This ad was pulled for raising racist hackles, but I don’t get it. It’s not a great Indian imitation or anything, but I don’t see anything that offensive. I’m Sri Lankan, but still. The character is a Bollywood producer who likes Kim Kardashian and Snooki, which I wouldn’t call entirely rare. India is number two in Google searches for ‘sex’, btw. Pakistan is number one. It’s a caricature, but a human one and I think not especially racist.
Blackface is guaranteed racist in America, as it began at a racist time. Brownface is more ambivalent. I mean, Gandhi was played by Ben Kingsley. Mike Myers devoted a whole (execrable) movie to prancing around in brownface (The Love Guru). I am honestly more offended by the constant use of white people to play Indians or Arabs more than anything else. Like Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Of Persia? Really? I also find the consistent transmogrification of black singers (starting from Lil Kim) into blondes horrifying (ie, Rihanna). But Ashton Kutcher doing an Indian imitation? I don’t find it racist at all and don’t get the fuss.
Since the video (and ad for Pop Chips) has gone effectively viral now, perhaps that was the point. Or at least, not a bad thing. I suppose I know what Pop Chips are now, and apparently they’re kosher, so presumably halal. I’m just not offended. Honestly, I’m more offended by home grown Indian ads for vagina whitening cream than anything else.