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read_me.gif Southern Voice Washington Blade

Joe No Go

Boxer coons it up

by j. brotherlove

Speaking of porch monkeys — here’s something to make Marlon Riggs roll over in his grave. I don’t want to over-react but, what the hell is going on with the marketing buffoons at Joe Boxer? Has anyone else seen their commercial featuring a lone, clean-shaven black man dancing in his underwear? His dance begins innocuously and quickly escalates into a Carlton swing before erupting into a Stepin Fetchit jig; complete with watermelon grin.

I am  so.   not.    kidding.


Addendum (09/10/02)

To all visitors (especially from Google or Slate/MSN).

This is a personal website - not the National Page of Underwear Ads & Comments. I didn’t make the commercial, so there is no need to contact me. Besides, I’m not as passionate about this topic as most of you seem to think - I wrote this in July.

I don’t have an “agenda” against Joe Boxer or Vaughn. I simply posted my feelings on my site. There has been plenty of feedback in support and in opposition of the commercial; you may agree or disagree with those, as well. Either way is fine with me.

I am flattered my comment has gotten so much attention. However, I am not interested in hosting this discussion (that’s why comments have been disabled). Please search elsewhere.

Thank you.


pub: 07/30/2002 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 115 | subscribe

I just saw that last night…I watched the entire thing I was so amazed.

I don’t understand the dance, the room, the goofy smile…you put this on after one of those R&B McDonald’s commercials (can we not sing love songs to the new flatbread chicken sandwich?) my head will explode with the fury of a thousand Spike Lees

Yes, I saw that crap last night. All I could think was “WTF?!?!”

I have seen it for a week, and think to myself: ‘I KMart really THAT desperate for business?!’

Worse: ‘Is that guy that desperate for work to be in a KMart ad?!’ He cute and all, but…corny, corny, corny.

LOL!! I saw, jaw was on the floor, then hoped I was dreaming… or having a nightmare.

Argh! It comes on during morning television. (Disgust courtesy of the Today Show)

Daytime television is evil. I thought you knew.

i have been wondering the SAME DAMN THING!!!

i thought i was missing something - but i guess it is just a happy negro dancin’ in his underwear…

See, this is how living in Canada messes with your brain. I saw the commercial last night too and I actually *GIGGLED*. I didn’t think about Stepin Fetchit until the very end. I saw the ad and thought of it in the same vein as the iMac commercial with the brother with the baldy — lighthearted, a bit irreverent, and basically harmless. And who hasn’t danced around in their underwear? Granted, we might not have done it on TV, but still…

Now, if I were still living in Atlanta, I’d have organized a picket at K-Mart by now.

Accursed Canadian tolerance. ;-)

I am still laughing at “my head will explode with the fury of a thousand Spike Lees”.

10. ronn

I know I’m late on this, but I actually agree with Cecily. And I’m not even Canadian! Seriously, I thought the grin was fake, too much, but isn’t it always on TV?

Maybe I’m distracted by the cuteness. Bald, buff and smiling?! Don’t blame me. ;-)

11. mo

I thought *I* was overreacting…. just saw the commercial a few days ago and it nearly made me crap my pants! What in the hell is that kind of minstrel-type shit doing on tv?!!? I know I’m not going to be buying any damn Joe Boxers… don’t people know better? I guess not. Everyone I mentioned it to thought nothing of it, like ‘what’s the problem?’ but I think that makes me even *more* upset. How hard is it to see the historical relevance?

12. weethreesistas

Lighten up! We think this guys handsome, sweet, fit, confident and a total hoot! Black, white, red or yellow……most men “get jiggy with it” in their skivvys every now and again…. AND speaking on behalf of WOMEN EVERYWHERE……WE LIKE IT!!! We will be buyin’ our men some JB’s in hope that they too will be INSPIRED, first they make us smile…..THEN WE MAKE THEM SMILE……;) Grow up and stop whining and perpetuating stereotypes… We have known for years that all black men are not chicken eatin’, basketball playin’, drive by shootin’ “brothers”.. and all white men are not beer drinkin’, chevy drivin’, confederate flag wavin’ idiots with chrome-siloute boobie girls on their mudflaps (and thank GOD for that!). September 11th should of taught you all something, and that is that prejudice promotes hate!! Give peace (and the Joe Boxer Hottie) a chance!

