- Politics and Social Issues
Is the Volkswagen Super Bowl Commercial about Jamaicans Stereotypical or Racist?
The Jamaican culture is very dynamic and is not necessarily consistent with any Hollywood film portrayal. The spoken dialect of the Jamaican culture is different based on your specific location on the island and also the time period. For example, the way how someone speaks in the city of Kingston is very different from how their counterparts speak in Montego Bay. If a Jamaican were to leave the country for five years, when they return, it would be obvious that their dialect is from an earlier time period. This is because the Jamaican dialect is an evolutionary method of expression.
Its Okay, Jamaicans Don't Mind
I was doing some research about the development of the super bowl Volkswagen commercial that references the Jamaican dialect otherwise known as patois. To my surprise, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Volkswagen, Timothy Mahoney bragged about the fact they had interviewed 100 Jamaicans and also had the blessings of the minister of tourism. That is 101 out of three million people. I wonder how much of the US $10,000,000 went into that market research.
I would have to admit that this is a complacent approach from the marketing and public relations team. The reason that they took this approach is because of their pre-conceived notion that Jamaicans are complacent and would not react in a negative way to the commercials. I would have to admit that most Jamaicans do not even care about this super bowl commercial. Racism does not even come to mind. However, a Jamaican stereotype does come to mind.
Professional Work Environment
Communication within the work environment in Jamaica is not like that portrayed in the commercial. You would be fired on spot for showing up late to work even if you drive a Volkswagen. The work environment here mostly constitutes Standard English. Within the tourism sector, the managers encourage their workers to speak to the tourist in a manner similar to that portrayed in the super bowl commercial. On the other hand, the managers demand professional communication from their workers. If the manager is a friend of the worker then probable communication in patios is okay.
“Those in the tourism industry love this Commercial”
While I was typing this review, my mother called me and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was writing an article. She said “Is it a positive vibe?” I said “Yeah mon”. This is a standard communication between two Jamaicans. This also slightly changed the tone of my written expression of the super bowl Volkswagen commercial about the Jamaican stereotypes.
The Volkswagen beetle has always been marketed to the counter culture. This would include the cool people, artistic souls, revolutionaries, hippies, peace embracers. Who better to portray this group than Jamaicans? The company is trying to make the beetle look cool. They are also trying to give an impression of positivity towards their potential customers. There is nothing wrong with that. This is how most Jamaicans perceive the advertisement.
What Some Jamaicans Say about the Super Bowl Volkswagen Commercial.
- The common consensus is that the commercial is a sham and it is not authentic but still funny. Some Islanders thought more research should have been done in order to make the commercial even funnier and is a clear case of corporate exploitation.
- Some Jamaicans would say that it is too commercialized and plays on the Jamaican stereotype. They are tired of being portrayed in that manner.
- Some say it makes them look lazy within a professional environment and resent such a gesture.
- Others say that they are being taken advantage of because of their reputation of not fighting back. They say that corporations would not do a similar commercial portraying people in the Eastern countries behaving silly.
- Majority of Jamaicans think the Volkswagen super bowl 2013 commercial is very funny and have NO PROBLEM with it.
Jamaican Dialect (Patois) Mistakes
The reason why the commercial was not authentic was because of the numerous mistakes made within the dialect. Most Jamaicans do not understand what Winston was saying some of the time. I had to have an American friend explain the part about the gopher state, because I thought he said Gopher sticks and land of a thousand licks. My friend explained that Minnesota is the gopher state with a thousand lakes. We had a laugh about it. You see, lake and state sounds the same in Patois as it would with standard English. As a matter of fact the "a" is pronounced much stronger in Patois.
Another point, is when Winston said "sticky bun come soon". That is wrong. It should have been "Sugar bun soon come". If they had done their research, they would have known that Jamaicans would never say "sticky bun" or "come soon".
The accent was drawn out or slurred. The accent is very hard to copy. It sounded more like a general Caribbean accent.
Otherwise than that, It was funny. #GetHappy
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