Super Bowl feud: Coke commercial panders to Arab ‘camel jockey’ stereotypes
The 'Badlanders' enter the fray, desperate to grab the Coca Cola mirage. (Photo courtesy of cokechase.com)
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Arab-Americans are up in arms over a commercial for Coca-Cola due to be aired during this year’s Super Bowl game.
A teaser of the ad campaign released online shows a camel-leading Arab racing to reach an oversized bottle of Coke, encountering cowboys, Vegas-style showgirls and a post-apocalyptic gang modelled on the marauders in the movie “Mad Max,” along the way.
The parched Arab spots the glistening Coke bottle on the horizon and sighs with relief before the other characters, whooping and cheering, ride in to take the prize.
Viewers are encouraged to vote online for the character they want to win the race, but voting for the Arab is not an option.
The website - www.cokechase.com - features biographical information on the Cowboys, Showgirls and Badlanders, which play into the U.S. frontier mythology and the glamour and glitz of showbiz.
In the context of recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, it’s no surprise that the ads, which essentially show an Arab being dispossessed by gung-ho Hollywood figures and scantily-clad women, has caused a stir.
The ad has provoked both outrage and bemusement at Coke's intentions.
Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC, asked Reuters: “Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?”
CBS is due to air the advert during the game on Sunday, when about 100 million people are expected to tune in.
“What message is Coke sending with this?” Abed Ayoub, ADC's director of legal and policy affairs, asked Reuters. “By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial.”
Coke has responded to the criticism by saying it took a “cinematic” approach, and that the characters were references to old movies.
Do you think the advert is racist? Would it have been OK if viewers could vote for the Arab character? Comment below.
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