Let’s play ‘Find the Racism,’ beer ad edition

Let’s play ‘Find the Racism,’ beer ad edition

Who’s up for a game of “Find the Racism”? All you need in order to play is an ear attuned to imaginary dog whistles and a persecution complex.

Today’s game focuses on a 30-second TV ad by beer maker Heineken. CBS News credits someone named Chance the Rapper with having been the first person to remark that the spot was “terribly racist.”

Without further ado, here’s the commercial. See if you can figure out what makes it “terribly racist.”

Did you catch it? First, there is the tag line “Sometimes lighter is better.” The reference is to the product, which is a light beer. But if you think about it, lighter rhymes with whiter, and God knows whiter is never better.

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Strike one.

Now turn your direction to the actors in the commercial. The woman at the end of the bar who is dissatisfied with her white wine, prompting the bartender to send a Heineken Light her way, is Caucasian — more or less. Suffice it to say she is not black.

Contrast that with all the people the beer bottle passes by en route to its intended customer, all of whom are black. Make that “most of whom.” Two of the women are blurred out, so it’s really hard to say with certainty what color they are. To his observer, both appear white.

Anyway, strike two.

Strike three goes to Heineken for knuckling under to this lunacy. According to CBS:

A spokesperson for Heineken on Tuesday confirmed the ad had been pulled.

“While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken light beer — we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns,” the Dutch brewery said Monday in a statement.

A word here about the casting in ads is in order. The decision to “diversify” casting dates to the late 1960s. Complaints from civil rights groups prompted advertisers to begin featuring more people of color in their work.

By 2014, the industry had gone whole hog and began featuring gay couples, single-parent families, and people with disabilities. Even during this formative period, the emphasis on black faces remained paramount.

If Chance the Rapper sees a preponderance of black faces in the Heinekin ad, it may ironically be because of an effort to combat perceived racism.

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Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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