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A controversial advertisement that some have deemed to be racist is actually being embraced in the country of Jamaica, according to The Huffington Post. We’re not sure if they polled a large percentage of Jamaicans to see what they think, but some might be inclined to believe that an ad featuring a white man speaking with a Jamaican accent was not designed as a tribute to Jamaican culture.
Barbara Lipper, editor-at-large for mediapost.com, says that she was concerned about the ad because it says that black people are just happy all the time for no good reason. New York Times columnist Charles Blow says that the ad was “blackface with voices.”
But the Jamaican government has endorsed the ad, with lawmaker Edmund Bartlett stating that the ad “is a perfect illustration of Jamaican culture’s global reach and our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations.”
Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill even expects that the ad will help to increase tourism in his country.
“I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally,” McNeill said in a statement.
At a Kingston bus stop, office assistant Jennifer Blake said she saw the Volkswagen advertisement online and thought it was amusing to see an American trying to speak patois.
“I’m not sure why people would think it was offensive or anything,” she said Wednesday, adding that many of her friends have shared links to the commercial on social media.
Nearly all islanders, regardless of class, can speak and understand the country’s patois. Jamaica’s official language is standard English, but many people cannot speak it.
Those who speak standard English fluently, mostly people from the middle and upper classes, tend to use patois for emphasis or to affect a down-to-earth persona.
A representative for Volkswagen of America said Wednesday morning that the company has no plans to pull the Super Bowl spot.
“As of this morning, we received no consumer calls or complaints about our ad. In fact, we’ve only received positive endorsements,” Scott Vazin, a company spokesman, said in an email.
To view the ad, click here.