Burger King pulls Mary J. Blige ad, faces outcry over 'racist' overtones

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After catching a lot of heat for what many perceive to be its racist overtones, a Burger King commercial starring Mary J. Blige has been taken off the air.

The ad, which debuted this week and reportedly earned Blige a cool $2 million, features the R&B star soulfully singing the virtues of the fast-food chain’s new chicken wrap. (Jay Leno, David Beckham, and Selma Hayek appear in similar ads as part of a larger attempt to rebrand the fast-food giant).

In the clip — see it here — MJB, clad in a black leather jacket and shades, stands in a disco-lit BK franchise and croons, “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty… flour… tortilla.”

While the company released a statement saying “The Mary J. Blige advertisement has been pulled due to a licensing issue. BURGER KING® expects to have the Blige ads back on air soon,” some see it as a confirmation of the ad’s negative stereotypes.

The blog Madame Noir criticized Blige’s performance as “buffoonish,” and ad writer Thembisa S. Mshaka says the issue stems from “the tone-deaf representation of black women in advertising” that perpetuates “the stank, sassy, abrasive but entertaining ‘soul sista’ ” stereotype.

Mshaka goes on to compare Blige’s Burger King ad with those of her peers:

“Of all the endorsers, Mary is the only one who is rude, terse, and invasive. She interrupts the store manager with a sound-check type mic squeal — from ATOP a restaurant table. LenoSalma and Beckham have sweet, fun dispositions — and are ALL at the counter, like normal people. Mary appears out of nowhere, mad for no reason, over the contents of a chicken wrap, which she proceeds to outline in a song where she’s not so much singing as belting.”

Blige could not be reached for comment.

Readers, do you see the controversy here, or is it much ado about crispy, tortilla-wrapped nothing?

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