by Dr. Boyce Watkins, BlackBlueDog.com
Mary J. Blige says that she was initially quite happy to be offered a chance to sing for Burger King in a recent commercial spot.
“It was sold to us that I would be shot in an iconic way,” Blige told Hot 97’s Angie Martinez. “I did it because I thought it was something that wouldn’t come out like that.”
What Mary got was something short of the original artistic vision. Instead, the final cut was the kind of buffoonery that would make Flavor Flav quite proud.
“I would never just bust out singing about chicken and chicken wings,” said Blige.
Blige went on to say that the controversy “hurt my feelings. It crushed me for like two days.”
Burger King did pull the ad, but says that it didn’t do so because of the racial controversy. Instead, the company has cited licensing issues for the reason that it cut the ad off faster than you can say, “Boss, I sho be needin some mo fried chicken!”
“I want to apologize to everyone who was offended who thought I would do something that was so disrespectful to our culture,” she said.
“I would never do anything like that. I thought I was doing something right.”
When I saw Mary put out this ad, I froze in my tracks, whispering the words “Mary, Mary, Mary” under my breath. It hurt me for more than two days and I was just saddened to see this go down. To be honest, the ad totally changed the way I see Blige as an artist, and I admit that I don’t believe that they released this ad without showing her the final copy (I can’t imagine her management being that irresponsible with her likeness). The scandal in which Mary’s team is responsible for losing charity money to keep kids in college also made me lift an eyebrow or two. I’m not sure what’s going on with Mary, and I hope that she’s OK.
At the same time, this Burger King debacle is very similar to the Adidas controversy last week where someone decided that it would be a great idea to put shackles on a pair of sneakers that would be worn by a lot of black kids. These “marvels of corporate America” are merely a reflection of the fact that most corporations do not adopt meaningful diversity in their ranks. Their decisions are made in a vacuum, and that’s how they end up being caught up in racial firestorms.
I still love Mary J. Blige, but I hope she can avoid the drama for at least a few more years. The last thing any of us needs is to see Mary’s soulful gifts being used to praise a piece of d**n chicken. I also hope that her management team realizes that people are only going to accept these excuses for so long. You don’t want the public to think that you’re willing to sell every ounce of your integrity for money (or chicken).