It is surely not uncommon for Jamaica to make international headlines. Whether it’s for sports, culture or entertainment, the fact that Jamaicans are a cut above the rest means that we are constantly in the spotlight. Recently, a Volkswagen Super Bowl ad sparked some amount of controversy. The ad featured a Caucasian, Minnesotan man pretending to be a Jamaican. The man garbled in Jamaican patois and attempted to cheer up the dreary corporate world around him.
The Volkswagen ad fuelled much fury and disgruntlement, emanating from many quarters. Here on the Caribbean Current, we debunked the concerns that the ad had presented offensive material. Now, another German company Saturn, has burnt the Jamaican flag in a new commercial that is supposed to be ‘humorous’.
Using Barrington Levy’s Murderer as soundtrack, the ad shows two white young men who, while making coffee in a shop, inadvertently start a fire that ignites a Jamaican flag hanging in the establishment.
What’s In the Ad?
After the flag catches ablaze, one of the men then carries the burning flag outside, throws it on the sidewalk and begins stomping on it in a bid to quell the blaze.
Another man rushed from the street to assist with putting out the blaze, but their actions were caught on tape and later released across the world on television stations sparking a massive protest with Rastafarians, and other demonstrators waving flags and posters with messages of “we love Jamaica”. At the end of the video, the message displayed on the screen in the German tongue says the world needs better technology.
Burning the Jamaican Flag?!
Now, let’s put things into perspective. In the ad, the men were filmed by a surveillance camera and a passer-by. A distress signal is activated and causes complete chaos on the roads and protests against the burning of the flag. So the major idea presented is the effect of misunderstanding caused/propelled by technology. Be that as it may, I’ll have you know that regardless of the intention of the ad— however pure— the contents were extremely disrespectful. In other words, why did Saturn use the Jamaican flag? Why not the German flag? Why use a flag?
It’s not only against the law, but an extreme sign of disrespect to treat the Jamaican flag in any imprudent manner. You cannot, in any case place the flag on the ground; you cannot place it below instructional flags, etc. As you can imagine, you simply cannot set fire to the flag!
Ok, so all this happened in an ad which is not a demonstration of real life. The problem with that is that in reality, the flag had to have been burnt on the set. In fact it is highly possible that in reruns of the scene, multiple Jamaican flags were burnt. In no way can we consider this acceptable behaviour.
Why Not the German Flag?
If you’ve never been to Jamaica, you may easily class the island as a third world country. While we are not first world, I believe the designation as a developing nation is certainly a much more accurate description.
So, the world needs better technology. Is Saturn presenting Jamaica as a classic case of technological backwardness? Should the fact that Jamaica is developing nation give credence to the ideas expressed in the ad?
Image Credit: http://jamaica-gleaner.com
Not only have Saturn disrespected a sacred national symbol, in a strikingly offensive nature, but they have effectively tarnished the sovereignty of a sacred emblem. Jamaicans hold the Jamaican flag in high regard and regardless of the fact that the idea presented in the ad was possibly not meant to be disrespectful, defacing the Jamaican flag is simply outrageous and cannot be condoned.
By Norvan Martin
Black Green Gold