Mary J. Blige, Burger King, and Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken-

I have to comment on this because this is too good. Have you guys heard about the big stink surrounding the Burger King commercial that features Mary J. Blige singing about chicken? If you haven’t, check it out here:  Burger King Commercial

I have to admit, when I first saw it I laughed. I don’t think this was meant to be taken seriously, and I think that Mary J. Blige participated in the spirit of the funny; I am just speculating on that. In any case, there was a huge backlash, and I have only had time to hear a few of the arguments. But one of them came from a comedian–I forget his name, he is a ‘B’ comedian (yes, I said it). His point was that we Americans have not reached a point where Black people can joke about fried chicken or watermelon–it’s just too much. I get this.

At the same time, I think that Black people are not alone, A LOT OF PEOPLE EAT FRIED CHICKEN AND WATERMELON!! So my question is, who created this story of fried chicken and Black folks? Of course this is a rhetorical question, But I would like to know why Black people have to find a dark corner in an undisclosed location to eat fried chicken, or enjoy a piece of delicious watermelon. Ugh!

Am I supposed to go back to being a vegetarian, or make sure I have filet mignon on hand to make sure I don’t get caught with fried chicken? Chicken, I think, is the least expensive meat out there. Actually, I prefer roast, baked, or rotisserie chicken over fried.

There are people who can’t even get a chicken! They would love to be able to dip it in buttermilk, flour and spices and fry that thing up!

What’s the deal people? I think this is somebody elses problem, not mine. What do you think?


18 thoughts on “Mary J. Blige, Burger King, and Fried Chicken

  1. It’s so silly that anyone took that commercial seriously. It’s a joke, both because it bad and a parody. It’s nothing to get so worked up over. I think that people need to stop looking for things to get offended by. There is a stereotype out there, but this commercial wasn’t the one to go and make a fuss over.

    Also, I’ll see your unnamed comedian and raise you a Dave Chappelle.

  2. The BK commercial was just…just awful. Not because it was racist, but because it was totally uncreative and BAD. I will admit though that I have “crispy chick-en!” stuck in my head. Ugh.

    “All these years I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious. Turns out I’m genetically predisposed to liking chicken!”

    I think you pose a good (albeit unanswerable) question, WHERE does this stereotype come from? And the watermelon! It’s juicy and sweet and delicious! What’s not to like!

    I recall seeing an exhibit at the Chicago History Museum about Harold Washington. One section was devoted to campaign paraphernalia, and there were several anti-Washington buttons that featured a slice of watermelon. The hateful message was clear, but I am curious as to how eating watermelon became a “black people thing”.


    • I actually know where the stereotype comes from (slavery–it was created by white people. That is why my question is rhetorical).
      The commercial reminds be of an SNL sketch that Andy Samburg (is that how you spell that dudes last name?), and Justin Timberlake– funny and really crusty. And I like crusty.

      • I’m not sure if anyone really knows where that particular stereotype came from. There are accounts of that stereotype being lampooned by black authors in the latter half of the 19th century. Ironically, many behaviors that white slaveowners attributed to their slaves, were actually the slaves satiracally imitating white behaviours they observed. And round and round it goes, where it started nobody knows. I’m gonna look into it. . .

      • It came out of the character of the minstrel–Black people love chicken and watermelon. A lot of people don’t know that Black men often played in minstrel shows to make money.

        And I am sure that Black authors lampooned the stereotype because it makes no sense.

      • I’m aware of the minstrel/vaudeville performance acts that slaves would perform prior to the civil war (and after) but I couldn’t find anything that pointed to that as the source of the stereotype. Did you find that somewhere? Not trying to challenge you, but I’ve been looking for awhile now, thought maybe you could help me find it.

      • Hi G.G.,

        I have created a post just for you. The title begins with “Part Deux…” If you have the time, there are many sources online, or on the ground at the library.

        Bonne Chance

  3. It’s not so much the commercial I find funny but how silly things like this can get some people so riled up. Jeez. The fact some people can’t take a joke is hilarious. I wish more commercials would come out to piss them off.

  4. I think at this point, the chicken and watermelon thing has gotten to the point that most people know it’s ridiculous. Every joke I’ve heard about it has been ironic, with the point of demonstrating how silly it is.

    I do find it a bit depressing though that this kind of thing can affect someone’s behavior. I would hate to have to give up chicken or watermelon just to prove to society that I don’t fit some stereotype.

  5. This is funny because I’m actually writing a piece on Burger King’s new marketing initiatives for my job. BK’s theory was that they were trying to appeal to women; note that they didn’t say black women, even though that was exactly what they were trying to do. Fine, have the black woman eating the fried chicken, and the white woman eating the salad, but I don’t think BK’s sales are going to improve much even if their marketing ploy does work, because who wants to eat that manufactured garbage anyway?

  6. I’m can see both sides of the coin on this particular uproar.
    For one, the commercial is just bad as a commericial–like it’s boring.
    Do I think the people in BK’s PR department sat around and decided “Hey, you know a great way to do this commercial would be the get MJB to sing about this chicken;
    cause black people love her and it will get them to buy even more fried chicken!”
    Uhhh, no.

    While there’s a laundry list of social media blunders out there, I don’t think corporations go out of their way to offend most audiences because everyone with some change in their pocket in a potential buyer. And at the end of the day. they just want you money.. I think they wanted a famous singer in a commercial about their and they chose Mary J. Blige, cause why not? She’s popular.

    I can also understand the fatigue black people might have with this particular stereotype threat because a lot of black people do like fried chicken (Chappelle is right, it’s delicious!) and don’t want to be wary of conforming to stererotypes when you just want to eat lunch.

    However, I caution saying that it’s “just a joke” and “people are too sensitive” because that can of rationale can lead to a slippery slope that justifies similiar things you might now agree with.
    For example, it seems like every other month since Obama had been in office, some Republican dimwit sends out and e-mail or posts a blog with a caricature of Obama referencing eating fried chicken and eating watermelon etc.
    And when they’re called out by other media outlets, their response is usually something like “OMG, you can’t take a joke?! Stop being the PC-police, I was just having fun!”

    Of course the commercial doesn’t go even close to that far, but some people can’t tell the difference, and don’t want to; it’s just another funny “black people and fried chicken” joke.
    Therefore, I’m not going to tell people they shouldn’t be upset about it, but there are bigger battles that black people can fight than this commercial.

    • I don’t know, I thought it was funny. It reminded me of an SNL short.

      I see what you are saying, and everyone thinks differently about it. At the same time, I think that we’ve passed that “slippery slope” stage a long time ago. I don’t care about jokes or tired stereotypes, I want some JUSTICE up in here! In other words, we can get caught up in stupid things like this, and not focus on what is really going on.

  7. First of all, I love watermelon. I could eat watermelon all effing day. Oh, and I have another Dave Chappelle clip.

    I’ll do it for free chicken!
    Did Mary J Blige do it for free?

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