The 'Lost Bushmen'

It is still okay to create the most objectionable stereotypes about certain Africans and for it to be considered fine.

An Indian soft drink company, Parle Agro, is marketing a new soft drink, called LMN, with a series of  5 TV commercial series titled “Lost Bushmen” set “… in the [Bushmen’s] natural habitat of the Kalahari Dessert.” Serious.

Here’s another one:

They were proud to announce that they got inspiration for these objectionable stereotypes about the San (Bushmen to most of you) from the film, “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” first made for the entertainment of white South African audiences under Apartheid and which became an international hit franchise in the 1980s, confirming just how widely held racist views of the San are held.

And for all the claims of the filmmakers of the Indian commercials that “the Bushmen” were “specially flown in”, some of the actors seen in the videos (above and below) are clearly in black face (with cork-like black make-up and/or hair pieces). They’re playing “Bushmen.” It also turns out the commercials were shot in “… in a barren region in the interiors of Thailand.”

These racist stereotypes are praised by ad industry types (particularly in India) as “hilarious” and “edgy.”

You really can’t make these things up.

— Sean Jacobs



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. Objectionable stereotypes? Wow for godsake. there are african tribals and bushmen who exist in the world. Why are we running away from the fact.
    By that logic we'll find most things in the world objectionable:
    The world cup opening in south africa used african stereo types (if you may call it)for its opening act. Not cool africans in urban attire. I'm sure you must have a problem with this too
    America awarded slumdog millionaire more oscars than any for their so called sterotypical portrayal of India and Indians.
    The list would be endless.
    Open your mind. I love africa too. As much as I love china or india or korea. I dont find these ads objectionable at all. If you don't like the humor. Don't laugh. But please do not use your dislike to spread hatred.

  2. Those guys are probably from the Kerala region. Not 'flown in' Africans. As to the comment above, sadly, it's typical of 'our' self-protective culture:
    a) don't like something? Go away. Don't critique (that's 'hate'), not an invitation, an opening or a possibility for a dialogue that allows parties to address a situation/conflict of opinions as equals. Airing dirty laundry makes the family look bad.
    b) other people do it much worse, so why are you upset? America gave awards to Slumdog, which reinforces stereotypes about the poor; World Cup organisers used stereotypes right in your backyeard (as if South Africans or Africans in general had much control over Sep Blatter's party). Classic deflect attention from this particular instance/people involved.
    c) You are too sensitive. My backhanded slap is not offensive bec. I love you. If you begin whining about this now, imagine: the list of complaints will be endless.

    Finally, I'll direct people to my recent article about the manner in which ad makers use the bodies of the indigenous to sell various elixirs (so that more than 3 people read it, and so my university knows I don't just blog all day):
    "Impenetrable Bodies/Disappearing Bodies: Fat American Celebrities, Lean Indigenous People, and Multinational Pharmaceuticals in the Battle to Claim Hoodia gordonii" in the special issue of Popular Communication ( 9: 79–98, 2011), guest edited by Sean Jacobs himself.

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