Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective Odd Future isn’t afraid of a little controversy. That much became clear on Wednesday amid outrage over a series of Mountain Dew commercials created by frontman Tyler, the Creator. One of the ads features a battered white woman at a police station line-up trying to identify her attacker. The suspects are all men (members of Odd Future) and a menacing goat, which spends its time whispering threats to the frightened woman. Another ad shows how the woman got there: she was assaulted by the goat at a restaurant where she worked as a waitress. Critic Dr. Boyce Watkins called the ad "arguably the most racist commercial in history."
PepsiCo, which owns Mountain Dew, pulled the ad on Wednesday. Tyler, the Creator also yanked it from the group’s YouTube page. Odd Future’s manager Christian Clancy issued a lukewarm statement on Tumblr that falls pretty much in line with how Tyler, the Creator usually responds to critics: If you’re offended, you just don’t get good art. Here’s an excerpt:
It was never Tyler’s intention to offend however, offense is personal and valid to anyone who is offended. Out of respect to those that were offended and the ad was taken down. For those who know and respect Tyler he is known for pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes thru humor. This is someone who grew up on David Chappelle. This situation is layered with context and is a discussion that Tyler would love to address in the right forum as he does have a point of view. As someone who hasn’t had the experience of being discriminated against I choose to respect the opinion of those who have… what I can speak to is Tyler who represents much more than the current narrative this story suggests. Contrary to what many may discern from this Tyler is the embodiment of not judging others, his delivery may not be for everyone (which is true for anyone who pushes boundaries) but his voice is nonetheless important to the conversation since his demographic understands what he ultimately stands for and sees the irony of it all.
As Cord Jefferson pointed out at Gawker, Mountain Dew is having a particularly bad week at the intersection of race and rap.
Unfortunately, the cowering white woman vs. black men and goat was only half of Mountain Dew’s image-management problems today. Its recently hospitalized spokesperson Lil Wayne issued an apology for the verse he’d contributed in February to the Future song "Karate Chop (Remix)," in which he said that he would "beat the pussy up like Emmett Till."
To Wayne’s credit, he did issue a heartfelt apology to Emmett Till’s family.