Sometimes you really have to wonder who exactly is in the room when they are coming up with advertising and marketing ideas. An advertisement for the new Fox television show “Red Band Society” that featured a photo of actress Octavia Spencer next to the words “Scary Bitch” was pulled from Los Angeles Metro buses Thursday.
Activists complained that it was racist and offensive. Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman said the agency decided to remove the ad because that label “denigrates women.” Ummm…you think?
Sadly, the ads had been up for five weeks and were placed on 190 buses before Metro decided to take any action. A decision was finally made on Thursday at a Metro committee meeting where a few dozen protesters showed up to speak against the ads. Protestor Jasmyne Cannick, said the nickname perpetuates negative stereotypes about black women.
“I don’t know if I find it more offensive because I’m black, or more offensive because I’m a woman,” said Cannick, 36. “I sometimes think our city forgets that there are black people who still live here and call Los Angeles home.”
If one were to watch the previews for the show, they would learn that “Scary Bitch” is the nickname for Spencer’s character on the show – hahaha she gets the Starbucks people to write it on her Starbucks cup! (Writer sarcasm included). While I’m sure this nickname is something they will play up and make a focal point for her character, how would one know this while they were standing at the bus stop? Just imagine seeing Spencer’s face and the words ‘scary bitch’ scrawled beside it. The image and the accompanying words reinforce the ‘angry Black woman’ descriptor and label that we have to push back against every day. Shonda Rhimes just had to do it on Twitter earlier today.
While in this case the Los Angeles Metro should have been more stringent with their advertising policy and what they chose to display, one can’t help but question the person or people who created this ad in the first place. And then who approved it? Who said, yes let’s send this out into the world? That’s really where the problem begins.
The ads may be gone from the buses, but unfortunately the mentality behind it remains.