Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Open Unhappiness

I haven't seen a more offensive advertising since Donald Trump last opened his mouth. Mistakenly thinking that its role in society is to do good, Coca-Cola Mexico came up with a campaign to "open your heart" and "break prejudice". Which is fine. We don't listen to someone like the Pope when he exhorts us to do the same, but if Coke says it, the entire Mexican nation is sure to follow through. After all, it is a known fact that Mexicans drink far more Coke than water.
In the commercial, a bunch of young white models, all behaving in slow motion, get into a hipstery looking truck, and, supremely enamored of their own munificence, arrive at an indigenous Mixe village in Oaxaca to spread their self-congratulatory, privileged joy. There, instead of bringing education, jobs, better housing, opportunities, water, curiosity, respect, understanding, equality, any sort of practical help, or simply begging humbly for forgiveness, they unload coolers filled with ice-cold Cokes and, armed with plywood, "build" a hideous Christmas tree made of Coca-Cola bottles that happens to look like a deformed Coke bottle and which says something like "let's keep the unity" in the Mixe language.
According to The Guardian, where you can still see the spot, there were calls to take this preposterous garbage off the internet, for the expected reasons: patronizing the Mixe people, and by extension all the indigenous cultures of Mexico, while encouraging their consumption of a drink that can only hasten their tooth decay, their diabetes, and their death.
To me, this, although true, is not the biggest problem. I love Coke and will love it until it causes my untimely demise. In my case, the demonization of its sugar content falls on deaf ears.

Forget about the tone-deaf impropriety of a foreign company that peddles what many people consider syrupy poison telling Mexicans how to deal with their "prejudice".
Forget about the absurd appropriation of a Christmas tree by discarded product.
Forget the wholesale contempt for the original religious and cultural traditions of the indigenous Mexican peoples.
Forget about the imposition of Christmas, consumerism, cavities and Coca-Cola by a bunch of insufferable rich twats pretending to "give back" while they look down on the "indians".
Forget, if you can, the plywood.
What makes one retch is the abject cluelessness of an ad that preaches against prejudice while completely avoiding the vast majority of Mexicans, who are neither resplendent white specimens nor indigenous people.
Where are the people who represent most Mexicans, not just the ones at the very top and the very bottom of society? Where's the working class? Where's that mythically expanding Mexican middle class everyone talks about? In short, where are all the other brown people?
As is traditional in Mexican advertising, they don't exist. They are rarely, if ever to be found in a commercial.
This ad is no different from the great majority of ads in Mexico, which, unless they are public service announcements, almost exclusively cast people who seem to have arrived recently from Scandinavia or the tonier confines of Buenos Aires. But in this case, for maximum absurdity and bitter unintended irony, it also stars, probably for the first time in the history of Mexican corporate marketing, a number of forsaken natives, and not even this fact could make the advertising agency, the casting agency, the director and the client consider representing all the rest of the actual people who drink their beverage, and who are hounded every second of their lives by the racism the ad purports to fight.
People who deny that Mexican society is predicated on the most enduring, insidious racism need to be subjected to an endless loop of this ad, like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.
So do the people who made it. Ad infinitum.