Along with a jillion other people, I sat to watch the Superbowl last Sunday. Like everyone else, I was also eager to watch the Superbowl commercials, which are often the real stars of the broadcast. There were some winners (Betty White and Will.I.Am) and some losers (those men without pants and Go Daddy). But there was one commercial in particular that seemed to bother me. It was the Dorito's ad, when an African-American man comes to pick up his date.
The woman has a small son who is playing video games when he arrives. As the woman goes to grab her jacket or purse or last minute whatever, the man turns and visibly ogles her and then turns to sit and grabs one of the little boy's Dorito's. As he attempts to engage the boy in some small talk, the boy smacks the man, gets in his face and says don't touch his mama and don't touch his Doritos.
I don't know. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about this ad annoyed me. Something about it just wasn't funny and kind of stuck in my craw like a Big Mac I ate too fast. Maybe its how the man so disrespectfully ogled the mom in front of her child. Perhaps it's the constant emasculation of our black men, the reinforcement of the single mom as the norm or the new role we've given children as the rulers of the household.
I know, I know, it's only a commercial; they are just meant to be funny. However, with the lack of strong black men on television, eternally single black Mothers, black young men seen as goofy sex-starved slackers and out-of-wedlock bad ass black children, somehow this spot just played in to every aspect of the community that silently haunts us. And then we are supposed to laugh.
All that was missing was the hoochie teenage neighbor, thug life aspiring rapper older brother or the sassy overweight no-nonsense, neck-rolling auntie. These black archetypes are getting so tired. I'm sooooo weary of the single-mom-playboy-man-bad-kid paradigm that seems to dominate our images on TV. And now its being used to sell Dorito's. I almost long for the days of the mean black dad and the coon. At least men were in control of their households. I mean, when a child can get in your face, slap you and you sit looking petrified, how are we to believe the black man is strong and in control of anything? (President Barack Obama, not withstanding)
But on the other hand, there's no real reason why a scenario that takes place every day in the homes of single parents everywhere can't be relayed with a bit of harmless, over-the-top humor. So maybe there's no harm, no foul. It could be me. I don't know. I just feel like it's time for a new breed of stock characters in our pantheon of media representations. Am I being a hypersensitive black person (HBP)? Am I tripping? Am I PMS'ing? I mean, I can't lie, I love me some Dorito's.
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