by Dr. Boyce Watkins
If you’ve never heard of Felicia the Goat, you’ll know about her soon. Felicia the Goat is the main character in a recent Mountain Dew commercial, created in part by Tyler the Creator. The video shows Felicia in a line-up of criminal suspects, all of whom may be charged with a crime
Of course, in the world of Mountain Dew, every single suspect is Black. Not just regular Black people, but the kinds of ratchety negroes you might find in the middle of any hip-hop minstrel show: Gold teeth, “mean mugging,” sun glasses wearing, white-t sportin, hard core n*ggaz ready to “get into some ol gangsta sh*t.” Apparently, this is the kind of ad you put out if you want to appeal to the Black male demographic.
On the other side of the one-way glass is an innocent, feeble, traumatized White woman, standing next to a detective telling her to “nail this little sucker.” The woman is shaking, wounded and crying in fear over whatever these scary Black men have done and might do to her in the future. Black men are frightening and violent, that’s well established in the first few seconds of the commercial. There is also another White officer, and a Black man standing in the back corner. One side of the glass is mostly criminal, 100% Black. The other side of the glass consists of the “good guys,” nearly all of whom are White.
Throughout the video, the woman is trying to decide whether to identify the suspect, and is being threatened by the goat who is telling her that you “betta not snitch on a playa.” The goat also starts out by saying, in a scruffy voice, “You shoulda gave me some more….I’m nasty.” So, I guess that means that the woman was s-xually assaulted by the goat, maybe Rick Ross style.
As the woman is shaking, crying and trying to decide what to do, the goat says, “Snitches get stitches fool.” After that, he says, “Keep ya mouth shut. When I get outta here, I’m gonna do you up (translation: Probably beat and s-xually assault you again).” Shaking in fear, the woman runs screaming out of the room, worried that testifying is going to get her killed by this demonic negro goat and his thugged-out sidekicks.
Mountain Dew has set a new low for corporate racism. 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 violent prison culture has taken a tremendous toll on the Black community. Corporations are making it cool for Black men to murder one another, while gun manufacturers ensure that the streets are flooded with the weapons necessary for us to complete our own genocide.
The family of Emmett Till is seeking to boycott the company due to Lil Wayne’s decision to not apologize for a song (Karate Chop) in which he compares Emmett Till’s face to a woman’s v@gina after he’s had s*x with her (Mountain Dew is sponsoring Lil Wayne’s tour). It appears that Mountain Dew is right on board with the degradation and disrespect for the entire African American community being pursued by the worst in the hip-hop community. This ad has to be one of the most irresponsible pieces of trash in the history of corporate advertising.
Even worse is that Mountain Dew probably thinks this ad is acceptable because they got the OK from a Black man. In their thorough corporate oversight, Mountain Dew may not have realized that Tyler the Creator is also the man who made a song called “Tron Cat,” with a verse stating that he would “r@pe a pregnant b*tch and tell my friends I had a threesome.” As a Business school professor myself, I am stunned that Mountain Dew would allow their brand to be connected to a man who celebrates the s-xual assaults of pregnant women.
Maybe the executives at Mountain Dew who gave the green light to this ad should speak to the family of Quinten Moss. Moss, a 24-year old father of three, was gunned down in cold blood in his home town of Louisville, Ky. The police barely investigated the murder and there are no suspects. Part of the reason that police can’t find evidence in these crimes is because there are people in the community who remind law-abiding citizens that “snitches get stitches” and bullet holes in the head. The “stop snitching” concept may make good entertainment for White America, but it leads to countless deaths and unsolved homicides among those who are most impacted by various forms of urban terrorism.
As Quinten’s three children grow up without a father, I’d love for the Mountain Dew executives to see how their lives have been irreparably altered by the “stop snitching” culture that the company seems to think is so funny. I would love for them to speak with the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year old honor student who was murdered in cold blood. After that, they can speak with the family of the three-year old boy that my daughter’s best friend used to babysit before a bullet pierced his brain and killed him. All of these crimes were the product of some misguided young men who’d spent their lives being bombarded by media images that train Black men to behave like animals: Tyler the Creator (who is paid to rap about s-xually assaulting pregnant women) is one of them.
Perhaps after seeing the real impact created through the glorification of violence and thuggery, Mountain Dew will then realize that the mass death and incarceration of young men and women is NOT supposed to a punch line. People are dying over this.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series called Commercialized Hip-Hop, the Gospel of Self-Destruction.