Accusing someone of being racist is the nuclear option in any argument. It’s tough enough as an individual – if you express a view that's subsequently labelled racist, it would be very difficult to extricate your point from the cloud of doubt that surrounds you should you have the gall to stick to your guns.
It’s a done deal. Call you racist. Argument over. Get your coat. Go home.
When the accusation hits a corporate target then there is no hiding place, like Cadbury who had to back down in the face of over 500 complaints.
I’m going to put my head on the block by saying that the racial stereotyping within the Trident gum ads is not racist.
Most of the complaints seem to focus on the original ads featuring the black poet not, as some news stories suggest, the subsequent ads where white people mimic the poet’s accent.
This is puzzling, as the wave of complaints are targeting the performance of a black actor. The problem can’t be the accent itself because there are umpteen ad campaigns where West Indian intonation is very clear (quick examples: the Lilt ladies c.2001-2003, Malibu 2003 to date, even that awful white couple from last year’s Woolwich ad; plus a whole host of white people singing the Banana Boat song in West Indian accents for Kellogg’s Fruit & Fibre in 2004).
The first Trident ads are entirely cringe-worthy. They are teeth-gnashingly, toe-curlingly, poker-in-the-eyes-ingly embarrassing to watch (but everyone remembers the brand name – so job done). I believe it’s the aesthetic awfulness of the ads that have caused offence, and firing the Trident racist nuclear missile was just an easy way of blasting the ads off the screens.
Madness? THIS! IS! SP-" [interview ends]