"Not only is it messing up opportunities for me, but also maybe opportunities for another young black male who maybe looks up to me and wants to do that in the future."
Earlier this week, Mountain Dew pulled an ad spot directed by Tyler, the Creator, which scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins called "arguably the most racist commercial in history." In the clip, a battered woman attempted to identify her attacker from a police line-up comprised of young black men (played by members of Odd Future and Trash Talk) and a talking goat (Felicia the Goat, a character voiced by Tyler). Mountain Dew's parent company, PepsiCo, apologized for the ad, and Odd Future's manager, Christian Clancy, defended it in a blog post.
Now, in an interview with Billboard, Tyler has-- thoughtfully, and at length-- given his side of the story, discussing Dr. Watkins' criticisms, and outlining the intentions behind his commercial.
I look at it from his perspective. He's an older black man. It's a generation gap. He's older than me. So the things that he had to experience with racism and stereotypes and being a black man in this country, is different from mine. I grew up in a generation where there's white kids listening to rap and black kids playing hockey, breaking the norms and everything. He comes from a whole different state of mind when he sees that stuff. He probably was getting f---ed with by white people when he was my age. So for him to always have to break the [stereotype] of being a "black thug" when he was growing up, and for him to see that in a commercial, it probably hurts him.
But he has to realize that it's a different generation now. He's way older than me; he's old enough to be my father. So I totally get why he would think that, but I also don't understand why in life are you trying to point out the negatives. It's a young black man who got out of the ‘hood and made something of himself, who's now working with big, white-owned corporations. Not even in front of the camera acting silly, but directing it. I'm trying to be one of the directors. But instead of looking at the positivity from that, he's trying to boycott Mountain Dew. Now that he's doing that, not only is it messing up opportunities for me, but also maybe opportunities for another young black male who maybe looks up to me and wants to do that in the future. It's ludicrous.
Tyler also discussed the need for context in humor, how this won't affect his art and brand relationships going forward, and what the ad was meant to show. ("It was just a goat who liked Mountain Dew. He wanted more.")
Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Watkins appeared to soften his criticisms, tweeting at Tyler: "studied your music, I have an altered perspective. Still could do without the ad, but I think you were well-intended. #respect"
However as the day went on, Dr. Watkins didn't appear satisfied: Overnight he tweeted at great length about his ongoing discomfort with the situation. He said, "I'd support Tyler's right to get money from Mountain Dew. Just don't dew it on the backs of your people... you're smarter than that." He also posted a 22-minute video YouTube: "He is a brilliant dude, I will give him that until the day I die."
One of the commercials:
Tyler The Creator sat down with Elliot Wilson of RapRadar on his show Crwn to talk about the routine things, album life, etc but I will say it shows a little more maturity, clarity, and open reflection then previous interviews I’ve watched. He discusses his family, the first album Goblin and the progession to Wolf, his recent commercial collaborations and of course has a little fun with the crowd. Hour long interview but here [is part 4], enjoy.
In Part 4, Tyler gets personal about the recent death of his grandmother and its effect on him.
Part 1, 2, & 3