A Popchips ad featuring Ashton Kutcher playing an Indian man in brownface has been yanked after complaints of racism, the AP reports. (Gawker notes that a "composite" version of the ad, which still features clips of the character, remains available on YouTube.) The ad, designed to look like a commercial for a dating service, "was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone," a rep for the snack company says in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "At Popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors, and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended."
A sample of the reactions:
- "I can't imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent in order to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course," writes Anil Dash in a lengthy and thoughtful blog post detailing how Popchips should respond.
- Dash, Margaret Lyons at Vulture, and Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel all point out that the initial media coverage of the ad made no mention whatsoever of its offensiveness. Lyons goes on to call the ad "discomfitingly racist," noting that it uses "imagery that is primarily seen elsewhere as a means to degrade and marginalize people."
- And it’s not even funny, Ryan adds. "I defy you to watch the spot without feeling like you want to crawl out of your skin so you can crawl back inside and hide until it's over. It's that bad."