Thursday, October 24, 2013

DirecTV ad pokes fun with Appalachian stereotypes; would any other minority group be so treated?

UPDATE, Oct. 25: DirectTV has pulled the commercial and in a statement wrote: "It certainly was not our intent to offend anyone and we apologize if there were customers that did not like the ad or found it offensive. The commercial ended its broadcast run on Monday and will no longer be airing." (Read more)

Perhaps you've seen the commercial with the dirty, creepy "mountain people" who have a goat in their kitchen and a man tied to a chair. It seems like you might have stumbled into the latest sequel to the film "Wrong Turn," in which inbred hillbillies find new and creative ways to kill city folks who have wandered off the main road. It's actually a commercial for DirecTV, which somehow makes the connection that if you had the company's new voice-control system, you won't end up being murdered by crazies in the mountains because, well, crazy killers don't quite have the listening capacity that DirecTV does.

Patrick Baker
Patrick Baker, an associate professor of law at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., responds in an op-ed in The Courier-Journal. Baker writes for the Louisville newspaper: "Imagine the social and political backlash against DirecTV if they ran an ad that depicted and preyed upon African-American, Jewish or Native American stereotypes. The media would crucify them as a corporate entity. Mountain folk are the last acceptable bastion for those who would mock and degrade a people based on heritage and culture."

"The people who make their lives in these mountains are earnest, forward-thinking, hard-working individuals worthy of respect and admiration," Baker writes. "I live and work in Appalachia. My family hails from southeastern Kentucky, and I wear my families’ heritage like a badge of honor. By the second decade of the 21st Century, haven’t we learned to celebrate other cultures, viewpoints, ethnicities and diversity? . . . DirecTV’s ad clearly illustrates all that is still wrong in our society, and it should pull the ad and issue a formal apology. Too bad ,DirecTV, the mountain people didn’t do what you wanted: They boycotted your product and decided not to laugh." (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i was a reporter for the courier-journal in washington when the Appalachian Redevelopment Act was passed. '65 i think was the year. it had great intentions. but appalachia is still appalachia -- local politics is riddled with corruption in many counties, school systems are politics riddled, in the coal areas ignorance abounds about what is happening in energy. a wal mart is considered a huge economic boon to the area it locates in. i now live on the far western edge of appalachia, in north alabama. i think i know appalachia. for some problems there are no immediate solutions -- just long term and they are not being implemented.