by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com
We can’t imagine NBC deliberately undermining one of the greatest golden girls in the history of sport. After all, with the sagging ratings that the network has had to endure during these Olympic games, Gabby Douglas has been their hero.
But a recent ad that appeared right after Gabby’s win had some eyebrows crinkled and heads turning. The ad, which ran right after Bob Costas spoke fondly of Gabby’s accomplishment, consisted of a monkey with an Olympic dream, preparing to perform a gymnastics routine.
Some have called the ad racist, but others are stating that it’s probably just a coincidence. But then again, NBC was also the network that fueled charges of racism by serving fried chicken in honor of Black History Month.
Assuming that the YouTube video one of our readers sent me is not some kind of sick stunt (several of my Facebook friends recall seeing the ad live), we’re going to assume that if they had it all to do over again, NBC wouldn’t air an ad about a monkey doing gymnastics right after such an historic event. I even took the liberty this week of dumping Gabby’s nickname, “The Flying Squirrel,” because it reminded me too much of the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. I instead argue that we should call her “The Flying Princess” instead – we have enough black people being compared to animals already.
Perhaps since NBC owns TheGrio.com, they can invite some of their staff members to a meeting to explain Offensive Racism 101. The first rule would be to never portray a monkey engaged in the same activity that a black person just performed right before. The joke isn’t funny and it’s flabbergasting that a network that controls a major black online news organization would make such a blatant and ridiculous error. Black people and monkeys just don’t mix….ever.
These kinds of major screw-ups on a global stage should be wake-up calls for companies like NBC to understand what true diversity really means. When you put out an ad about a monkey doing gymnastics right after presenting one of the greatest black female athletic performances in history, it’s clear that there could NOT have been an intelligent black person in the room when that particular decision was made.
Maybe NBC needs to go hire a few more black people. This should never have happened and they know it. Also, I grow tired of seeing networks insult black people and then refuse to apologize, only stating that it “wasn’t their intention” to be so offensive. Most people never intend to be ignorant.
The video is below: