Calls for an apology ring out after Ashton Kutcher portrays a Bollywood producer in snack-food commercial some see as racist
Ashton Kutcher's new ad for a potato chip company could find him eating crow soon.
The "Two and a Half Men" star's ad for Popchips has raised the hackles of some in the Twitterverse, who are criticizing the ad as racist because Kutcher wears "brownface" in it.
The commercial parodies dating-service ads, with Kutcher playing Raj, a 39-year-old "Bollywood producer" who's looking for love. But the ad itself isn't getting much love from Internet detractors, who are criticizing the brown makeup and stereotypical behavior he displays in the spot.
New York writer/entrepreneur Anil Dash called for an apology from Popchips, Kutcher and others associated with the ad.
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"I think the people behind this Popchips ad are not racist. I think they just made a racist ad, because they're so steeped in our culture's racism that they didn't even realize they were doing it," Dash wrote.
Brooklyn-based hip-hop group Das Racist was similarly unimpressed, and urged people to contact the company in protest.
"[T]hey got to pull this shit and apologize, that's it," the group tweeted. "[I]t's 2012, come on."
A YouTube user offered another bashing in the comments section, writing, "LOL @ Ashton thinking he could become relevant again by putting on racist brownface, acting like Indian men are all creepers (who [have] moustaches), and attempting caricatures of popular filmy dances. How mid-twentieth century! How cute! Very impressed."
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The ad is one in a series of Kutcher portraying a number of caricatures, including a bearded biker, a dreadlocked British hippie and a pony-tailed German fashionista.
Popchips claims that the ad campaign wasn't intended to offend.
"The new Popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone," the company said in a statement provided to TheWrap. "At Popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended."
A spokeswoman for Kutcher has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment — though it's a safe bet that the actor is probably blushing right now, under all that brownface makeup.