Is this Offensive? [Thai Dunkin' Donuts blackface ad]

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by citizenzen, Aug 31, 2013.



  1. Yes

    5 vote(s)
  2. No

    36 vote(s)
  1. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    As a graphic designer—and staunch [white] liberal—my initial reaction is that this is not racist and shouldn't be seen as offensive. This kind of use of color in advertising design is very common, and people have been painted every hue under the sun. Is black out of bounds? I don't think it should be. IMO, it would be offensive if you colored the person black and then attributed some racially stereotypical behavior. But that doesn't appear to be the case in this ad.

    Though there are some things I question ...

    • "Charcoal Donut" — sounds terrible. Who came up with that?

    • "Break every rule of deliciousness" — This is the one aspect of the ad that borders on insensitive to me. How is the color black associated with breaking rules? This is a tagline that should never have gotten past the brainstorm stage.

    • If they had used a black model, would it have been any more or less offensive? It seems to me that pairing a black model with a "Charcoal Donut" wouldn't have been any less offensive than painting a model black.
  2. skottichan macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    I can see that it's offensive in the same way that other uses of "blackface" in culture is.

    It's pretty much emulating this;

  3. Metatron macrumors 6502


    Jul 2, 2002
    I agree, I see nothing racist about a staunch [white] conservative. But we live in a PC world with Facebook users. So everyone is oversensitive and wants to make news/drama. A charcoal donut does sound awful, and I think a black model would have made this news worse. How it breaks the rules...your guess is a good as mine. Maybe Thailand is more PC about race?
  4. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    The difference is that the example you posted was supposed to "be" a black person. Anything that person did was intended to reflect on the black race and the stereotypes associated with it.

    Was there any similar connection with the person in the ad?

    I don't see it. I just see a woman painted black.
  5. skottichan macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    I think it's more of a mix of a "first glance" and the fact that tacit racism isn't dead. Also, it's not my place as a white woman, to tell people of color what they should or shouldn't be offended by. If people find it racist, it's their prerogative, it's like men trying to tell me that Dr Pepper 10's initial ad campaign wasn't inherently sexist.

    While this ad isn't overt as say Dr Pepper 10's, I can still see why some people are up in arms about it. It's blackface, but was it meant to be hurtful on purpose, I doubt it. It's like people on this site using "girly" in a negative context to describe iOS7's color palette, it is sexist in that tacit way.

    Personally, looking at it from a design standpoint, it seems kind of lazy. I think they could have done it a lot better, I would have gone with someone mining them (and yes, I know charcoal is the byproduct of burned wood).
  6. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    I'm not offended. If anybody is, they need to get a grip.
  7. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Good points. I'd be curious to hear the opinions from any members of color here in PRSI.

    As to the ad concept, yes it was lazy, relying on the trite "put you product in the hands of a young, pretty woman" and that will sell.

    But wait ... here's a really wild and crazy idea ... let's take that young, pretty woman and paint her black.

    How original.


    I like your mining idea better.
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    descending into the Maelström
  9. Michael Goff Suspended

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    Yes, as a white conservative you probably don't find anything offensive about something racially insensitive about black people.

    I wonder why.

    *hint: Not calling you a racist.
  10. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    No, not offensive. Still have to wonder why they didn't just use a black model though?

  11. Michael Goff Suspended

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    They likely just found a cheap model and she happened to be white.

    Even if it is cringe-worthy, it likely wasn't meant to be racist. It was just a poor decision.
  12. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Here's what the video version of the ad looks like:

  13. Michael Goff Suspended

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    I take it back, that's horrible. -_-
  14. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    Well, if you're not offended, that pretty much settles that matter.

    And anyone who sees thing differently from you, and perhaps has a reasonable rationale for that difference of opinion, needs to "get a grip"?

    No hubris here....nope.:rolleyes:
  15. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    I'm not going to get drawn into the hideous lack of self-awareness over the supposed neutrality of the white male gaze and how citizenzen is seeking affirmation for his views from an audience of predominantly young white male nerds... who just can't get what the problem is.

    For a start, go pose the same question to an audience that matters in this instance, like black women.

    But damn. That donut looks burnt. Not edible at all.
  16. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    That's a very bizarre claim.

    Where does that come from?


    I have no control of the audience in this forum.
  17. Michael Goff Suspended

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    But you would have an idea of the demographic found here.
  18. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    It's one of those things that wouldn't be offensive in isolation. It's not really degrading anyone, or leaning on any stereotypes.

    Though as pointed out above, it does look uncomfortably close to blackface, know...has connotations. So you could say it's offensive by association. BUT...

    My opinion is that I can understand why some people are offended by it, but the more important aspect are the intentions of the creator moreso than the knee-jerk reactions of some of the audience. As long as there's something more to it than just shock value, then the implied meaning takes precedence over the assumed. Just because it could remind some people of something bad doesn't necessarily mean it's terrible and insensitive by default.
  19. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010

    This is the forum where I discuss social and political issues.

    Are we only supposed to discuss issue that fit the demographic of the users here?

    When has that requirement been imposed before?

    And what is the demographic, anyway?

    I'm not intelligent enough to have figured it out.
  20. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
  21. Jesla macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2013
    Tennessee USA
    Absolutely Not…to answer the OP's question…..

    And I do not need to validate my position….

  22. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    Why? Unburnt doughnuts have all the advantages.

    Check your glaze.
  23. decafjava macrumors 68030


    Feb 7, 2011
    Errr the ad was made in Thailand for a well ... Thai audience. What does white male gaze have to do with it? Unless the agency responsible was in the US and some white dude thought it up.

    That said I cringed ... and the doughnut looks pretty gross.
  24. JohnLT13 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2012
    Boston (aka Red Sox Nation)
    I like it. I want a donut now.
  25. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    What's up with the hairdo? I think the combination of black faced and that hairdo is what probably turned some heads.

    Truth is ..... Some black women still rock those types of hair styles, they even have black hair shows which many styles are similar to this one. If they just kept the hair the same when she was white(referring to video), I doubt anyone would have taken it the wrong way.

    Definitely not racist, but even I would glance twice.

    Now let me tell you what's racist ........ Those Popeyes Cajun commercials.

Share This Page