December 12, 2010

Racist cupcakes vs. chiefs

Sugary "Hip Hop" Cupcakes Embroiled in Blackface Scandal

By Paula ForbesCupcakes, once a delightful source of sugary indulgence, later a cliched trend much derided on blogs like this one, have sunk to a new low: racial controversy. A video for Duncan Hines' Amazing Glazes has angered viewers for its depiction of, uh, cupcakes in black face. Racist cupcakes? Facing criticism, Duncan Hines pulled the video from YouTube.

Author Tim Wise imagines how these cupcakes came about:

When Multicultural Marketing Goes Horribly WrongPR pitch man (speaking in what he apparently considers authentic black English):  “C’mon shawty, why you gotta be a buster? I ain’t tryin’ to hear ‘dat. Just peep this, yo: the joint starts with some lame-ass yellow cupcakes. And then, this white lady with smoove hands starts pouring black frostin’ all up on they shit. And jus’ when folks are like, ‘what the fuck is this?’ some nice, full lips pop up on top, and some eyes too! And they start rockin’ some funky-fresh beats, while the white lady is all up on the phone with one of her homegirls from the muh’fuckin’ PTA!”

White Female:  “Wait, wait, wait, isn’t this racist? And why are you talking like that? Is that how you think black people talk? And you think people are going to buy blackface cupcakes?! Is this what we paid you for?!”
Comment:  These cupcakes are kinda like "Indian chief" oysters, beef jerky, or plumbing supplies--except there are thousands of these products and no one thinks they're remarkable.

These products are equally wrong, so people should be equally offended by them. Yet for some reason, they're not.

Until they are, people like me will continue to highlight the disparity in our reactions to blackface and redface. The former is routinely condemned while the latter is routinely cheered.

For more on the subject, see Indigenous Imagery in Corporate Logos, The Hipster Headdress Challenge, and Rob Plays "Oppression Olympics"?


dmarks said...

Tim Wise has written extensively in favor of racism he likes (such as governments refusing to hire people if they have the the wrong skin color). But like a stopped clock, even that racist sometimes gets it right.

Anonymous said...

You can find it especially in states without a lot of Indians. The fewer Indians there are, the more likely the local businesses will "borrow" Indian identity, e.g. Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins.