So Burger King has pulled a video they say was prematurely rolled out to the web — an ad in which modern-day music legend Mary J. Blige sings the praises of the chain’s new chicken wrap. But, as Jorge Rivas writes at Colorlines.com/Now, the ad is already generating buzz, and not the positive kind.
While Mary’s fans generally give her the benefit of the doubt on her paycheck-oriented projects, this ad seems particularly egregious. While accompanying spots feature Jay Leno and David Beckham politely promoting BK’s new healthy items, Mary is shown interrupting people and hawking the unhealthiest item of the bunch. (Plus… it’s fried chicken. Come on.) We’re not going to resolve the question of an artist’s duty to her legacy anytime soon, of course. But fast food has a well-dicumented role in the chronic health issues in poor communities of color, which makes watching this hurt more than usual.
So what’s the saddest part of all this? The weird icky stereotyping? The selling out to fast food in general? The longing by a few of Mary’s fans for control over a private citizen’s career decisions? The sloppy handling by Burger King? Or the fact that Mary J. Blige couldn’t or didn’t turn it down? Here’s what you had to say.
Damn, MJB, is record sales that bad where you’re promoting fast foods joints that are killing low-income and less-conscious black folks?
It’s not that bad, but why does her hair look like an Aunt Jemima headrag?
Not sure about outrage but it feels the same as if Patti LaBelle danced a jig on a Mickey D’s commercial. Mary fans probably feel that she’s beyond stuff like this. Apparently she doesn’t think so… * shrug *
To be honest with you, if MJB were promoting a vegan chicken (beans or mushroom protein) in a low-carb (collard greens or flax seed flour) wrap, and it was for a local family-owned, ethical, organic restaurant instead of BK or another national franchise — I would totally support this commercial. I mean, MJB was jamming. Amazing performance. I don’t even eat fast food, but they had me rocking to that jawn. lol. But seriously, the sister did this to pay a bill. How many of us sell out and bo-jangle for much less, and on the regular? This ain’t nothing new. :-)
Maybe they can book her for a watermelon ad next.
apk32703 in response to another commenter:
[…] Why is a she a sellout? Because she is singing about chicken? If she eats chicken and she agrees to endorse BK, please explain WHY this makes her an Aunt Tom. She can eat chicken, but not endorse it? Seriously? Millions of people eat chicken — black, white, asian, hispanic etc. If she is offered a paycheck for promoting something that she likes, is not immoral and doesn’t hurt anyone, why wouldn’t she? I say the shame is on you for putting a sister down unnecessarily, not her for doing what she loves — singing and performing.
Don’t you think that by making a big deal about a stigma, we are only making sure that it remains a big deal? Yes, I’m a white man that has no idea what it means to be a minority; that is why I’m asking. It seems to me that, for example, if the black community gets vocal about a black person liking fried chicken on a commercial, then the stigma of “other races think it’s funny when black people eat fried chicken” gets stronger from all the attention. I never would have thought about it if it were not for all the publicity it’s getting. Like I said… I don’t know… it just makes me sick that our society still has so many racial issues. PS: Fried chicken is my second favorite food (pizza is #1).
I didn’t get the chicken connection as much as I got the association with a crap brand that pushes processed garbage in (poor) communities.