The controversial Super Bowl
Volkswagen ad that some critics had already deemed racist aired during the second quarter of Sunday's game anyway, despite demands for the auto company to cancel the spot.
The 60-second commercial, titled "Get In, Get Happy," features Dave, the Beetle-driving white lead character from Minnesota. "No worries, mon, every-ding will be all right," Dave tells his grumpy workmates. "Turn da frown dee other way around." The general conceit is that driving a VW can turn a crummy day into a sunny day.
"If you look at the whole intent of the commercial for us, it's about making people happy," Scott Vazin, a VW spokesman, told the Washington Post
last week. "The idea is to put a smile on your face. It’s simple and human and humorous. Some people are over-thinking this one."
The ad was posted on the German automaker's YouTube page Jan. 27, ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast, and had critics and the Twitterverse up in arms.
"I was shocked. This is so racist," said Barbara Lippert of Mediapost.com on NBC's "Today" show last week, while Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who is black, told CNN Jan. 28 that the ad was "blackface with voices."
Christopher John Farley, a Jamaican-born journalist, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week that the accents reminded him of the controversial character Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars movies, who used a Caribbean accent and broken English for comedic effect.
"It’s off-putting to see the island spirit used as a punchline," Farley wrote.
After the ad aired during the Super Bowl, some people took to Twitter to express their outrage.
But others have spoken out in favor of the ad. "Today" show host Matt Lauer defended it during the segment featuring Lippert last week.
"I take a completely different view of it, to be honest with you," Lauer shot back. "I thought, if you buy this car, it puts you in a happy place."
Others Twitter users agreed.
Volkswagen said it tested the ad with consumers, including about 100 Jamaicans, and got no negative feedback. Since controversy sparked after the commercial was posted online, Vazin told the Washington Post the company has gotten "many" positive comments from the public, including Jamaicans.
"The response has been: 'We get it. Accents don't have a color,'" he said.
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