Ashton Kutcher slammed for 'brownface' chips ad

May 04, 2012, 07:00 IST | Agencies

The Hollywood actor drew severe ire for portraying an Indian man in brown make-up in an online ad campaign

An advertising campaign that stars Ashton Kutcher has been pulled from the internet after being accused of “racism”.

The Two And A Half Men star appears in brown make-up as a Bollywood producer in a dating website spoof for Popchips.

But the online ad was removed from Facebook and YouTube after a viewer backlash.

The character, Raj, claims he’s looking for a woman like Kim Kardashian and adds: “I would give that dog a bone.”

And he claims to have won a milking contest before getting up from his seat and performing a Bollywood style dance.

New York writer Anil Dash called for an apology and wrote: “I can’t imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting brown make-up on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent in order to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course.”

 He added, “I think the people behind this Popchips ad are not racist. I think they just made a racist ad, because they’re so steeped in our culture’s racism they didn’t even realise they were doing it.”

Hip-hop group Das Racist, two of whom are Indian, tweeted: “They got to pull this s*** and apologise, that’s it. It’s 2012, come on.”

A YouTube user wrote: “Ashton thinking he could become relevant again by putting on racist brownface, acting like Indian men are all creepers (who have moustaches), and attempting caricatures of popular filmy dances.”

‘Us racist? No!’
The crisp company defended the ad, which also sees Ashton Kutcher morph into a hippy, an effeminate fashionista and a bearded biker, before appearing as himself.

In a statement issued to a US website, a spokesman said: “The new Popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone. At Popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavours and colours, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”

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