13. praisedancer

After seeing this commercial I was so shocked and unhappy I had to search for comments on this commercial to see if it was just me. All I could think by the end of that commercial was, that black man (and really, any black actor) should NOT have done that commercial. How could he act like that? Weethreesistas, you do not speak on MY behalf or the behalf of the dozens of women I’ve talked to. Regardless of the physical attributes of that brother, this commercial in NO way compels me to purchase Joe Boxers for my man. My feelings do not rest personally with this particular actor but it is sad to see anyone subject themselves to this type of buffoonery for hire. I appreciate seeing a fine fit man in nothing but his undies as well as the next woman. However, dancing is one thing, being told and paid to hop around like a fool a whole other issue.

14. Kelly

I LOVE that commercial!!

15. erica

I love that commercial. I only wish I always had such a cheery disposition just from wearing underwear.

16. karen

I love it when I see that great, gorgeous guy dancing and having a good time AND I hope getting paid Big$$$ Can’t you see he’s goofing on the “stereotype” and STILL looking sexy??!

17. Stormygirl

This is one of the few commercials I’ll put down my book to watch! Even giggle! I’ve begun to dance with that beautiful guy! It’s wonderfully irreverent and a blast to watch. Yes I might just buy my man Joe Boxers!

I hate to say it, but do we always have to go looking for stereotypes? That’s what continues to separate people. Relax already….


You’ve gotta be kidding me. Are you guys serious? You actually LIKE that retarded sh*t?? Whether it perpetuates stereotypes or not, it’s the corniest commercial I’ve seen in a while. I was like, please tell me I did not just see that commercial…please tell me this dude did not just get on tv and make a complete and utter fool out of himself. Yes, the guy is very sexy, but the commercial is stupid. Point blank.

oh, and Jason’s post was absolutely hilarious!

19. IrishEyes

I think it’s cute! I LOVE it. I like how happy he is and I like that he’s dancing around having fun. We women do that occasionally when we are in great moods. We will dance around and feel good. It’s a release and it was adorable. He is enjoying life! Besides, he looks pretty cute too. Love the bunny dance! :)

20. lesrom

I LOVE IT! The music is so catchy and is what keeps me watching/listening for the commercial. My two year old comes running when the music starts…and my two year old could care less about the guy. And as for me…the guy is just a little sexy, silly, mind candy to boot. I have ultimate tv and I replay this over and over and over.

And for all you “green eyed” boys that dislike this commercial…how many “T and A” mind candy commercials have you been drawn to? And I’m sure it was the music that probably drew you in too!

21. youkiddingmebro

this commercial is great! jbrother is reading way to much in to this!
Carlton rules anyhoooo!

“mind candy”? Oh, is that what it is? Call me crazy, but I don’t think you need a mind to enjoy it. I guess anyone who seriously thinks that Carlton “rules” would probably find Joe Boxer’s ad quite stimulating. It’s pretty obvious from the response (IT’S SO GREAT WE LOVE IT LEAVE HIM ALONE HE’S ADORABLE!)why clueless advertisers continue to run idiotic commercials. Ignorance is a disease folks…

23. sonja j.

Wow. I thought I was the only one who hated it. If my television had a neck I would have strangled it when that commercial came on. Guard your macaroni factories Kraft, Joe Boxer is stealing all your cheese.

I think someone described it best when they said, “he looks like a two-year-old who’s just gone pee-pee by himself for the very first time”

My three-year-old likes the commercial too, but my three-year-old also likes to gargle with mashed potatoes, so needless to say she’s not the one I turn to for intelligent critical commentary. I’m not black, but even I know that it’s perpetuating stereotypes, not “looking for them” that separates us. Not that I had to look for it…it obnoxiously danced it’s corny ass across my television screen. I love a sexy guy just as much as the next girl, but I also like my men with half a brain.

24. Roy James

This commercial is great, I laugh all the way through it. This guy is having fun and is not afraid of showing it. In my opinion there should be more laugh stimulating commercials like this, it really shines over the hum drum everyday ads.

25. mike

I really don’t understand why this dude is so happy about a pair of damn underwear. What is in that fabric? I must get some so that I can shred them up and smoke them.

