Could it have been subtle racism or just pure coincidence?
Many viewers of the 2012 Olympics are asking this after a commercial ran featuring a monkey on gymnastics rings following commentary by Bob Costas on Gabby Douglas’s gold medal inspiring other African-American girls to follow in her foot steps.
Many found the commercial, an ad for the upcoming NBC comedy “Animal Practice,” to be offensive. NBC claims it previously scheduled the commercial to run late Thursday night following the women’s gold medal competition and had no knowledge of Costas’ commentary, according to The Associated Press.
“Much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas,” Costas said. “Also safe to say that there are some young African-American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, ‘Hey, I’d like to try that, too.”
The network then switched to the commercial with the small, widely grinning monkey on the rings. During America’s racially turbulent history, African Americans have been referred to as many disrespectful terms, including monkeys.
In 2009, The New York Post caught heat for an insensitive cartoon taking aim at our country’s first African-American president. The cartoon likened a dead and bleeding chimpanzee to Barack Obama.
Two police officers stand over the dead monkey with their guns drawn. A caption for the cartoon reads: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
Vogue magazine featured Miami Heat star Lebron James and Gisele Bundchen appearing on an April 2008 cover. James received praise for being the first black man to grace its cover. But the cover had an underlying racially insensitive theme. James is likened to King Kong and Bundchen a white damsel in distress.
“Gabby Douglas’ gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement,” NBC Universal spokeswoman Liz Fischer said. “The spot promoting ‘Animal Practice,’ which has run three times previously, is one in a series with an Olympic theme, which have been scheduled for maximum exposure. Certainly no offense was intended.”
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