Mary J. Blige blasted for hawking chicken in Burger King ad
Updated 9:20 a.m. ET: Mary J. Blige has since commented on the commercial controversy, telling TMZ, “I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that's not what was happening in that clip." She added, "I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out."
Burger King has apologized to Blige and her fans for releasing the early cut.
A Burger King commercial featuring Mary J. Blige singing about chicken was pulled from company's YouTube channel Tuesday, though the company denied the action was due to heavy criticism.
The company said the ad was pulled due to “licensing issues,” but did not specify what those issues were. The company said it hoped to have the Blige ads back soon, but wouldn't say if they would be edited, the Associated Press reported.
The commercial features Blige standing on top of a table at the fast-food chain, microphone in hand, singing about the franchise’s crispy chicken wrap. (As of press time, you could still watch the ad at Gawker.)
David Beckham, Jay Leno, Salma Hayek and others also appear in new Burger King ads selling what the company calls a healthier menu. The Blige ad was criticized for invoking the stereotype involving African-Americans and chicken as well as the fact that Blige's ode to chicken is sung to the tune of her song "Don't Mind," which may indeed be the cause of the "licensing issues" mentioned by the company.
“You still have so much more to contribute to the arts and entertainment game that there was no reason for you to stoop to stereotypes," Renay Alize wrote to Blige in a post at Madame Noire. "And I know what you’re thinking, everybody across the world loves chicken. It’s true, most people get down with the poultry; but as a black woman, singing passionately about chicken is not the move!”
Rich Juzwiak at Gawker wrote that mocking of the ad was "approaching meme levels," but pointed out that actress Octavia Spencer wasn't criticized for rhapsodizing about cooking chicken in the hit movie "The Help." Juzwiak also wrote, "if the issue is with Blige selling out, well, that's been happening for years," pointing out that the singer has sold fragrances on the QVC shopping channel in the past.
Marketing consultant Steve Stoute, who has worked closely with Blige, tweeted, “The issue is the burger king commercial is that these agencies visit culture and then do work that is so inauthentic it's embarrassing."
But some find merit in the controversy.
“The Burger King spot — blasphemous as many thought it was — did something her recent career moves haven’t been able to do: They got people talking about Mary J. Blige again,” journalist Adam Graham wrote in The Detroit News. “And if fans debate that she’s above doing fast food ads, maybe it leads to a renewed appreciation of her talents and what she should stand for, which in the end isn’t all that bad.”
Representatives of Blige have yet to comment on the matter.
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