I Don’t Know That This Ad Is Cultural Appropriation As Much As It’s Just Wack
If you felt like too much time had passed without at least an accusation of alleged cultural appropriation, Tory Burch is here to fill that gap for you. The brand just released a new campaign ad for its Summer 2017 collection and the visuals, as expected, are as white as can be, contrasted with the very Black soundtrack of Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall’s “Juju on That Beat.” See for yourself.
According to Teen Vogue:
“The issue for many of Burch’s fans comes with the fact that the brand decided to use a song by two black artists and not feature any models of color in the clip. The other issue? The video also features a monkey in the passenger seat of the car, and the word has been used as a derogatory insult toward black people throughout history. After the video was released, many people took to Twitter to express their concern with the content.”
As these things usually go, Burch herself and Giovanna Battaglia, who directed the ad, are playing dumb, with the designer saying, “I personally feel badly if this hurt anyone, and I’m truly sorry.” And the director explaining her musical choice to Elle Malaysia, saying:
“I wanted the video to be playful and as chic as possible and to put you in a very good mood. Juju on That Beat is a happy song; I like the fact that it is a very easy song, too. The girls learned the moves very quickly and they had fun. The best part was watching them rehearsing and doing the song because they enjoyed themselves for real, which made this whole process very fun.”
The video has reportedly been removed from all Tory Burch channels since the controversy arose yesterday, but I’d argue they should’ve never put it out in the first place, not necessarily because it’s cultural appropriation but simply because it’s wack. I went into watching the ad expecting to be upset, which I was. More so at the fact that someone is out here getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to create this display of stiff, non-rhythmic whiteness when there’s a teenage Youtuber at home somewhere who could’ve come up with something 10 times better on one-tenth of the budget. But then on closer listen I caught the “Skinny jeans on and you know my hair nappy” line and thought to myself, yeah, y’all tried it — “Delete all that sh-t!” I’m almost certain Black women aren’t Burch’s target demo, hence the three white models– and I’m not mad at that because I’m personally not checking for the brand– but if you’re going to use that n-word and music by Black boys, you, at least, have to have someone with mildly coarse (non-Jewish) hair in the ad. Otherwise what are we doing? Oh, I guess that’s where the appropriation comes in.
What’s your take on this Tory Burch ad? Is it cultural appropriation or just par for the course mainstream wackness?