Bringing Sassy Black Back

Have you noticed that commercials these days are featuring more than their share of sassy-talking black women? It’s like there’s a Willona School of Acting that’s churning out the neck-swiveling, hmmmm-mmmm-talking, frying, cleaning, broad-hipped, asexual black woman to save the day. Pair her with an idiot husband, some silent children or a clueless salesperson and you’ve got a commercial.

There’s the Pine Sol lady. She’s been at it a long time and at least she has natural hair and is not a caricature. But that line, “That’s the power of Pine Sol, baby.” Ugh. And now, I’m pretty sure I spotted her in another brand’s commercial, this time joined by a gum-smacking friend.

Then we’ve got the Popeye’s fried chicken lady – Annie the Chicken Queen. She, by far, irks me the most. That terribly done fake accent. The shilling of fried food –chicken no less. The sweet tea and Leroy, the husband she yells at when convenient. There’s even a parody of Ms. Annie.

Swiffer got in on the act with a sassy mama saying, “Imma find out” and sashaying out of the room after the line “Are you a cool mom?” Momtrocious.

Then, there’s the deluge of Wal-Mart commercials with sistas out there saving money at America’s most tasteless store.

I realize I’m seeing targeted ads based on what I’m watching (Damn you Housewives of Atlanta!). Kind of like the Saturday nights I decide to stay in and all the ads have those abused pets that make me cry and then I salivate over the pizza and ice cream commercials until the Weight Watchers commercials and guilt show up.

When it comes to commercials, there are few alternatives, I realize. I acknowledge that it’s a good thing to have diversity on television. Yet, in general, all women are stereotyped in commercials (and all men are characterized as clueless –you all should be mad, too!).

On that front, Cascade entertains us with an ad with a woman at another sister’s house about to get into an argument about filthy dishes. The Cascade Kitchen Counselor shows up just in time. Seriously? Cascade is trying to perpetuate that women judge our worthiness over our housecleaning skills? Young women know that our value isn’t placed on sparkling windows or dishes. Especially when that task can be so easily outsourced. Instead, we judge each other’s shoes, child-rearing skills, husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends, vacations and careers. What’s next, they’ll suggest that women want vacuums for Christmas?

Hmmmm mmmmm.


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