Volkswagen is taking some heat for the commercial it plans to air during Sunday's Super Bowl. The spot, which VW started showing online this week, features a tall, goofy white man from Minnesota speaking in a Jamaican accent and trying to cheer up colleagues in a dreary office. In the opening shot, a man in an elevator says, "I hate Mondays," a woman says, "Yeah, they're the worst," and the happy-go-lucky faux islander chimes in from behind, saying, "No worries, mon. Everyt'ing will be all right." He then doles out uplifting comments to co-workers before taking his boss and the guy who hates Mondays for a ride in his new VW Beetle. They wind up adopting island accents, too. Then VW's new slogan appears: "Get in. Get Happy." Take a look:
Barbara Lippert, a veteran advertising critic, summed up the most angry criticism by saying the ad is just "so racist." Actress Pia Glenn says at The Daily Beast that might be an overly harsh judgment, but she still finds the car company's flogging of stereotypes to be offensive, and unfunny in the bargain. "Volkswagen is not out to get us. I just think they’re being woefully ignorant, and that is So. Much. Worse." VW has plenty of defenders, though. Mary Katherine Ham says at Hot Air that VW's "hyper-sensitive" critics should take the commercial's advice, and learn the "virtues of chilling out." After all, she says, "the butt of this very good-natured joke, such that it is, is a little bit the white guy for taking on his new accent — hence, the 'dude, you're from Minnesota' moment." One person not offended: Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica's minister of tourism and entertainment. "We view it as a compliment," McNeill tells USA Today. "People should get into their inner Jamaica and get happy." VW says it has received plenty of compliments, and has given "no thought to pulling it."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- This is how the U.S. thinks China could invade Taiwan
- Can we lead spiritually fulfilling lives without religion?
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- What political elites don't understand about Scotland's push for independence
Subscribe to the Week