After seeing this commercial, I am once again thrilled that in Canada we saw completely different set of SuperBowl ads than the U.S. The above advertisement was sent to me by blakdiamon, and after seeing the racist/sexist extravaganza I had to write something in response.
Throughout the entire commercial, there is a dark skinned Black woman hitting, or otherwise abusing her Back husband in various ways. He is constructed as a helpless victim of her rage. The only thing that calms her is Pepsi Max, until of course a White woman smiles at her husband and she throws the can at him, which he dodges hitting White woman squarely in the head. I suppose music soothes the savage beast has been updated to include Pepsi Max, unless of course a White Woman is around. I don’t even know which trope to begin with because Pepsi managed to squeeze so many into a 31 second spot.
First off, I suppose we should deal with the fact that Pepsi chose a dark skinned woman to be violently aggressive. This of course was not an accidental choice, and it is based in the fact that this is socially how Black women are understood, no matter how we speak or behave. It is a very specific part of the unwoman discourse that applies to Black women.
The idea that dark skinned Black women are constantly abusing the men in their lives is another trope that is based in sexism and racism. The fact is, rates of intra and inter racial violence against Black women reveal that turning Black women into the violent physical aggressor in the media, is both dangerous and untrue. It is much easier to construct Black women as angry sapphires, intent on doing harm to those around them, than admitting that we are often the victims of male violence based in race and sex.
I am particularly upset that she once again violent after a White woman smiled at her husband. What is this but an attempt to further alienate women from each other based in race? It plays into the construction of White womanhood defines what it is be a woman, and are therefore desirable to men of all races. The White woman as a sexual threat to us, or our families, is a specific creation of the White run media. I may be in an inter racial relationship, but I come from a Black father and a Black mother. I know without a doubt in my mind, that no White woman, no matter how beautiful, would ever become between them. I also know that after 38 years of marriage my mother would never consider any White woman a threat to their relationship. Furthermore, the males in family are all married to Black women. This is a situation that is not unique to my parents, or my family, and yet the media would have it be understood that all Black men ultimately want a piece of the White man’s pride – the White woman.
The way that race and gender were presented in this ad specifically demeaned not only Black women, but Black families. The idea that we are harridans is meant to silence us and to stop us from speaking up about the injustice that is constantly done against us. Good women are passive women, women who accept their marginalization without question. Far too many succumb to this belief in the false idea that this is what femininity is about, thereby empowering those who seek to exploit Black women.
Pepsi spent quite a bit of money on this commercial, but they will be rewarded not because of the taste of their product, but because it worked effectively attack a group of women that society sees as surplus and as existing without value. I don’t drink Pepsi, or I would certainly boycott their product, I do however think that as a community, we need to stop supporting companies that are clearly engaged in devaluing us for profit. The only way they are ever going to feel a consequence, is if we make them feel it with the loss of our dollars.