Lynx Black advert: modern racist stereotyping

The new advert for Lynx Black which is being shown on mainstream TV

You may well have seen the new TV advert for Lynx’s latest product range, Lynx Black. You may well have thought not much of it. Alternatively, like me, you would have been suspended in disbelief at what you were witnessing and that it could be allowed to be televised in twenty-first century, multicultural Britain.

In the opening seconds of the advert the words ‘welcome to the jungle’ are heard as an image of a group of black men – laden in thick gold chains, wearing bandanas and generally made to look gangster – appears on screen. This is immediately problematic for me for several reasons. Firstly, the image of these black men is entirely playing upon a negative stereotype, that of the black man as a violent beast and a predator, which has been popularised since slavery. The central man has his trousers half way down revealing his boxers and appears to be snarling towards the camera, only perpetuating the racist propaganda repeated in America’s history during and immediately after slavery of the black man as sexual predator; the very propaganda which got black males like Emmett Till – and the countless African American men lynched because they were supposedly a threat to white women – killed. This stereotype is not new but it is incredibly shocking to see it so blatantly splashed across our TV screens in this manner, particularly in light of the civil unrest in America right now because of exactly such negative stereotyping and demonization of black males, which has led to so many of them being wrongfully deemed a threat; a criminal and then killed. Then there is the fact that an image of black men – one of whom, as I have already mentioned, has been made to snarl in a manner that the dog he is holding would – has been directly associated with the word ‘jungle.’ Again the tired old racist ideology which cast black people as animalistic, unintelligent sub-humans (who were therefore fine to use as slaves, as the argument went) has undergone an unsubtle twenty-first century makeover.

This racist narrative only gets worse when, after passing through the ‘jungle’ of black men we are shown white people dressed in suits and glitzy outfits frivolously throwing money about.

A blonde, white woman who has fought her way through the ‘loud’ ‘jungle,’ is now greeted by a well-suited white man with whom she can escape the chaos and heathenism, with whom she can enjoy ‘the quiet’ ('quiet' here apparently being synonymous with ‘civilisation’ as the pair head towards a city of lights).

Finally a range of brand new Lynx Black products appears on the screen – described to viewers as ‘an understated grooming range for men.’ So what message has the advert taught us? Well that black men are somewhat primitive and intimidating whereas the nicely ‘groomed’ and suited (i.e. “civilised”) white man at the end can win the girl because he is the ideal.

Lynx please choose a name that does not feature the word ‘black’ for a product which has been advertised in a manner which is deeply insulting and prejudiced towards black men.