This Aug. 28, 2011 file photo shows Tyler the Creator posing backstage with the award for best new artist backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. PepsiCo said it immediately pulled the 60-second Mountain Dew ad after learning that people found it was offensive. The ad was part of a series developed by African-American rapper Tyler, The Creator, and depicted a battered white woman on crutches being urged to identify a suspect out of a lineup of black men.
Tyler, the Creator is standing up for his art.
In the wake of PepsiCo pulling its most recent Mountain Dew ad after it took heat for feeding into racial stereotypes, the Odd Future rapper is speaking out about the brouhaha, saying the accusations are "ridiculous."
The spot follows a bruised waitress scanning a police lineup of African-American men who are members of his group Odd Future along with Tyler voicing his character, Felicia the goat, who threatens the woman, telling her if she doesn't keep her mouth shut, he's going to "Dew you up." At that point, the waitress flees on crutches while a cop gulps down some Mountain Dew.
In a sit-down with Billboard, Tyler intimated that Dr. Boyce Watkins, the Syracuse University professor who started the controversy by tweeting his disapproval, was reading too much into it.
I guess people are claiming that it's racist, which... you know, that wasn't even portrayed in that commercial, there's no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all, which I'm confused by," the hip-hopster told the magazine. "But this older black dude, Dr. Boyce Watkins, I guess he found it racist because I was portraying stereotypes, which is ridiculous because, one, all of those dudes [in the line-up] are my friends."
Tyler pointed out that his buddies were all "in their own clothes" and no one other than Dr. Watkins who saw the commercial felt it was racist--instead, most people viewed it simply "a goat talking" or just a really dumb concept.
Not only that, but Tyler called the racism allegations "crazy" considering he directed the clip and pointed out that the first commercial in the campaign featured an African-American husband and his Asian wife and the second had a black police officer listening to "hardcore rock music"--not exactly a stereotypically African-American thing to do.
"It's just a goat," the MC argued. "I just think a goat is funny. It's no deeper meaning."
As for Dr. Watkins, he did back off from his harsh criticism somewhat, tweeting, "I do not believe that Tyler was deliberately pursuing stereotypes, but that was the result. Most intelligent black people were not happy."
Tyler attributed their differing viewpoints to a generation gap, but that reasoning didn't fly with the professor, who continued to pan the ad in both a YouTube video and on his Twitter page.
"I was also a poor kid in the hood but I refused to make my money by helping to create a minstrel show. Tyler can talk to me if necessary," he wrote, later adding, "If you have a voice that reaches millions, u have an obligation to use that voice responsibly. Accidental racism is not a valid excuse."
For Tyler's full interview, click here.