By Rachel Wells, CNN
(CNN) - Ashton Kutcher's participation in a Popchips video campaign has gone viral, alright, but because of complaints of racism.
The minute-and-a-half long video debuted Wednesday, and presents a string of "bachelors" who are part of a "world wide" dating service, with 34-year-old Kutcher portraying all of the eligible men, including Bollywood producer Raj.
Kutcher, wearing a wig, brown makeup and a mustache, tells viewers in what's likely intended to be an Indian accent that he's looking for "the most delicious thing on the planet."
That characterization has been criticized as racist, and tech entrepreneur Anil Dash has written a thorough account of where he thinks the ad got it wrong.
Dash calls the spot a "hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being he's doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice...I can't imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting on brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad 'funny' accent to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course."
By Stephanie Siek, CNN
(CNN) – Generations of Americans have grown up intimately acquainted with stereotypes of African-Americans, from “mammies” serving Aunt Jemima pancakes, to “Little Black Sambo” at evening story time. In between, people could use washing powder, notepads, ashtrays, tea towels, sugar bowls, swizzle sticks and tobacco marketed with images of African-Americans portrayed as not only mammies and sambos, but dimwitted jungle savages, google-eyed golliwogs, lewdly sexual Jezebels, watermelon-eating pickaninnies and lazy Stepin’ Fetchits. Racist objects were used to open beer bottles, dust lint from coats, hold doors, catch ashes from cigarettes and lure fish, especially in the early 20th century.
The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia owns thousands of items that illustrate these and other stereotypes and attitudes about African-Americans. Housed for About 15 years in a small unused classroom at Big Rapids, Michigan’s Ferris State University, it moved into a $1.3 million, 3,500-square foot campus space in April.
“I used to claim if you named an object, I could find a racist version of it,” said David Pilgrim, Ferris State University vice president for diversity and inclusion, who created and now curates the museum.
Pilgrim, a sociology professor, said he hopes that the museum can one day serve as a place where visitors can witness and deconstruct all kinds of stereotypes. The collection includes objects that denigrate women, gays and lesbians, Mexican-Americans and Native Americans.
People often criticize or question the museum, and say it's best the materials are forgotten. Museum organizers say they're sometimes accused of promoting racism. Pilgrim agrees the museum's collection is offensive, and says the problems of the present can't be analyzed without remembering the past.
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