26. cathandra

This is truly the only commercial I have absolutely LOVED in my life! His energy, silliness, and downright *confidence* is not only sexy, but is a joy to watch. I even downloaded it, because they don’t play it here anymore - they’ve switched to a bunch of goofy cheerleaders. (all this stereotype stuff never even occurred to me, btw)

To all the naysayers: Pull the corncobs out and lighten up!! Life is short, enjoy it while you can. =)

27. ella

you downloaded it? um…can we say somebody has no life? the only thing that “shines” about this ad is that dude’s bouncy bald head.

28. Tasha

I am very uncomfortable about this ad and especially now that I have read the posts of people who are offended by it(something I didn’t realize at first)
I wouldn’t like to see a white guy or anyone of any race doing this dance the whole thing is offensive

29. diana

I love that commercial. I will stop what I am doing and watch it and it makes me happy! Where can you download it from?

30. camm

It’s always interesting to discover that ignorance really is “bliss” as they say. Okay, granted those who don’t know any better probably wouldn’t see the historical relevance, but damn…what about the fact that the dude looks absolutely ridiculous? Is that all it takes to make a black man grin and dance like a monkey? Put him in a clean pair of underpants? I love to laugh as much as the next guy, but there’s nothing funny about the commercial. It’s highly offensive…and this is coming from someone who doesn’t offend easily. Wake the fuck up people, ignorance is not cute.

31. Fronzy

He’s adorable, lighten up! He looks like he’s having fun. He’s got a great body and my whole family runs to the t.v. when he comes on.

32. summer

the guy is adorable and has a great body but he still looks like an idiot and I find the commercial so offensive I wrote to the corporate headquarters of K-Mart about the ad
when and if I receive an answer I’ll post it here

33. hayley

what is the big deal people? everyone is saying that the person who downloaded the commercial had no life. what about all you who are on here getting all upset about A COMMERCIAL! dear god! do you have nothing else to whine about? it’s just a commercial. it’s supposed to make you smile. it made me smile. i think that guy is cute. and i came online to find out who he is and i came upon this site with all you people whining about ignorance and how it’s upsetting. give me a break! i am 16 and even i know how immature and ridiculous that is! find something else to complain about other than a kmart commercial with a guy being happy!

This thread is exactly why some folks are frustrated with the commercial.

We are dealing with imagery here. This isn’t a movie where we understand the character’s motivations. This isn’t even a commercial where we understand his motivations.

He doesn’t say “I love my Joe Boxers” he doesn’t even get to talk. He is simply in a room dancing. A grown man delighting in his underwear. A grown black man. What do we take from this? What do we infer? What do others infer?

Especially when you juxtapose it with the other Joe Boxer commercials…every other Joe Boxer/K-Mart ad in which the white actors talk. And don’t dance.

There’s a problem there. And the responses to lighten up “He’s cute and happy” just further my frustration. Is this selling you on the boxers? And if its not, then what is it really selling?

Jason beat me to the punch…

I am the owner of this site, and writer of the original post. I wrote this post because it was my initial reaction to the commercial - I didn’t sit around trying to “read into” anything. I am not easily offended but I felt cultural and historical lessons have taught us that black folk jumping up and down for a (mainly) white audience is insulting; I still feel this way. Am I going to organize a boycott? No. I just wanted to point out another example of subtle stereotyping in advertising to those who may have overlooked it. Either you get it or you don’t. But I sure as hell will voice my opinion on my own site and I scoff at those who attempt to invalidate my feelings.

I started to take this page down but decided to allow people to voice their opinion since it seems to be a popular topic. Also, I was interested in hearing intelligent opinions on both sides. Unfortunately, those who like the commercial have only been able to list “He’s cute”, “He’s happy” and “I run to the TV when it comes on” as reasons why it is not offensive. The fact that you enjoy it doesn’t mean it’s not offensive. And the fact that this is “just a commercial” does not address any of the issues presented.

If you disagree with me, fine. Just tell me why and try to base it with some logic, please. At some point I will deactivate this page - seeing as nothing enlightening is maturing from this experiment. Until then, enjoy.

