Advertising And Modern Minstrely: What’s Funny About Race Roleplaying?

Christine Huang
  • 22 july 2009

Last week we came across this music video/ advertisement for Taco Bell (created by DraftFCB), a riff on Diddy’s 1990s anthem,It’s All About the Benjamins“. The commercial, entitled “It’s All About the Roosevelts”, seems to have drawn inspiration from the popular Lazy Sunday” skit featured on SNL four years ago, a self-parodizing rap video about the banal lives of Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg.

SNL’s characters rap self-seriously (but in actuality, self-deprecatingly) about the boring details of their daily lives, from visiting cupcake bakeries to finding directions on the Internet. The comedic effect is a result of a combined dissonance; it’s not funny because it’s white people rapping, it’s funny because it’s dorky white people rapping about their very un-thug lives.

Taco Bell’s ad is a half-baked attempt at the same humor, but lacking the cultural and self-awareness that makes the SNL skit so funny. “It’s All About the Roosevelts” sits somewhere between ironic tribute and derisive parody, employing a bevy of hip hop video cliches -ladies, cars, bling – to highlight Taco Bell’s new line of cheap eats. The video looks and feels like a typical Puff Daddy-era video, with one major ‘comedic’ tweak: everyone is white! Yep, that’s the punchline: white people acting, dancing, and rapping like rap stars -mocking this culture that so contrasts their own. What a hilariously clever twist.

Whether you perceive this ad as modern minstrelsy or harmless farce, it nevertheless raises some interesting questions: what is supposed to be funny about this video? White people posturing in (stereotypically) non-white scenarios? When is race roleplay and cultural appropriation OK? When is it acceptable, and when is it derogatory?

To push the debate even further, consider these even more blatantly racially charged ads for in Minneapolis (watch below). In this case, the raceplay is boldly farcical. Who is Chicago-Lake Liquors trying to appeal to here? Who are we supposed to be laughing at? Why?

Juxtaposing these ironic appropriations is Baskin Robbins’ playful homage to the once-viral booty bass hit “Ice Cream and Cake” (below). The song by Buckwheat Boyz (of Peanut Butter Jelly Time fame) became a YouTube sensation in 2005, inspiring countless user-uploaded videos showcasing various renditions of the “Ice Cream and Cake” dance. Baskin Robbins pairs the song with a cute stop motion animation featuring colorful cake toppers dancing atop ice cream treats. Rather than making a joke of it, Baskin Robbins has resurrected the dance hit, making it relevant to its audience and brand. Baskin Robbins chose sincerity over mockery – perhaps the less provocative approach of the two, but a far less divisive one as well.


Dubai And The Future Of Humanitarian Design

Design & Architecture
Technology october 21, 2016

Concept Camera Designed To Only Take Unique Photos

Camera Restricta is tool that prompts photographers to only capture one-of-a-kind images

Design & Architecture october 21, 2016

Fragrance Will Release The Smell Of Data If Your Private Information Is Being Leaked

The device is designed to create a physical cue for the potential dangers lurking online


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail october 21, 2016

LYNK & CO Is A New Auto Brand That Promises Mobile Connectivity On Wheels

Online access and mobility sharing are driving the company to disrupt the auto industry

Related Expert

Ryan Chin

Cities, Internet of Things, Data

Travel october 21, 2016

Become A Citizen Of The First Nation In Space

Asgardia is a new concept for a floating society above Earth

Entertainment october 21, 2016

Speaker Displays Song Lyrics As Music Is Played

The device is able to generate the graphics on a translucent screen and retrieve the words from a connected database

AI october 21, 2016

Travel Assistant Scans Your Emails To Make Planning Easier

This AI add-on will sync with your inbox and sends reminders to make sure you don't miss anything important


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 21, 2016

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

PSFK Labs october 21, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Millennials october 21, 2016

FOMO Survival Kit Helps Millennials Cope With Social Anxieties

The satirical product is meant to be a playful diversion for people who feel like they are missing out

Food october 21, 2016

New York Restaurant Uses Tomato Sushi As Its Newest Meat Alternative

fresh&co is using sous vide Roma tomatoes to create a vegan option that has the texture and taste of tuna

Advertising october 21, 2016

Red Bull Converts Sao Paulo Payphones Into Data-Driven Bus Schedules

The booths allow city residents to check local transit times through a simple toll-free phone call

Retail october 21, 2016

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers

Children october 21, 2016

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants october 21, 2016

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Technology october 21, 2016

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Technology october 21, 2016

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

No search results found.