Reporting Erik Parker
Mountain Dew’s latest Tyler, the Creator-helmed campaign fizzled out after critics called the spots racist and insensitive to battered women. Tyler recently spoke out against the ad’s detractors who lobbied to have the commercials removed.
“It’s a black guy making this, and if it’s so racist and feeding into stereotypes, why in the first commercial that goes along with it, is there a black male with his Asian wife?” Tyler tells Billboard. “In the second commercial, it’s a black male with a professional job as a police officer listening to hardcore rock music — which supposedly the stereotype is that black people don’t listen to that. The stereotypes are what I’m confused on, no one was even thinking about that.”
The Tyler-directed series included a four-part story, one of which has not been shown. In Part 1, a peculiar goat, voiced by Tyler, abuses a waitress who offers him a Mountain Dew. The second spot finds the goat being pulled over while speeding in a car, presumably drunk off of too many Dews.
The third ad shows a group of black men (members of Tyler’s Odd Future crew and Trash Talk) in a police line-up with the goat. While an officer coaxes the battered waitress to point out the culprit, the goat can be heard threatening her from the other side of the window.
Syracuse University professor Dr. Boyce Watkins was the loudest voice in opposition, calling it “arguably the most racist commercial in history.” The spots were also widely criticized for displaying an insensitivity to violence against women.
In response to Tyler’s spots, Boykins released a video in which he calls Tyler brilliant and lays blame on the Mountain Dew suits who green-lit the concepts. He also aims shots at Lil Wayne, another Mountain Dew spokesperson.
While Tyler did not address the critics who said his spot was insensitive to women who have been abused, he said his art will remain unaffected.
“I mean, it’s not gonna change my art in any way,” he said. “I just hope that somehow, if it gets bigger or if it disappears tomorrow, that it just opens people’s minds up. I just actually can’t believe that somebody sat there and pointed out that it was all black people, instead of being confused that it was a freaking goat talking. That’s mind-blowing. That’s mind-blowing that people still think like that.”