So much so that he got bar-b-q sauce on my new oxford button-down. That stain is not coming out.
However, for some reason, the commercial did not sit well with me. It was just something about it that put me ill at ease. So, yesterday when I should have been grading student papers, I wasted a few minutes (or hours) critiquing Superbowl ads.
Could it be the fact that the commercial featured an African American woman who just happened to be a single mother? Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong or pathological about single motherhood. And it could be just coincidental that the ad company producing the ad chose to cast African Americans.
However, in the same instance, when played before a mainstream audience, the commercial draws upon and plays into a certain narrative of hatred and disdain directed toward black single mothers.
And what about a child, a little black boy child, slapping an adult in the face? Am I wrong to find that offensive? It certainly ain't cute. Am I wrong to believe that act to be just a continuation and adjunct to the narrative mentioned above, one that posits the notion that because young black males are being raised by single mothers they must be naturally aggressive and undisciplined.
But think about it. If your child, black or otherwise, slapped an adult in the face, would you find it particularly funny? Furthermore, if that child is so utterly audacious as to slap an adult in the face at that age, what does his future look like? What else is in his bag of tricks?
I don’t know. Maybe I am reading too much into this whole thing. Maybe I am just still peeved that that loud, country Negro got that greasy sauce stain down the front of my new shirt. What kind of person waves a rib around all willy-nilly in a room full of people anyway?
Or perhaps I am simply too sensitive of the narratives about black people that are posited within the mainstream and also, the way we are portrayed across the various mediums. Going back through my blog archives, I see that this is a theme I have rehearsed and revisited many times. And my wife always tells me that I am prone to overanalyzing things. Could this be it? However, I should also add that she found it even less appealing than I did.
But whatever it may be, I still cannot bring myself to like this commercial, and I am surprised that more people have not objected to it as well. What do you think?
Feministe, “Reconsidering the Black Single Mother Argument.”
Polifact.com, “Statistics Don’t Lie.”