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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Tyler the Creator's, Mountain Dew Commercial with Felicia the Goat provides a portrayal of racial stereotypes and makes light of violence against women. The popular rapper at the time directed the commercial with full creative control. Unlike many other advertisements, there is a face behind this one; creating a blurred line between the corporation Mountain Dew and Tyler the Creator. The director's truth can be the other side of the same coin of the controversial components of the commercial. The online ad was released in 2013 in an attempt to sell the Mountain Dew soft drink. The fluorescent green drink was being sold to an audience of young men. The marketing to young men comes with the humor presented with an aggressive, and video game-like atmosphere of the ad. The humor was at the expense of women and black men. Tyler the Creator, though on the surface attempts to use outlandish humor with a ridiculous and aggressive talking goat named Felicia to sell Mountain Dew soft drink. Underneath the surface, the ad promotes violence and rape against women by not only men but black men with the attack on the waitress in the beginning because she refused to give him what “he wants”. Rape culture is further extended with the silence of the woman with the goat's threats while on the suspect line. Racial discrimination is the element that goes hand and hand with this presumption with the goat representing a black man the whole time. The goat is stopped by the police for a DUI and most police stops are against ethnic relations. The ad is pitting black men as dangers to society whether against women or on the road. The suspects were all black men facing a white battered woman and a white superior which was claiming to pick any one of them to the woman and “it'd be okay”. Racial stereotypes and rape culture are reinforced with this misguided commercial for Mountain Dew.

The commercial starts in a restaurant with a goat wearing a suit eating at a table. The goat is then approached by a white waitress with the Mountain Dew soft drink. The goat starts aggressively rejecting the drink while the waitress stays polite. Felicia the goat starts yelling “I don't want it” and starts attacking the waitress. The waitress responds in disgust and proceeds to call him a “nasty goat”. Despite the harassment, the waitress still opens the drink for the goat due to orders to give it to him. The drink causes the goat to attack the waitress in a more aggressive manner followed by the words “give me more I want it” and responded by the waitress with repeated screaming “NOs”. The commercial then shifts to the goat driving away fast in an old, run down, and trashy car. He soon gets pulled over by a police officer. Apparently, the goat was driving drunk off Mountain Dew due to his blurry vision while being approached by the cop. The police officer approaches the car and asks for license and registration and gets a quick and defensive response by the goat. Felicia says in a panicked tone “I don't have anything, I have rights”. Later the police officer comes to discover a bevy of Mountain Dew drinks in the trunk and it transitions in the goat running away and resisting arrest. The last scene of the ad has 5 suspects lined up with one being the goat. The other 4 are black and wearing predominately white clothing such as tees. Three of them are sporting a durag with multiple different colors like black, military and fluorescent green. The white waitress from before is in a neck brace and crutches. She is accompanied by a taller white superior wearing a suit with an inner fluorescent green vest. The white superior is holding a Mountain Dew bottle. The goat proudly says it was him and she “should have given him some more”. The goat proceeds to call himself nasty. The woman cannot do it and the goat says “you better not snitch on a playa”. The white superior make a random assumption and says the suspect is wearing a durag when they all are. The camera focuses on the green durag wearing black male though. The woman is drenched in fear with constant threats by the goat for her “to keep her mouth shut” and when he gets out of there that he will “DEW her up”. The woman, in the end, limps away screaming she can't do it while the white superior drinks the Mountain Dew with the line “she just gotta do it”.

Uncanny representations of dominance are spread throughout the commercial and made out to be humorous. According to Jib Fowles, people have an innate need to control others (121). The appeal to the audience's need for dominance is perpetrated with the star of the commercial, Felicia the Goat. Young men are the target audience of this ad and Mountain Dew is poking at our fundamental need to crave power (Jib Fowles 121). Felicia the Goat at the beginning of the commercial imposes his will on the waitress offering him the product: Mountain Dew soft drink. He starts touching the waitress against her will. The goat then says “give it to me” referring to the Mountain Dew and the waitress despite being abused opens the drink anyways and hands it over. After drinking the Dew, the goat goes in a rage and attacks the waitress demanding more Mountain Dew. Later in the commercial, the goat is seen threatening the waitress seen to be on crutches and in a neck brace. He verbally intimidates her in not “snitching”. The goat proceeds to say “shut your mouth”, “you should have given me some more”, “snitches get stitches”, and “Imma get out of here and DEW you up”. These series of events bluntly shows a dominance of men over women. The goat is supposed to represent a male. He talks like a male and is dressed in a tuxedo which mostly only men wear. The goat/man demands the waitress to do what he wants and a little restraint by her caused him to physically attack her. She then does his bidding by open the soft drink and still gets attacked after. Later when caught, the goat/man instills fear in the waitress while in the suspect room. The waitress is surrounded by 10 men whether on the suspect line or the authorities. A glooming dominance over her followed by verbal threats by Felicia the Goat to keep her mouth shut before he DEWS her up and she listened and ran away without identifying him. The even deeper meaning includes the goat to not only represent a male but, a black male. The battered waitress also appears to be white. This sprinkles the race relation of white women should be scared of the all black suspect line and the goat. This commercial had to not only put Mountain Dew in their target audience of younger men but also put a sense of power and dominance over women with the respective relation to race.

