volkswagon dont worry mon

One of the major Superbowl Sunday attractions is always the outlandish commercials and the money spent on them. One commercial already making the spotlight is Volkswagen’s “Sunny Side” ad which features a white guy named Dave expressing his happiness to his co-workers while speaking in a Jamaican accent.

At the beginning of the commercial, Dave is in an elevator with his grumpy co-workers and tells his co-workers “No worries, mon. Everyting will be all right.” Eventually the happiness becomes contagious and everyone is sitting in the backseat of Dave’s “happy mobile” with their insta-accents.

A few critics have complained about this commercial being “insensitive”. On NBC’s The Today ShowBarbara Lippert, editor-at-large at mediapost.com, said she believed the commercial was racist because it was “just saying that black people are happy.” New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow said during an appearance on CNN that the advertisement was like “blackface with voices.”

Interestingly enough, Jamaican officials don’t seem to understand why everyone’s making a fuss over it.  Opposition lawmaker, Ed Bartlett feels the commercial “is a perfect illustration of Jamaican culture’s global reach and our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations.”  Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill thinks the Super Bowl commercial has the potential to increase tourist arrivals. “I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally,” McNeill said in a late Tuesday statement.

Even the legendary Jimmy Cliff, who is the voice of Get Happy, is actually pretty happy with the ad. On his Facebook page he stated:

I chose to record the song that’s part of the Volkswagen Super Bowl campaign because it has a great message and it is something that people can apply to everyday life. I have travelled around the world many times, met all types of people and played in front of millions throughout my career. I have personally seen the positive effects of reggae music and Jamaican culture. I am a proud Jamaican and stand by this campaign, I feel like people need to focus on peace and unity. Blessed love.

Could it be that the majority of the people who find this commercial racist, don’t have a sense of humor and don’t realize Jamaica isn’t just made up of black people with accents, but Asian, White and Latino as well? On CNN’s Starting Point, Volkswagen’s marketing officer,Tim Mahoney said, “We actually talked to about 100 Jamaicans in the research, and we had a speech coach on site to make sure it was as authentic as possible.”

What’s your opinion? Do you think the ad is racist?

  • Smilez_920

    No it’s not racist… It’s a funny commercial. We have way more important things happening in our community ( heck in even Jamaica) that we should probably be focusing on, other than this commercial.

    Sheesh cry over something that really matters and not things like this.

  • AJW

    i’m Jamaican, and I found it to be cute and funny. Not offensive in any way. I doubt any Jamaican would either.

  • Yb

    The Jamaican accent was fucking horrible, over used with stereotypical Jamaican phrases and the commercial was wack.

    But many Jamacians said they had no problem with the commercial, so if they, like many Black Americans, can’t realize when whites are laughing at them and exploiting their image, that’s on them.

  • Muse

    I thought the commercial was hilarious! It’s harmless. Now if he was screaming “I AM THE JAMAICAN DUN DUTTA!” and jumping off office desks to “dagger” his co-workers, I’d have a problem.

  • Penny

    I actually know white people with Jamaican accents…maybe that’s why I don’t the issue. LOL.

  • stef

    it was a funny commercial , im lost on why people are upset, really i bet the people who complained only knows Jamaicans from listening to bob marley and when they visit hedonism in JA.

    i also recommend people watch ” my white Jamaican dad” on you tube . too funny

  • P

    All I can say is “thank you, Clutch”. I like this commercial. I think it is cute and laughable. In my opinion, it is also paying respect to the Jamaican’s culture. A very sort after accent as well as charismatic (it is cool). White or black – I don’t know anyone who would NOT like to express themselves with a Jamaican’s accent.

  • Pseudonym

    Yeah, we really gotta figure out how to create some more jobs b/c idle people have nothing better to do than cry about this…

  • Kacey

    I think it’s a stupid commercial…not racist, just stupid.

  • Yb

    The Jamaican accent was horrible, over used with stereotypical Jamaican phrases and the commercial was wack.

    But many Jamaicans said they had no problem with the commercial, so if they, like many Black Americans, can’t realize when whites are laughing at them and exploiting their image, that’s on them.

  • Apple

    You know what at first I almost was offended then I remembered I’m not from the Caribbean so why would I be? If they like it then I love it!

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    lmao @ “dagger his co-workers”

  • AM

    I L.O.V.E. it.

    Even the bossman at the end is feeling the good vibes!! haha.

  • Dee

    I laughed.

    I think it would have been funnier if it was a black person with a confused look on their face when he started speaking.

  • Kay

    I rhink people don’t like the “I hate Monday’s,” refrain in the beginning and then the pseudo Black Caribbean accent, because apparently, “Monday,” is also a reference to Black people, since no one really likes Mondays since it is the first day of the work week. The reference extends the dislike to African Americans too, so maybe that’s where the cries of “racism,” come from.

