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Animal Welfare, Culture, Media

Video of the Day: Red Bull’s Speciesism and Racism

Video Description: A Native American and a Pilgrim walk towards a small group of farm animals. The pig says, “Oh no. This does not look good.” The pig takes out a Red Bull from his non-existent pocket and chugs it down. Then the pig magically grows wings! As he flies away, he tosses the can to the cow: “Here. Oink. Have a red bull and pass it on!” The cow drinks the Red Bull. “Moo!” he says, then the cow magically grows wings! As he flies away, he tosses the can to the  lamb, who drinks without speaking. The lamb magically grows wings, then flies away. As he flies, he tosses the empty Red Bull can to the turkey with the pilgrim and the Native finally approaching.  The turkey bawks in fear and shakes the empty can. He groans, defeated. Cut to the indoor Thanksgiving scene: Around a table are a couple of Pilgrims and a couple of Natives. The turkey, now dead, plucked, and cooked, is served on the plate to the gleeful humans. The Native slams his fork and knife down, one in each hand, on the table. Narrator speaks as the text reads at the bottom: “No Red Bull. No wings.”

Awful. There should be no surprise that an advertisement mocking turkeys would also problematically feature Native Americans. Just look at the main Native American character: The headdress, the face paint, and the facial features. Ugh, stereotypes. And let me get this link in before there someone can say, “But it’s just a funny commercial!” It’s not funny. It’s harmful when the  media creates and reinforces stereotypes.

And then there is the turkey, depicted as unintelligent and useless. The turkey can’t get his wings to work, so off to slaughter he goes. That’s so hilarious! Except it isn’t… This commercial is promoting the continual exploitation of animals for food, when there is nothing funny about the way we get our animal based food. Please watch this footage of Butterball turkeys being kicked, stomped, and suffering from disease and injury. Too bad no one gave those turkeys a Red Bull, right? This commercial is also perpetuating the myth that turkeys are stupid animals who cannot fly. Wild turkeys in real life can indeed fly, are sentient and have impressive cognitive abilities.

You know what modern turkeys cannot do? Thanks to being genetically altered, they cannot walk like they’re supposed to. And that’s not all: Turkeys also can’t mate naturally!  Needless to say, we have done terrible things to magnificent birds. Please don’t support Red Bull in their gross depictions of both human and nonhuman animals, and please reconsider having a turkey for this Thanksgiving.

A wild turkey in flight - without the aid of Red Bull.

A wild turkey in flight – without the aid of Red Bull.

Related: 

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About The Paw Report

I graduated from St. John's University School of Law in 2012, and am admitted to practice law in New York State. I was a member of the New York City Bar Association's Animal Law Committee for three years. I was born and raised in Rhode Island, but moved to New Mexico when I was 18. After dabbling in film for two years, I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Anthropology. I've been living in New York City since 2008, and currently reside in Brooklyn with my boyfriend and our two cats. I am a former organizer with Direct Action Everywhere - New York City.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Video of the Day: Red Bull’s Speciesism and Racism

  1. Thank you so much for writing about this. I Googled “Red Bull turkey commercial” to see if anyone else was talking about this, because I wanted to write about it, and I found your blog. Very well written and I totally agree with you.
    ~Jen

    Like

    Posted by jen | November 21, 2013, 12:18 am
  2. I don’t really mind the stereotypes because lets face it that’s how we were all brought up to see thanksgiving. However the fact that RedBull has no idea turkeys can actually fly makes them seem quite ignorant. I’m amazed so few people realize this.

    Like

    Posted by Mason Hill | November 22, 2013, 1:33 am
  3. I noticed the same thing about the Native Americans. It was over the top and seemed very racist to me. I’m surprised they didn’t have them say “How, white man!” or something lame like that. I hope the next commercial they have Jews with big noses being cheap or something.

    Like

    Posted by Satan | November 28, 2013, 4:52 am
  4. You people need to get a life. This advertisement is funny.

    Like

    Posted by Robert smith | November 29, 2013, 11:46 am
  5. What do I find funny? The voices, the turkey saying awe and the pilgrim and the Indian eating turkey for thanksgiving! You people need to quit dicecting everything looking for racism and being “politicly correct” in everything. As I said before,”get a life” and laugh when it’s funny. Life is to short. Live~love~laugh and I promise you will be happy happy happy!

    Like

    Posted by Robert smith | November 30, 2013, 10:01 am
    • But *why* do you find it funny? You haven’t directly addressed anything I wrote in my post and also haven’t denied the racism and speciesism in the commercial; all that you have said is that I should stop looking for it. I wasn’t really looking for anything – the disregard to a group of people (Native Americans) and disrespect to animals was very blatant. Do you disagree with that? This isn’t about being “politically correct.” That Red Bull has misrepresented and made fun of Native Americans, portrayed grossly inaccurate accounts of history, and made light of the slaughter is animals is problematic. It’s about pointing out all the above and making Red Bull accountable for their actions. If you do not wish to engage in a discussion about this, please feel free to continue living with your blinders on.

      Indeed, life is too short, which is why I’d like to contribute my thoughts while I’m still here, and hope we can progress as a culture to where racist and speciesist commercials are a thing of the past.

      Like

      Posted by The Paw Report | November 30, 2013, 4:03 pm
  6. I just saw this commercial for the first time, & I couldn’t even believe what I saw. Mouth agape, I found it utterly horrifying. I then looked it up praying I wasn’t the only one. This would be like someone mocking Auschwitz & the Holocaust. There is nothing funny about mass genocide, or the annual slaughter of millions of turkeys for a single day. Disgusting, distasteful, & so disrespectful!!! These animals not only sacrifice their lives, but also live their whole life in misery, sufferage, oppression, & exploitation. Redbull, what a failure, you are NOT FUNNY! Redbull & whoever wrote this commercial should just be really ashamed.

    Like

    Posted by Devin Lee | November 23, 2015, 11:04 pm

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