Advertisers do that when they think they might get a negative reaction from viewers.
The commercial — Facebook’s first ever big TV campaign ad — is a lushly filmed existential inquest into the question of whether we are alone or together.
But it uses a lot of racial shorthand in order to represent exactly who “we” are. Unfortunately, that shorthand indicates that black people like to sit on junky furniture on the sidewalk, while white people lounge in richly furnished rooms and teach prestigious classes. Black people dance wildly, while white people do the Electric Slide. And so on.
Take a guess what Arab life is like in the Facebook universe.
We’re not saying that Facebook or W+K is racist. That would be ridiculous. We’re just saying that when you need to use visual cues to briefly signify the full diversity of the human race, you could make a different choice than showing a black neighborhood where chickens peck in the street.
We’ve put the full video at the end of this frame-by-frame, so you can make your own judgments.
The first person we meet in the ad is this elderly African American, reading a newspaper at what appears to be a bus stop. So far, so good:
But the elderly white man gets to sit in a lushly furnished house. Maybe we’re reading too much into this, but …
… the black kid plays on a junky old kitchen chair in the middle of the street. We know it’s not a wealthy neighborhood because of what’s in the background …
… chickens. There are chickens in the street:
There are also deck chairs in the street. Not on the beach, or on a wide grassy lawn, but the street:
Farther East, this Arab boy takes a break on his chair, which is also out in the street. Also, note that the town he’s living in is crumbling, just like all Arab towns, right?
Finally, Facebook’s ‘Great Nation’ is a European one:
Here’s the full ad so you can judge for yourself:
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