  • http://gravatar.com/afrosaxon1 afrosaxon1

    I’m British Jamaican. I have mixed feelings about the advert. On the one hand, yes not all Jamaicans are ‘black’ so technically this shouldn’t be a black issue. However, in the eyes of most non-Jamaican whites, Jamaicans are black. We all know this. I think my problem is that black culture is always portrayed as comedic in a way that white culture isn’t. I am uncomfortable with the advert for the same reason I’m uncomfortable when people wear afro wigs as comedy. It might be well intentioned, but it still reinforces the idea that our hair is comedic, unprofessional etc…
    I hate the ‘happy -go-lucky’ stereotype of Jamaicans, because white people are generally quite condescending and patronising about it. In a strange way, I find it a rather de-humanising. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive, but unfortunately the white establishment has historically acted in a way that makes me automatically suspicious of them and very protective when they use images of my culture.

  • http://gravatar.com/afrosaxon1 afrosaxon1

    “But many Jamacians said they had no problem with the commercial, so if they, like many Black Americans, can’t realize when whites are laughing at them and exploiting their image, that’s on them.”. This is a good point. Just because a culture/group accepts their exploitation, it does not mean they are not being exploited. Not saying that this is necessarily the case for the advert, but a good point nontheless.

  • Fa

    This made me laugh! I live in Barbados where white, black, and brown people speak with the thickest Bajan accents and in Jamaica it’s no different. Ya, this dude is from Minnesota but it’s a bloody good commercial.

  • Fa

    hahahahah@ Dagger!!!

  • Ajw

    How is this exploitation? We Jamaicans are not ashamed or bothered by people wanting to mimic our accent/dialect. In this particular context they are not even being condescending , if anything they are praising the optimistic and happy going mentality Jamaican culture strives to promote. Jamaicans are the last culture anyone in their right mind would attempt to minimize or make fun of in a negative way, because we’d most definitely rectify that In a way that’s not to be reckoned with.

  • Ajw

    How is this exploitation? We Jamaicans are not ashamed or bothered by people wanting to mimic our accent/dialect. In this particular context they are not being condescending , if anything they are praising the optimistic and happy going mentality Jamaican culture promotes. Jamaicans are the last culture anyone in their right mind would attempt to minimize or make fun of in a negative way, because we’d most definitely rectify that In a way that’s not to be reckoned with.

  • Jaslene

    No it doesn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/mike_primeau lostprimeau… (@mike_primeau)

    just because some people will sellout there culture for financial stability; its still not right; white Americans can’t understand American Indian culture appropriation such as the Washington redskins…throwing money at poor folks is not about showing pride for culture but bigoted cultural abuse…

  • http://www.facebook.com/marjorie.michel3 Marjorie

    It was funny! The line about the sticky bun got me. If Jimmy Cliff is fine with it so I am…

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    “I think my problem is that black culture is always portrayed as comedic in a way that white culture isn’t.”

    Exactly!

  • Angie

    Accent is actually not bad. And they did their research as far as the dialect and references within the commercial. Also, many Jamaicans are not Black. Assuming that is just ignorant.

  • Starla

    The commercial was hilarious. VW can get away with this because Germany and Jamaica has had a long-standing relationship. There are many German expats in Jamaica. Puma supports many of the notable Jamaican athletes, including Usain Bolt. Jamaica was voted as the coolest country, so there are many things to take in consideration here.

    Now if he was smoking weed, getting high, and shouting Jah-Rastafari..I would give it the side eye.

  • Von

    Everyone is complaining about the accent but Jimmy Cliff did the voice and last I checked he is Jamaican.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Agreed! The line of “it’s like blackface with voices” killed their argument for me. I remember the first time I heard a white person with a Jamaican accent, I did a double take and I still get a bit tickled when I hear a black person with a British or French accent. But the commercial is okay to me; I was giving it a side eye at first because the startup was slow but it all came together in the end and it made sense. I think people throw the “R” word around to loosely. I would see if they had the guy in the “stereotypical” image of a Jamaican coupled with the Jamaican accent, then I would call foul but this I call “delaying the game” let’s get back to serious issues people.

  • Camryn

    Out of many…One people.

  • Yb

    Where did I assume all Jamaicans are black? Stop projecting your views on me.

    And you are a damned liar if you think the first image that pops in your mind when some one says “Jamaican” is not a black one. Ask the typical American what the think a Jamaican looks like and you’ll get your answer.

    There are many non black Jamaicans, like their are many non black Nigerians and ghananians but they don’t live with the stigma and burden of Jamaican stereotypes because they benefit from not looking “like a typical Jamaican”.

    If you and many Jamacians have no issue with this commercial well then cool. Like I stated before that’s on them.

  • http://gravatar.com/petrona1 PKZ

    I am Jamaican and I loved this commercial. Out of many, one people is our motto and it is significant because we are not all just “blacks” on the island. We are made up of many races, creeds and color. When I saw this commercial on Yahoo I tagged my fellow Jamaicans, who loved it too, so seriously those nay-sayers need to chill out!

  • Angie

    “so if they, like many Black Americans, can’t realize when whites are laughing at them and exploiting their image, that’s on them.”
    Your words… “Whites laughing at them”. Actually, many Black Jamaicans are laughing.
    People actually familiar with the Jamaican culture will tell you that there is a big European, Chinese, Spanish, and Indian history in Jamaica and with that come many colors. I can’t speak for Nigeria or Ghana, since I have not visited and will not speak just for the hell of it.

