By now you may have already seen Mary J. Blige sing her heart out on behalf of the “exciting things happening” at Burger King, namely its crispy chicken snack wrap. Or, you may have clicked on a link that was supposed to lead to the commercial but found that the spot had already been removed. The video spread quickly yesterday and was met with a collective “WTF?” from the internet community, so it seems that even Burger King has figured out that there’s something funky about the ad besides Mary’s signature soulful vocals.

But there’s not really one glaring problem with the ad, there are a few problems, each of which contribute to a general feeling of malaise that’s hard to ignore.

1. Yet Another Black Person Singing About Fast Food Chicken. Watching MJB put her whole back into singing a fried chicken carol forces me to ponder how far we’ve come as a people, a contemplation that I just don’t have time for in 2012. Annie The Chicken Queen of Popeye’s fame comes to mind, as does McDonald’s Chicken McNugget r&b love song. The stereotype about black folks loving chicken is hundreds of years old, yet it seems more rampant in fast food advertising of the past few years than ever before. We clearly have larger issues to worry about than the proliferation of old myths, but when a legitimate commercial seems to mirror itself after a spoof of its own subgenre, there’s a problem.

2. She Seems Crazy For No Good Reason. The other ads in the new Burger King campaign feature Jay Leno, Salma Hayek, and David Beckham but none of these have been removed from the chain’s Youtube channel. They’re all a little bit weird, from Salma’s Spanish-language effort in a nerd costume, to Jay Leno driving one of his classic cars inside of a Burger Kin to grab some BK with a random black friend in the passenger seat. But at least all of these spokespeople portray actual customers who behave relatively normally by approaching the counter to buy some food. For some reason, Mary J is dressed in strange biker chick wear, so excited about snack wraps that she’s interrupting a random patron to shout their praises from the middle of the restaurant. The song is a remix of “Don’t Mind” with lyrics about fresh lettuce and French dressing instead of the original words. It sounds like something you’d make up with friends while acting goofy, crack up about for a minute, and then redeem yourself by making sure that everyone you’re cackling with is registered to vote.

3. Those Snack Wraps Look Nasty. Food photography is a wonderful thing, and that’s why the burger you get from an actual restaurant never looks like the ones you see on television. Yet these crispy chicken wraps look nasty even when they’re all dressed up! Sure MJB has done commercials in the past, so I’m not arguing that I’m supposed to believe she’d eat a snack wrap any more than I’d believe she uses any particular product…I know she is not eating those things. But it’s downright impossible to believe that anyone would see this commercial and (on the way to buying Mary J Blige’s new album My Life II…The Journey Continues, of course) head over to Burger King expecting something worth singing over.

What do you think?

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    I like Burger King-I don’t eat there, but I do love my whopper every appearance of a blue moon. May the good Lord help them as they try to increase their market share.

  • http://twitter.com/iamclairekent Claire Kent

    I am such a huge Mary fan. And yes this commercial did come as a disappointment. 1. i agree with everything you mentioned in this blog and post. 2. Being a big fan that I am I still hear the uncertainity at times in Mary (on the Love & Life album) she says she doesn’t know if she has fulfilled her purpose and there are times that I have wanted to say “you have done that and more”. She is the best. She is such a prolific person and individual. If strength was embodied in a human being she is that. Today I actually seen the Jay Leno commerical and have yet to see the Selma Hyak (sp) commercial and I felt bad in a way for being one of the people that bugged out about Mary’s commercial cause she was just having fun, but again, I don’t think she really realizes what she means to the black community. I am not suggesting her life revolves around our opinion of her and what she does, but I am sure she went back and forth about this before she did it. She truly is a spokeswoman for our strength and vitality. She is important especially now with black leaders rising up like Obama solidifying our strength as a community. There are far greater issues that we as a people or atleast I was expecting to hear her take on it. She may not even be the most eloquent speaker, but she is one of the most genuine and sincerly passionate public figures, and influential that I have seen in my time. We need her voice in hearing why Trayvon Martin is not alive, and whats right and wrong. We need to hear bring our troops home and to continue striving for virtue and value. Other reasons greater… for more reasons than dry looking chicken. I think this is a blessing for her, though it must SUCK, I can’t imagine) this entire ordeal because I think she is now going to realize “hey, I did accomplish what I set out to do..and this is who I am”. no love lost though, Mary is my GIRL! i will always love Mary but this was not for her to do. She is not only the Queen of Hip Hop Soul she is truly a Queen. Sorry Mary, your fans love you so much, we can’t help but you esteem you and keep you the pedestal you worked so hard to stand on.

  • mamareese

    Wait hold up. MJ been in this business for how long….forever. She doens’t need our two cents to go get her paper. Truth is, if they offered most of us 30% of what she got for doing it, we’d be a chicken eaten, tap dancing, minstrel show….I’m just saying. Nobody popped off at Billy D for Colt 45 or Ceelo for Sprite…..

  • LN

    Facepalm #icant #iweepformypeople

  • jazzyphile

    Great artist don’t do commercials: Bruce Springsteen, Prince, etc.

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