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"What The Eff?" Wednesday: We In Commercials Now, Y’all!

17 October 2007 10 Comments

I hate the word “Ebonics” just because of its cheesy root-word “ebony.” I feel the same way about kinte cloth, Kwanzaa, and the word “Nubian.” All of this justified disdain aside, I think the way that black people speak is a precious thing at times. When I meet other black folks they often tell me that I “talk white.” Yet when I was living in France everyone said “wow, you sound just like a black person from television,” so of course it’s all relative. But how and when did it become acceptable for us to show up on television and fail to conjugate verbs!?!?!? Take this Doritos commercial that I first saw this weekend:

Ok, first of all, I don’t really get the commerical at all because don’t know what hot wings and blue cheese have to do with country music (as tasty as that combo sounds). My snack fantasies aside, please pay close attention to around 0:20 where Missy says “I know what it need…It need some country.” The lack of an “s” on the word “need” was like a shank to my side. Not once but twice Missy failed to simply conjugate a verb! I know that she knows better, I know that the director knew better, and I know that whomever wrote the script knew better. So how did the final commercial go out this way when of course multiple takes were done? Clearly because they wanted it to!

Next we have my favorite systematic plot against the black community – KFC. When I caught this on televison I almost threw the remote control at this ridiculous dude. This particular commercial is wrong for so many reasons that I won’t even really go there, but please listen for verb conjugation:

This is pure coonery and not the kind I like. The fact that he looked like a minstrel on a string and that KFC is trying to kill us colored folk one boneless chicken strip at a time are not even my main problems. My problem is with “They Saucy!”. THEY Saucy? Shouldn’t that be “They ARE Saucy”? I know this is a cheerleading chant and all, but again, everyone involved with this commercial knows good and well how to conjugate the verb “to be,” and I’m sure some in various languages.

Yes, I AM getting all Bill Cosby here because enough is enough. He suggests we go watch My Fair Lady to learn how to speak. Based on the commercials I have seen in the last few days I can’t help but agree. I love that we have our own slang and diction and yes I will fail to conjugate a verb here and there for literary effect. But what’s What The Eff-worthy to me is that we KNOW better than to show up in commercials speaking like runaway slaves but we’d rather take the money and run while sounding like Mantan in front of a mostly white network audience. Furthermore, these are commercials for SNACK FOODS. They are aimed at a demographic that market research has apparently proven does not care about the King’s English. I don’t see any commercials aimed at non-obese upwardly mobile Americans featuring black folks using poorly conjugated verbs. Do we see Dennis Haysbert in those All State commercials going “You in good hands with AllState?” No we do not. Case rested.


  • Ill Mami said:

    It makes me wish that the movie Wildcats had never been exposed to White movie-going audiences: “You U-G-L-Y! You ain’t got no alibi!”

    I just wish White folks would just go away sometimes…

  • MrsGrapevine said:

    Is that the only problem you had with that commercial, the failure to conjugate the verb need? Oh my did you not notice we are endorsing being called “country”. She could have done a commercial for bar-b-que and watermelon flavored chips while shucking and jiving in tap shoes and black face. Not to mention the bad acting!

    For the KFC commercial please go there. Forget the grammar, that commercial is just not right.

    The President of the United States, can’t even speak the King’s language. If I hear him say “Amerrica” one more time I just may move to another country. He has butchered the English language and he went to Yale University for crying out loud.

  • Eddie G. Griffin said:

    A mountain or a molehill?

  • Thembi said:

    Uh, you must be new here.

    My SPECIALTY is making mountains of molehills…the issues raised here are not for those who believe in leaving well enough alone.

  • Julian said:

    A mountain, eddie. now, leap.

  • James Seay said:

    Very sad, that these types of things are acceptable. I will say, however, that most of the people in creative marketing that make these commercials are in fact white (I know, as I am trying to break into this business). Because of the success of minstrel shows like The Flavor of Love or I Love New York, this type of behavior is seen as okay and in some cases normal. We need more black creative directors. Anyone hiring (-:

  • mario0318 said:

    After reading and understanding your rather lengthy article regarding verb conjugation on a commercial in a society way past any care for correction due mainly to the fact that most intellectuals who are in charge of us still use correct English and such petty commercials won’t have much effect on whats already been caused, I find getting a KFC meal with a bag of Doritos very appealing.

    Thank you.

  • shelbyinitalia said:

    lol@julian. oh my god i miss y’all

  • Dara said:

    was that the robot for a second? what does that have to do with chicken? and WHAT does that have to do with country-fied cheerleading???

  • Anonymous said:

    Did you ever catch that scene in “The Fifth Element, where “Deebo”, cast as the President, says: There’s an asteroid headed SCRAIT FOR EARF”

    It’s inexcusable!

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