36. hayley

jason and j. brotherlove FINALLY explained what was so offensive about it. i understand where everyone is coming. but think about this- people see what they want to see. if you want to see a racism or stereotypical issue in the commercial. you will. whether it is there or not. but it goes both ways. i choose to see that it is there purely for people to smile at a nice looking man doing goofy dances in his underwear. if we read so unbelievably far into every single commerical, billboard ad, slogan etc. we will spend the rest of our lives being upset at someone for something. no one knows what the commercial’s intentions really were. we can only assume. and as we all know from that famous quote, “assumptions make an ass out of you”. if you really want to get to the truth of it, find out from the people who made the commercial. but if you don’t care to hear the truth and would rather believe what you want to believe, make up excuses why that is impossible to talk to those people and continue to be mad or something that can easily be avoided.

Well, I like the commercial, and “he’s cute” and “he’s happy” weren’t exactly my reasons for liking it. I liked the commercial because it managed to capture a private moment that not a lot of people would own up to: flexing, dancing, and admiring one’s own reflection in the mirror in the privacy of our own bedrooms. It was a voyeuristic moment, but innocently so; when I see it, I imagine how it might feel to be the brother’s significant other and witnessing such a private moment of joy and exuberance.

I am not ignorant of the history. I am not ignorant of the ways that representations of people of colour in general and African Americans in particular have worked to further stereotypes in American society. I will own up to ignorance of the other spots where the other actors have lines. Since I haven’t seen them, I won’t address the images they convey. Still, who talks to him or herself as they’re dancing in front of their mirror in their skivvies?

I am really struggling to understand why people are having such a visceral reaction to this advertisement. Without invoking history and prior representations, I’m interested in hearing personal testimonies. I can read Marlon Riggs, Kobena Mercer, Isaac Julien, et. al if I want to cuddle up with the theory divas and culture queens. I want to know why this hits home for you and why this ad makes you feel shame/anger/disgust. (You meaning those who are upset by the commercial)

Sorry to beat a seemingly dead horse, but I thought I heard a whinny or two.

38. Ross

i would be the gay white guy who saw it and smiled, thought it was really cute, and didnt give it a second thought until now. i see where all the pain is coming from, but i saw it through a completely different filter. i’m in love when i see a guy goofily, joyfully express himself. i know, i know, its a commercial…but, you know what i mean? as far as my own racial take, i’m just happy to see a black man portrayed as something other than the typical crap thats all over the media. but you know, i can see how to someone it can be seen as all steppin-fetchit. i just saw it as beautiful spirit.

39. wil

methinks the dancing brother is fine and much more fun than the apparently dour j. brotherlove—the dancing brother makes me smile and happy to be alive. kudos to all admonishing “lighten up.”

40. wil

by the way, nothing is going on with the “marketing buffoons” at Joe Boxer—the marketing folks at KMart came up with the Dancing Underwear Man advertising campaign.

41. Tracy

I think that that guy is really hot and it makes my day to see him dancing in his boxer underwear. Keep it coming…

42. faith

Obviously you guys are just jealous. That guy has got it goin going on. He has a great smile, not to mention the way he fills out his boxers!

Late but want to add my 2 cents. I didn’t read everything everybody wrote. I can see how some people would see the “porch monkey” thing.

My take- I watched him dance and smiled. He is so damn sexy! He has a gorgeous smile. I felt like Cecily. I was peeking at a private moment. I love the commercial!

“obviously you guys are just jealous”

Ok…you’ve all succeeded. My head just exploded.

When cultural criticism can be boiled down to elementary school retorts, obviously the discussion is over.

I’m going to undress to my boxers and watch reruns of The Cosby Show right now.

And do pushups and practice smiling.

and douse myself with bleach so that I can lighten up…

it worked for Michael Jackson.

Well, for 20 years or so. Now he’s going after ‘the man’

but I won’t think about that…I’m lightening up.

Why is it burning? It stings, it stings…

That is the best response to “lighten up” that I have ever EVER heard. I think you captured the (perhaps unconscious, perhaps not) sentiment behind that phrase perfectly.

It so totally pisses me off to hear people respond to someone’s very real anger and/or pain and/or discomfort by saying “lighten up.” WTF is up with that? Seriously. I wanna know.