  • Keshia

    It’s funny until a black person starts speaking in a Becky voice. I think it’s a bit insensitive just like when whites mock Native American and Asian cultures. It did kinda rub me the wrong way

  • camille

    Just playing devil’s advocate, but does “the people of Jamaica” giving it the thumbs up really matter? I’ve known West Indians who live in the US as well as those who don’t. One thing that is very clear to me is that, in general, their perception of racism is quite different than that of a Black American. I’ve even heard Black West Indians proclaim that the term “Black” really only pertains to Black Americans. Black Americans seem to be more acutely aware of the slippery slope of caricature and why you just can’t give white people an inch

  • camille

    Completely agree with YB. This is an AMERICAN commercial. It was made to make Americans laugh about Jamaican stereotypes

  • M. Smith

    I am a black american, and I LOVE IT MON.

  • M. Smith

    Be happy, don’t worry. That song always made people smile, this commercial makes me feel the same way that song made me feel. There’s black people in Italy, France, all of Europe, would you be insulted if we use a French accent. No, forget about it.

  • mEE

    ok thank you for this.

    I’m Jamaican as well, born and raised, and I didn’t get what the problem was. but that’s probably because when people start speaking in a fake Jamaican accent I tend to tune them out and go about my business. still I don’t necessarily find it offensive.

    as I was watching it and reading the article, I was thinking, there has to be a legitimate reason who this might offend someone, but I can’t figure it out right now. your explanation makes perfect sense. I’m not suddenly offended now but I feel where you’re coming from and it’s a totally valid point.

  • Blackmon

    I know they don’t mean to be offensive, but it’s just 2 minutes of what they do on new comedies like New Girl and Happy Endings, where White people use the way that they think African American’s speak as a joke I was watching a show last night and I cringed when they used the phrase “You go girl”

    I’m not even mad, but they had ONE black person in the entire commercial and you couldn’t even see their face!

  • Kay

    Why all the negative feedback? I was only saying SOME people have been known to use it that way and maybe SOME people would take it that way. Though, I’m not really offended by the commercial, it just didn’t seem all that funny to me.

  • TypeA

    I once had an Indian guy in my Spanish class with a Jamaican accent, because his mother was from there. If that is not diversity, I do not know what is.

  • http://gravatar.com/addassamari Gail

    I am Jamaican and I love this commercial. It echoes our National Motto: Out of Many One People. See, in Jamaica we do not have Hyphenated-Jamaicans, just Jamaicans. Frankly, the folks who are crying “racism” need to grow up, this is just distraction from serious incidents of racism. It is all irie mon!

  • Mama Mia

    If you’ve noticed, the people who like to cry “racism” the most are African Americans. They are a very sensitive group. Most Caribbeans could care less of this commercial, many even find it funny.

  • Mama Mia

    This was actually a nice commercial. He had that accent down packed. I know I will get tons of thumbs down for agreeing with the “white man”, but this wasn’t really insulting in any way (at least to me). Everything can’t be looked at subjectively.

  • kaucri

    Um…have you never heard of the U.S.’s motto, on all of our money, which is ALSO “from many, one?” I think it would serve Jamaicans well (regardless of race) to remember who chose that motto- i know sure as h*ll blacks didn’t choose it in North America and I bet blacks In Jamaica didn’t either.

    I’m not trying to bash Jamaica but I will admit I’m trying to sayBe Real. It’s racism. White people are appropriating black culture in a way they would never do for fellow whites. It’s ok to trade with them. It’s ok to have an economic loss or benefit with with them. But once you start pretending there is no CULTURAL LOSS by letting them ridicule your culture, well…that is the beginning of the end, which has been continuing for quite some time for all of us unlucky afro-descendants who ended up on this side of the globe.

    Stop kidding yourselves, white German VW people are NOT your Jamaican brethren.

  • http://gravatar.com/petrona1 PKZ

    Create your own battle in your head and just leave the Jamaicans out of it. We lose nothing by having a jovial, can-do attitude represented by a Jamaican accent. Those who seek insult can find it anywhere they look. We, the many colors of Jamaica chose our motto when we gained Independence from Britain. Thank you very much.

  • Hmmm…

    “…our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations.”

    Ha!

  • ALo

    Its not racist. Clearly the dialect is Jamaican and I agree that Jamaicans are not only Black. For all we know, the guy just got back from Jamaica where he rented a VW. These critics are overreacting.

  • NY’s Finest

    Exactly!!! If they don’t have a problem with the commercial why should I?

  • kima

    I am not offended by the commercial. But I was somewhat uncomfortable watching it. Most people associate a Jamaican accent with black skin; black people are often portrayed as lazy and not serious about work or anything else, while whites are portrayed as being “about their business”. There are are no black people shown working in this office. In the commercial, the people without the accent seem to be hard at work, while the guy with the accent is at work, but never shown working. He just seems to be wandering around, chatting with his co-workers, getting coffee. In the meeting, the company outlook is described as dismal. Instead of getting to work to improve this, this guy takes a break to go driving around, convinces his coworkers to join him and then returns late from the break.

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