Tyler, the Creator is no stranger to controversy. But the Odd Future rapper is making big headlines this week after a commercial he directed for Mountain Dew was deemed “racist” and pulled from the Internet.
The controversy was sparked in part by Syracuse University professor Dr. Boyce Watkins, who called the online ad “arguably the most racist commercial in history.”
In the 60-second spot, a battered white woman is asked by a police officer to identify a suspect out of a lineup of black men that includes members of Odd Future and Trash Talk, along with Tyler’s character, Felicia the Goat. Some viewers took offense to the ad, noting that all the suspects were black and all of the cops were white.
Tyler defended his art in an interview with Billboard. “There’s no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all—which I’m confused by,” he said. “But this older black dude, Dr. Boyce Watkins, I guess he found it racist because I was portraying stereotypes, which is ridiculous because, one, all of those dudes [in the lineup] are my friends.”
He continued the conversation on Twitter. “This Man Keeps Bringing Up Black People. STOP! Everything Does Not Have To Do With The Color Of Skin. How Do You Think Like That?” he tweeted. “Some People Keep Feeding Into This Racism Cycle That They Claim They Are Trying To Rid From The World… Yeah Right Dr.”
Dr. Watkins posted a 22-minute video sharing his thoughts. “I refuse to hate or fight this dude. I would gladly support him in his deal with Mountain Dew as long as there is adequate oversight,” he said. “When u put images in media, u have to think about the images u send out. Black kids don’t need to be further brainwashed into criminality.”
Mountain Dew has pulled the ad, which was never intended to air on television. “We apologize for this video and take full responsibility,” the company said in a statement. “We have removed it from all Mountain Dew channels and Tyler is removing it from his channels as well.”
Tyler has directed at least one more commercial for Mountain Dew, but it’s unknown if it will see the light of day.
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