Mixed Race Family: The Cheerios Commercial “Controversy”
Interracial relationships have become increasingly common within North American society. Despite the growing interracial relationships that occur everyday, there still remains significant prejudice and discrimination towards these relationships. This contempt and bigotry towards people in interracial relationships was most recently observed in an online commercial for Cheerios that had to disable its comment section after numerous users made racist and hateful remarks. The problem with the commercial to some viewers, was that a mixed-race family (white mother, black father and biracial daughter) was being portrayed as a ‘modern loving family’ and many viewers were offended and took to the virtual realm to express quite negatively, how inappropriate they felt it was to portray an interracial family in a commercial. The severe backlash of this commercial is interesting, as one would assume that anyone living within North America, much less the 21st Century would be more accustom to seeing interracial families and relationships develop. However, the racist comments proved that despite the open-mindedness of others, race relations are still a big issue within society. Although the Cheerios commercial became viewed as a controversial commercial by some viewers, Tellwut marketing website conducted a survey to find out how Tellwut panel members perceived this commercial and the controversy that surrounded it. In the survey conducted, 4574 panel members were asked how they felt when they saw the commercial for the first time. According to the results generated, most of the Tellwut panel members expressed that they received the commercial in a positive light as: 50% found the commercial to be ‘cute’; 46% found them to be a nice family and 42% thought that the commercial promoted Cheerios as a healthy option. Only 5% of panel members surveyed felt that interracial families/couples should not be represented in the media; reflecting that most panel members did not see an issue with the commercial. The survey results also revealed that an overwhelming amount (73%) of panelist surveyed felt that the people who wrote racist comments about the commercial were overreacting; while 10% felt that there was reason to react negatively towards the online commercial. Interestingly, a video was created to examine how kids reacted when they saw the interracial family in the Cheerios commercial, and every single child interviewed thought that the video was normal. In fact, the kids were shocked and confused as to why people had an issue with the mixed race family that was depicted in the commercial. Despite the fact that not everyone found the commercial to be inappropriate, the amount of negative remarks that plagued the comment section on YouTube was enough to disable further comments from being made; demonstrating that words truly do hurt. When asked whether it was a good decision for Cheerios to disable the comments under their YouTube commercial, 46% of panel members felt that it was good that they disabled the comments in order to prevent racist comments from being displayed. In contrast, 30% of panel members felt that it was unnecessary to disable comments from being made on their channel; while 23% of voters remained undecided on this topic. Whether or not people agree with Cheerios decision to disable comments from being made on their YouTube commercial, it is apparent that race relations is a big issue in society that needs to be addressed. Perhaps, we can learn something from the children in this generation and begin to see the character of a person first, before we judge them by the color of their skin.