A new "viral campaign" (read: advertisement) for Pop Chips that features Ashton Kutcher impersonating a "Bollywood producer" who's "looking for the most delicious thing on the planet" has generated a great deal of controversy.
Shortly after the advertisements went online, a number of Twitter users began criticizing the actor and company for using a white actor for the Indian character. Kutcher shakes his head as he speaks and effects a strong accent in the clip. The "brownface" controversy quickly took hold, with prominent Twitter personalities like writer Anil Dash and New York rappers Das Racist (the name existed before their claims) tweeting their disgust with the campaign.
UPDATE 2: It appears that while the other videos remain online, Pop Chips has pulled down the "Raj" spot in question after the story did not go away. Though the character remains in a compilation video, the individual "Raj" ad is no longer on the Pop Chips YouTube page. You can view part of the clip in the video at the top of this post.
UPDATE: Pop Chips has responded to the criticism with a statement. Via THR:
"The new popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone. At popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended."
The ad campaign reportedly cost $1.5 million and also features Kutcher impersonating a hippie, a biker-type and Karl Lagerfeld.
Some users responded to Das Racist's tweets saying they were overreacting, but it's hardly the first viral scandal for Kutcher. The actor actually "quit" Twitter after tweeted support for Joe Paterno, who was relieved of his Penn State coaching duties after he was connected to a sex abuse scandal at that school's football program. Kutcher apologized and said that he did not know why Paterno was fired when he tweeted his reaction and control of his account was handed over to his staff.
He also got into it with The Village Voice over the paper's infamous "Backpage" advertisements, which Kutcher and many child safety advocates claim offers a safe haven for pedophiles and child traffickers.
What do you think of the ad? Does it go too far?
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that the advertisement came out in February in the UK. That's not true, and the article above has been corrected.
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