White People Eat Fried Chicken

Allison Swank
Just as Nelson Mandela went underground as the Black Pimpernel in 1961 to evade the white apartheid government, in this TV ad for  a popular South African fast food chain, this white Afrikaner family goes underground in 1994 to escape Mandela’s black government–what?

And white people eat fried chicken at a food joint whose slogan is “soul food”?

This intermingling of race roles is a clear attempt to normalize black stereotypes of soul and chicken in white culture–which is represented here as uptight and fearful. To sell chicken to white people, Chicken Licken tries to bridge the divide between what is stereotypically white and black, while managing to reinforce both clichés. Over it.

Comments

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Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

6 Comments
  1. Maybe I’m looking too deep into it, but I think this commercial sends a strong message about the change in South African culture following the end of apartheid. First, the family went underground fearful of what would happen in absence of the apartheid structure and with the introduction of black Africans into the public space. While they were underground, however, not only was there a political/social change, but there was also an accompanying cultural shift which allowed black culture (as represented by the fried chicken/soul food) to enter into mainstream Afrikaaner culture. In short, the introduction of black Africans into the public sphere was paralleled by similar introduction of black culture. The result, white people eat fried chicken too.

  2. Since when, please, has fried chicken been seen as a black thing *in South Africa*? I ate it throughout my lilywhite childhood, completely unaware, and so did everyone else I know. I had no idea there was any such stereotypical connotation until I inadvertently offended some Americans, deep into my twenties. So has something shifted in ZA culture when I wasn’t looking (quite possible), or is this yet another cultural projection from that side of the water?

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