Tyler, the Creator has dismissed the notion that a commercial he developed for Mountain Dew was racist, saying, “There’s no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all” in an interview with Billboard.
The clip showed a white woman on crutches eyeing a police lineup comprising black men and a goat, who’s the real culprit. The goat intimidates the flustered woman with statements like, “You better not snitch on a player” and “Keep your mouth shut,” and she eventually runs away and yells, “I can’t do this!” It’s an apparent reference to Mountain Dew’s “Dew It” slogan.
Mountain Dew’s parent PepsiCo pulled the 60-second spot earlier this week over criticism that the ad played to racial stereotypes and downplayed violence against women. A professor at Syracuse University, Boyce Watkins, called the ad “arguably the most racist commercial in history.”
Tyler said the men in the police lineup were all black because he wanted to use his friends, and that Watkins projected his own sensitivities onto the ad. “Everyone either said, ‘Wow, this is ridiculous, it’s a goat talking,’ or they said, ‘Wow, this is the dumbest, why would they even make this?'” said Tyler, who released his latest album, Wolf, last month. The rapper and Odd Future leader said he found it difficult to understand how his involvement with the commercial could be construed as a negative thing.
“It’s a young black man who got out of the ‘hood and made something of himself, who’s now working with big, white-owned corporations,” Tyler said. “Not even in front of the camera acting silly, but directing it. I’m trying to be one of the directors. But instead of looking at the positivity from that, he’s trying to boycott Mountain Dew. Now that he’s doing that, not only is it messing up opportunities for me, but also maybe opportunities for another young black male who maybe looks up to me and wants to do that in the future. It’s ludicrous.”
Watkins explained his reaction, and responded to Tyler’s comments, in a 22-minute video he posted to YouTube. Ultimately, though, Tyler said he thought the whole issue had become overblown.
“It’s just a goat,” he said. “I just think a goat is funny. It’s no deeper meaning. They said, ‘Tyler, you can come up with any commercial that you want.’ I said, ‘You wanna know what’s funny to me and my friends? An animal talking.’ Why? Cause animals don’t talk in real life, so let’s make an animal talk. What’s a funny animal? A fucking goat.”