    Faint instances of sexual mist loom around this commercial. Jib Fowles' number 1 emotional appeal showed its face in subtle ways (116). Felicia the Goat jumps on top of the waitress demanding her to “GIVE IT TO HIM, GIVE ME MORE”. Later in the last scenes with the goat in the suspect line, he screams at the waitress suppose to identify him “IMMA GET OUTTA HERE AND DEW YOU UP”. Jim Fowles' talks about how little sex is in advertising and how its the most important need on his list of Fifteen Appeals (116). Not only sex is apparent in this commercial but, forceful sex. Forceful sexual imagery is painted with words. When Felicia says give it to him what is he exactly referring to; the Mountain Dew or sexual intercourse. There aren't many variations left to the imagination for the saying “DEW you up”. Dewing, it can be directly correlated to the act of sex. The commercial is trying to tap into younger men heavy values for sex. It's easier to sell an idea rather than a soft drink. Younger men need for sex id more than their need Mountain Dew even if they have to DEW it without the woman's consent.

Mountain Dew attempts to sell its soft drink to a rowdy audience of young men. They do this by using their need for aggression. It's a way for people to feel safe and shield from the outside pressures(Jib Fowles 120). Felicia the Goat shows humanly bottled up feelings of aggression. The waitress offers him a Mountain Dew and the goat rather starts attacking. Physically attacking her demanding her to give him the drink. He starts chasing her out the restaurant looking to hurt her. In the last scene, the waitress is seen in crutches and neck brace. The beat up woman must identify the goat in the suspect line. Instead, the goat intimidates her to stay quiet with aggressive threats. These threats stem from “keep your mouth shut” and “imma get out of here and DEW you up”. Aggression towards women is the major victim in this ad. This is common sense the target audience is younger men. Felicia the Goat constantly harasses the waitress when he first physical assaults her to when he verbally puts her in a state of fear to tell on him. Both needs for aggression are full display here: emotional aggression and instrumental aggression. Tyler the Creator in an attempt to be funny and just have a crazy goat attacking people; he had only shown aggression towards women when he is primarily selling to a younger male demographic. This demographic is being sold on, you can be aggressive towards women as long as it's funny and bizarre.

    Tyler the Creator directed this commercial with no sense of historical context. No sense of black men being the most incarcerated people in this country. Bruce Drake from Pew Research Center reports, as of 2013, 4,347 black inmates out of 100,000 U.S. residents. Not to mention the incarceration gap as wide as black men being 6 times more likely to end up in prison than their white counterparts. African Americans have been unfairly targeted especially low-income African American men with the War on Drugs declared by Ronald Reagan. Later this was isolated by Bill Clinton's prison reform or Crime Bill in the 90s that still have lasting impacts today. Robert Farley stresses the 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine was greatly supported by past presidents of this nation(Bill Clinton and the 1994 Crime Bill). This promoted racial injustice in sentencing with low income African American primarily more likely to use crack. Clinton's Crime Bill left the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world predominantly filled with African Americans. Hillary Clinton supported her husband's racial injustice with black young men with this quote “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.' No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel”; racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals(Michelle Alexander, Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote). Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time and more importantly the biggest upcoming presidential candidate for the next election. The Mountain Dew commercial had 4 black men and Felicia the Goat lined up as suspects and this can be used as the demographics of cellmates in prison. The white superior cop alongside with the battered waitress said to the woman to “pick any one of them”. All the black men were wearing chains, durags, white tees and had mean faces on. This is what the ad is suggesting what a criminal looks like and you can blindly pick any one of them and it would be okay. The white superior cop proceeds to say its the one with the durag. In the commercial, it zooms in on the black man with a green durag. Green is important in this context because the only other green in this scene is the white superior cop's inner suit. It shows the imbalance of power within the black and white community. Systemic racial stereotypes are reinforced and white supremacy is put on display with this Mountain Dew commercial.

Tyler the Creator has defended the commercial by claiming it doesn't have hidden meanings or suggestions. He claims he was just having fun with full creative control. The MC says “I just think a goat is funny. It's no deeper meaning” and “There's no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all”(Eric R Danton, Tyler, the Creator Responds to Criticism of Mountain Dew Ad). The suspects in the last scene of the commercial were all his friends he wanted to get in the ad. From his perspective, 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(Eric R Danton, Tyler, the Creator Responds to Criticism of Mountain Dew Ad). The outrage by the black community can mess up opportunities for other black males in the future. This is the other side of the same coin discussed in the beginning.

The argument, Tyler the Creator was just in the business of making a humorous commercial with no sense of underlying messages of sexual violence against might be true. The commercial lacks responsible despite the intentions. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That's more than 600 women every day. A significant number of crimes are never even reported for reasons that include the victim's feeling that nothing can/will be done and the personal nature of the incident(National Organization for Women). Felicia the Goat who represents a black man in the commercial, starts out the commercial attacking the helpless waitress demanding “to give him more”. Later on, in the ending scenes in the suspect line, the goat threatens the battered woman not to “snitch on a playa”, to “keep her mouth shut”, “you shoulda gave me some more….I'm nasty” , and when he gets out he will “DEW her up”. The superior cop next to her ends the commercial by drinking the product and saying “she should have just done it”. These couple of scenes suggest attacking a woman and making sexual comments is a joke. That threatening women into fear and intimidating them into not speaking up is funny. The goat insinuating more sexual violence and rape against the already battered woman is something to laugh at.

Mountain Dew has disguised corporate racism with Tyler the Creator. Their decision to lean on well-known racial stereotypes is beyond disgusting.  This doesn't even include the fact that the company has put black men on par with animals. The holocaust of mass incarceration and the glorification of viοlent rape culture has taken a tremendous toll on the black community and women.

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