Arby’s to the Irish: can’t you take a joke?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This Arby’s commercial is making some Irish-Americans really angry. Check out this recent letter to the editor of Irish America magazine (hat tip HighJive):

A television commercial currently aired by Arby’s restaurants features a group of laboratory chimpanzees so happy to have sampled Arby’s product that they break into a traditional Irish step dance. Rather than elicit my normal belly laugh, I was immediately reminded of the horrendous Punch and [Thomas] Nast political cartoons that lampooned our people in the past. The sting was immediate, taking my breath away.

This web site has some examples of the way Irish people were regularly depicted with simian features as “hot-headed, old-fashioned, and drunkards” and as “uncivilized, unskilled and impoverished.” Let’s not forget that not too long ago, the Irish weren’t regarded as white.

So what was Arby’s response? Well, typical, really:

We’re sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with our current advertising.

Many times we choose to use tongue-in-cheek humor and satire in our commercials in an effort to communicate information about the Arby’s menu in an engaging and entertaining manner.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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