Acura has released an apology – of sorts – for language its ad agency used to recruit actors for the car brand’s Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno-starring Super Bowl TV commercial.
As TMZ reported this week, the agency had posted a casting call for African American actors who are "nice looking, friendly, not too dark."
"We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials," Acura said.
The company assures the public it is taking “appropriate measures” to "ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand."
Like most apologies released today by corporations, politicians and celebrities – none of whom would ever admit to being responsible for doing bad deeds – Acura's statement doesn't indicate the company is sorry for doing wrong, only that it feels sorry if some people might have been offended.
How grave is the ad agency’s sin?
The company could say they wanted to hire someone with a specific look because of purely aesthetic considerations.
But the aesthetic is never easily untangled from the ethical: Isn't the agency assuming that light-skinned African Americans are aesthetically preferable?
Doesn’t that preference spring from an ethical and social one, specifically, an ethical judgment derived from an entrenched, age-old and vicious assumption that lighter-skinned African Americans are more relatable for a white audience.
An assumption that in turn relies on the prejudiced assumption that lighter-skinned individuals are more “normal"; somehow better than darker skinned people.
You see the conundrum?