Ashton Kutcher's 'brown face' PopChips ad causes controversy
Ashton Kutcher's Popchips ad has caused controversy over allegations that the "Two and a Half Men" star is wearing "brown face."
In the new campaign for the snack company, which began on May 2, Kutcher is seen portraying several different characters vying for dates on a fake dating website, but only one character has caused backlash - the Bollywood producer named Raj. To portray Raj, the actor appears in dark makeup, wearing a traditional Indian outfit.
"I'm Raj, I'm a Bollywood producer. I'm looking for the most delicious thing on the planet, like Kardashian hot," Kutcher says in an Indian accent in the advertisement. "I would give that dog a bone."
Popchips founder and CEO Keith Belling issued an apology on the company's website writing, "We received a lot feedback about the dating campaign parody we launched today and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view. Our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended."
A spokesperson for the company also said in a statement that the video "was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone," adding: "At popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended."
Tech blogger Anil Dash, who was one of the biggest critics of the ad, wrote on his website, "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 that they didn't even realize they were doing it."
Kutcher portrays four different personalities in total in the ad: A hippie named Nigel with a British accent, a fashion diva (who looks like Karl Lagerfeld) named Darl, a bearded biker named swordfish and Raj.
Kutcher is seen as himself at the end of the video, asking about the "freak show" in the waiting room. The commercial then directs the viewer to visit the dating site WorldWideLovers.com. The site redirects the user to install a Facebook app by the same name.
According to The New York Times, Kutcher has been involved with marketing for the company since 2010, when he was named the "President of Pop Culture" for the brand. The report estimates that the campaign is budgeted at $1.5 million and will include video, outdoor ads and social media outreach on Facebook and YouTube.
Kutcher was recently rumored to be dating his former "That '70s Show" co-star Mila Kunis. Kutcher, and Kunis, 28, played a couple on the show, which helped launch their careers. The show ran from 1998 to 2006.
Kutcher and wife Demi Moore split in 2011. Since then, he has been linked romantically with "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" screenwriter Lorene Scafaria and singer Rihanna. His spokesperson has said the actor and Scafaria are just friends, while Rihanna herself said at a press conference in March, when asked about the matter, that she is "happy and single."
Check out the controversial dating video with Kutcher below.