Monday, October 20, 2008
On Axe "Dark Temptation"
Okay. Maybe I'm too sensitive. Maybe I "can't take a joke." Or maybe this sh- is f-ed up.
So Axe body spray (a heinous concoction of carcinogens in a spray can, aimed at adolescent boys) just came up with a new "scent" that they call "Dark Temptation." The idea behind it is that the "scent" is reminiscent of chocolate, and since women "can't resist chocolate," they will also not be able to resist he who uses the spray.
Obviously, there's a lot wrong in that simple idea - but that's all about stupidity, and I don't really need to go there. No, I bring it up because I randomly saw an ad for the spray the other day, and it kind of bothered the Hell out of me.
The ad starts with a white guy spraying himself with Axe, and he suddenly turns into a dark-brown-colored "chocolate" man. The rest of the commercial is him going around town seducing white girls (I specify white here because there are no other races evident in this particular commercial) by his simple "chocolate" presence: women are licking him, biting him, chasing him, etc. And then it ends with the statement, "Axe Dark Temptation, as irresistible as chocolate."
And - again - there's a lot wrong with that whole concept on a sexist tip, as well - but that's the whole Axe commercial angle, and I'm sure somebody has addressed that better than me. What stood out to me was the overt racial implications of the NAME of the spray, "Dark Temptation," and the entire commercial. Because the white guy pretty much becomes a black guy when he sprays himself. Sure, he's "chocolate" and there are little jokes made in terms of that fact, but it's hard to miss the change in color (and tone) when he sprays himself and becomes "irresistible."
And I point out that all the women in the ad are white here because I've seen other Axe commercials, and - if I remember correctly - not all of the women in other ads are white. So this one stands out. And so I can't help but notice that it plays pretty perfectly on the whole racial stereotype and perceived dynamic between white women and black men. And, to finish it off, it's called "Dark Temptation." I mean - damn. It's not "Chocolate Temptation." It's "Dark Temptation." If you read that as a title of a romance novel (which it actually is), wouldn't you have some assumptions on what that "novel" was about (turns out the real one isn't, though)?
So then I go to check out the website to find the commercial to link to this post, and I see that they have an "Axe Dark Temptation" video game to play. So I boot it up, and guess what? The whole game is to be walking down the street as your chocolate-y "dark" self, trying to escape white women who can't help but try and get a (literal) piece of you.
I don't know. Sometimes I think I'm just getting too damn sensitive about everything, but this one really popped out at me. And I know that the people it's geared for (young white kids) aren't going to really be able to make that conscious connection, but it seems pretty obvious to me.*
But why take my word for it? See for yourself and let me know if I'm just too ready for a fight these days.
Axe Dark Temptation Commercial
* Not to mention the "chocolate man" looks pretty much like a white guy in classic "blackface" - what with his buggy white eyes and big, white teeth (mirroring the painted-on white smiles of minstrel shows of yore).
** And the "d--k in the box" reference with his "chocolate" fingers . . .