'We are not amused, Ashton'
Trust Hollywood funnyman Ashton Kutcher to stir up a storm. This time, he is under fire for an online ad featuring him as a 39-year-old Indian. The ad, that was posted online on Wednesday, was taken off Youtube and Facebook immediately after viewers called it 'racist'.chandigarh Updated: May 04, 2012 13:20 IST
Trust Hollywood funnyman Ashton Kutcher to stir up a storm. This time, he is under fire for an online ad featuring him as a 39-year-old Indian. The ad, that was posted online on Wednesday, was taken off Youtube and Facebook immediately after viewers called it 'racist'.
The images and video for American snack brand PopChips features the 34-year-old star with his face painted brown to portray a Bollywood producer named Raj, who is "looking for love". The commercial has been slammed by numerous commentators, including US-based tech blogger Anil Dash, who sent out a series of tweets, beginning with, "Hey, startups that are helping @aplusk get richer, can you tell him that racist brownface ads aren't cool? Thanks!"
Brooklyn based comedian of Indian origin, Hari Kondabolu tweeted, "I AM NOT AMUSED ASHTON KUTCHER (@aplusk). RACISM TO SELL POP CHIPS???" He added, "Hey Non-Indian Comedians who use the accent for a laugh: Now that Ashton Kutcher has done it, how about we agree it's corny & you stop?"
This is not the only such instance. The opening scene of The Avengers drew flak as it showed The Hulk's alter ego, Dr Bruce Banner, hiding in filthy Kolkata slums. Another film, 21 Jump Street had a scene casting digs at "Indian friendship bracelets".
However, Bollywood actors who've worked in Hollywood say it's no big deal. "Normally, while writing a part of a particular nationality, the writer refers to a person known to them, or through a source. It is these sources who give wrong advice. Hollywood does not have a reason to play Indians in bad light," says Gulshan Grover. "Let's not lose our sense of humour," says Kabir Bedi.
The founder of PopChips, Keith Belling, tweeted in his defence: "We worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologise to anyone we offended."