46. Phyllis

Sorry, guys, love it…. can’t find the time to put an “evil” spin on this one…

Don’t you love how the universe unfolds? Ask a question and an answer will be provided.

I haven’t seen the commercial, since I go TV free during the summer months. However, I recently read a book that contained cultural inaccuracies (specifically, the Australian Aborigines in Marlo Martin’s “Mutant Message Down Under”). I knew that there was backlash against the book, but not the extent, and was really caught off guard by how offended people were. I aksed the question on my blog, is the message more or less important than the story being told? Still working on that one, but it seems to me, in telling a story, one must be careful about how one is reflecting a culture, a bias, a stereotype.

This has been an incredibly enlightening read for me.

And I would ask the women who AREN’T offended by this kind of commercial how they feel about the overwhelming negative imagery in commercials and movies about women? They are out there, they are offensive, and further, they are dangerous. This is no different Oh, and frankly, telling someone that their very real and righteous anger to “lighten up” is as invalidating and offensive as the commercial.

Punctuation and grammar errors abound. My apologies. Lack of coffee.

Exactly. How can you look at the fact that there are obviously many people who find offense to this commercial and make a comment as juvenile as “you’re just jealous”, or as uneducated and insulting as “lighten up”? I’m a female…I have no reason to be jealous of a bald man dancing in his underwear. I feel that the complaints about this commercial are very valid. If you weren’t so naive about the issue, even if you didn’t feel the same way we did, you probably wouldn’t say “lighten up” because you would understand why people are expressing the opinions that they are. Do you think we all got together and said; let’s make a mutual decision that this commercial is offensive to blacks? No…these are the opinions of several educated individuals. You guys are saying nothing relevant. “He’s cute and he makes me laugh” Who gives a fuck? Yeah…he’s cute, but that doesn’t have shit to do with the fact that the commercial is the result of careless advertising. In my opinion that’s really what the problem is.

And as for Miss “i am 16 and even i know how immature and ridiculous that is!” we understand that it’s a commercial. That’s why you see us using the word “commercial”. Why are you getting upset about the fact that people have opinions? Last time I checked, this wasn’t your site and therefore you weren’t forced you to read the opinions expressed on it. If you think expressing them is a waste of time then shut the fuck up and keep on moving.

50. wil

A previous writer should understand that website does not belong to her, either.

Could it be that this same previous writer is “naive” about the advertizing business. By its nature, advertizing is not “careless”—nothing is left to chance. Advertizing/commercial campaigns are very well thought out and crafted; they are well calculated to garner as much attention as possible and, subsequently, generate mega bucks. The business of advertizing provides a great number of people, including men who dance in their underwear, with employment and paychecks. And money is a hell of a lot more helpful to people than whining and bitching.

Looking for black men dancing in their underwear under beds, as the same previous writer seems hellbent on doing, reminds me of those belonging to another generation who sought Communists under every bed.

51. wil

My apology for having misspelled the word “advertising.”

Hellbent should have been hell-bent.

(Hi. Here’s my contribution, such as it is. Also posted as comments at

OK, Communications Studies majors, we got your next term paper.

What’s going on in this thing? Retro modern apartment. Very upscale. Very chic. And, a young Black man being silly, and goofing off in his underpants. Riding the dance club, Austin Powers wave a bit.

Intrisically, Mr. Vaughn’s goofyness is infectious. He seems to be getting the Rising Star treatment, especially from K-mart and daytime TV. This means boyfriend will probably get a few gigs, and maybe some cash, and more modeling jobs as a result. So, personally, he’s probably pretty happy.

However, he’s breaking some rules, here. First, men are not supposed to act goofy. (OK, we’ll let Robin Williams get away with it, but don’t push it.) Goofyness, and big smiles, and acting childlike are behaviors reserved either for children (dependants, people under others’ control) or for the servants (jesters, inferiors, the Darkies dancing). And big smiles are what Women (and Gay men) do. So, if this guy’s just goofing off, he can’t be a strong individual in control of his own life, right, because REAL MEN DON’T DANCE. Or smile, either.

Also, Vaughn is dancing in surroundings that speak of security, and intellect (he’s hip and he’s got cash). Even if it’s only a set, it’s still a no-no. If the Black Man’s gonna dance, the old Rule says, he has to do so in circumstances that reassure the White Folks (i.e. on a stage the White Folks own, or on the edge of the White Man’s cotton field, etc.)

