Monday, September 24, 2012

Race and Social Conflict in That Jingos Commercial

Have you seen that commercial for a snack food called Jingos? Not only is it an effective advertisement, it's also a fascinating examination of racial and social mores in contemporary America. The scene is a convenience store. Slacker white dude is behind the counter munching on the product Jingos. An African-American male enters and asks for directions. The white guy screams back at the customer and offers him some Jingos. Evidently Jingos are so flavorful, they make you shout. The African-American guy raises his volume in reaction to the delicousness of the product.

Then it gets interesting. The lost gentleman's young daughter enters and asks her father if he found the right directions. Dad answers enthusiastically, "WE'RE LOST!" His stunned offspring partakes of the miraculous snack and speaks in capital letters as well. The clerk introduces himself to the daughter, the girl flirtatiously says her name to the clerk and the father happily adds "NOT GONNA HAPPEN!" It was pretty funny and the actors were all very good at expressing the mindless, loud joy Jingos is supposed to create. But the interaction raises several issues. Is the father objecting to his daugther's being involved in an interracial romance, or is he just being a typical dad who is concerned because she's so young or that he doesn't want her dating someone who can only pull down a minimum-wage job?

There's also the added socio-economic significance of the snack's name--Jingos as in jingoism, the kind of super-patriotism which proclaimed white, upper-crust America as the best country in the whole freaking world and don't you dare say a word against it.

I'm actually treating this in a satiric way, but I did enjoy that fact the commercial introduced the idea of interracial dating and then treated it as no big thing. I can't imagine such casting ten years ago. Will the Million Moms call for a Jingos boycott?

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