MEDIA WATCH Racism is a crime
IF an advertisement by a laundry detergent maker in China was raw and racist, the way the offending company has gone about issuing an apology is worse, which makes the whole episode shameful. The commercial was panned last week as the ‘worst ever’ advertisement. Now the detergent manufacturer is blaming foreign (non Chinese) media for over-playing the clip, which went viral and was criticised around the world. People expressed their shock and outrage over the portrayal of Africans.
Under fire from all sides, the detergent company hurriedly withdrew the offensive ad and issued an apology, which sounded far from convincing. To recap, the clip showed a black man trying to flirt with an Asian woman, who pushes him into a washing machine after she pops some detergent into his mouth. At the end of the wash cycle he emerges a Chinese man. Black turns white, or clean, anyway you look at it. The message was clear, only that the company in question did not deem it inappropriate or insensitive to people of a different race or continent. The laundry detergent maker didn’t help matters with this sham of an apology. “We express regret that the ad should have caused a controversy. We express our apology for the harm caused to the African people because of the spread of the ad and over-amplification by the media,” the company said. It then went on to ask the public and the media not to ‘over-read’ it. But the damage was done. Here’s the truth. Race relations have hit a new low in many countries and attacks against Africans have been reported in India. In a connected and networked world, these incidents show racism is rife. Denial is common. Blaming the media is the best course of action for those facing flak. In this scenario, it’s important to sensitise communities. The media can play an important role, but only if governments wake up to issues of discrimination and racism and brand them as crimes. — Khaleej Times