Thursday, March 10, 2016

"Racist" toothpaste commercial

They refer to this as a racist commercial, but really, I mean really, it's as anti-racist as anything I've ever seen.

It mocks racism; it shows the hollow, knee-jerk core of racism for what it is: a snap judgment based on the merest showing of a racial difference, in total ignorance and total defiance of the facts.

The black athlete in this commercial is clearly the good guy, and the stupid mom is clearly the bad guy. She jumped to the wrong conclusion. Amazing, really. The mom is Thai, this is a Thai commercial, and the athlete is black, obviously a foreigner.

"Darlie" toothpaste was originally "Darkie" toothpaste. The logo was a minstrel show makeup'd black man in a top hat, with a giant, toothy grin. At some point, twenty or thirty years ago, even in Thailand that became untenable. So they changed the name to "Darlie" and dropped the image. That was progress, and this commercial was progress, too.

I give the company top marks for making this commercial in an obvious attempt to atone for their casual, racist past.

To me, Thai TV commercials are among the best in the world. Some of them are screamingly funny; others are just graphically brilliant; many are poignant little stories that often have nothing at all to do with the product that is being advertised. Like this one.

Thailand is a fascinating place. It may appear unsophisticated to many viewers, but deep, hidden sophistication comes into focus pretty quickly for anyone who takes the time to think a bit. I'm lucky to live here, and I hope they let me stay for a long time.

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