Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Mary J. Blige's Burger King commercial pulled from the Internet, accused of "buffoonery"

Illustration for article titled Mary J. Blige's Burger King commercial pulled from the Internet, accused of "buffoonery"

In an effort to combat its gradual slipping to third place in the fast-food hamburger industry, Burger King is rolling out some significant changes to its menu, beginning with not sitting on every single burger until it’s a flat, wrinkled mockery introducing some "fresh” options, like fried chicken and three kinds of cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered in ranch dressing. And to get the word out about their "exciting" new outlook, they’ve hired some famous people like Salma Hayek, Jay Leno, David Beckham, and Mary J. Blige to pretend to be really interested in eating at Burger King in exchange for a few million dollars—but don’t go looking for Mary J. Blige’s ad, because it’s already been pulled from the restaurant’s YouTube channel (though it lives on here).


After making its debut, the commercial—in which Blige stands on a Burger King table and belts out, “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing, wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla”—was met with a swift Internet backlash from sites like Madame Noire, which not only lamented that Blige had “compromised [her] art to sell chicken wraps for the man,” but went one step further by branding it “buffoonery” for supposedly playing into stereotypes by “having a black woman sing about chicken.” It is, indeed, Burger King’s most egregious example of buffoonery since Darius Rucker sang that ode to the Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich that no one got upset about, and the worst example of black artists compromising their art to sell chicken to The Man since Flavor Flav and Ludacris opened their very own fried chicken restaurants, which have somehow also escaped this kind of reprisal. Or, possibly, it's just a musician agreeing to take $2 million to sing briefly about a wrap that happens to have chicken in it, which is a food that a lot of people eat.

Not surprisingly, the criticism was not mentioned at all in Burger King’s official explanation, which attributes the ad’s removal to music licensing issues before saying the company hopes to have the commercial “back on the air soon.” Given the controversy that’s been manufactured around it, however, it’s also not surprising that the company didn’t have a more concrete ETA for its return and wouldn’t comment on whether the ad would remain the same. While we’re waiting to find out, we would like to offer our own shaming for the Jay Leno ad, which uses his buffoonish pronunciation of the word "smoothie" to play into the hurtful stereotype that Jay Leno is funny.