I think we have something a bit revolutionary going on here. Yes, it’s touchy, but it’s touchy for all the right reasons. This image is pushing the classic masculinity definition, certainly. (Although, even if he’s not, Vaughn will probably be assumed to be Gay, which will push the idea of Happy Dancing safely back into the Other World so that the myth of ubiquitious straight male rocky stoicism continues without interruption. Have fun with the next heart attack, White Guys.)

Also, This particular Black Man (in the mythology of the commercial) is dancing for himself, just for the hell of it, because it’s part of his personality. And, if at some level he is somehow embracing his inner Steppin Fetchit, it is from a position of his own power, security, choice and celebration, not as a compulsive “everything’s OK, boss” grinning ritual lie from the past. And, yes, there are people who may use the goofy Black guy as a reactionary racist image, but to do so, they need to ignore the rest of this image — that’s he’s dancing in his house, in safety and culture and education, under his terms.

A world where goofy dancing, or smiling for that matter, is forever off limits to Black Men because it used to be part of an obsolete submission ritual means Black Men never get a life beyond that war. “I won’t dance. You can’t force me to. (Even if I want to.)” Yes, dignity and rage and stoicism are necessary to everyone’s struggles, but it’s the goofy dancing that makes all that easier to live with.

53. Matt

Why does a friggen k-mart commercial create such a controversy. Seriously, this is not a racist commercial or an offense to anybody, and it does not mean that because one man decides to dance a little, he’s gay. I think you are all thinking too much into this advertisement. It is a guy in boxers, advertising for a boxer commercial. That is it. So sit back and be happpy as he obviously is and deal with the fact that that there is a black man simply dancing in boxers to advertise for boxers. There is no hidden agenda here.

54. biatch

I think you all need to lighten the hell up. Its just an austin powers spin off type add. The music the dance the “hip” sixties style background. and why cant a black man dance around in his underwear and just be silly. this has nothing to do with racism. everyone who buys joe boxer initially has bought it for the little smiley face and i think this guy does a great job of making people smile on this commericial. when that commericial comes on…i jump up and dance with him :-P

55. Sista

A Brothers got to eat!

i like Kell’s take on things. interesting, and very well thought out.

amazed and very frustrated that people are still saying ‘lighten up’. so condescending, trivializing the feelings and reactions of others. so wrong.

57. ronn

OK, I like the commercial; don’t see anything nefarious about it. But some of y’all mofo’s done took it too far. I can understand how some may take offense to it and think it’s inappropriate. To belittle their real pain is sickening and beyond insensitive.

58. Crispus

All I could do was shake my head. As a black man, it pissed me off. Did that “brotha” need money that badly that he would agree to belittle himself like that? Dancin around smilin, boppin like a bunny rabbit. Or, you could say grinnin’, yassa bossin’, or shuckin’ and jivin’. I started to ask one of my boys about that commercial and before I could finish saying Joe Boxer, he was like “I hate that f$%king commercial.” I saw a teaser for some morning news segment last night that is actually gonna be interviewing this fool about the popularity of his commercial. Bet he’s puttin’ vaseline on his teeth right now!

As a black advertising professional, it reminded me of how homogeneous the ad industry is, left with few decision makers who are of ethnicity. I don’t know if Joe Boxer has minorities in its brand management group, but I could take a wild guess. Any commercial that creates such instant distaste among a select demographic, definitely has some sensitivity issues.

59. JDo

I was looking for information about this commercial online because I think it is one of the best commercials to come out in a long while. Vaughn portrays Joe Boxer as fun and playful - which is just what the company has always been known for. I would never presume to tell people how to feel, but I personally don’t understand how anyone can find offense with this. I am a white woman and I never even considered any racial undertones in the commercial. To me, it is simply a man having fun in his skivvies. It makes me smile.

But for those who take offense, know that it was a black man who came up with this idea of a black man dancing around like a fool. According to Vaughn himself, and also mentioned in a Joe Boxer press release - Vaughn was dancing around like this at the audition (for the other Joe Boxer ads) and the agency found it so fun and amusing that they created a whole other commercial just to highlight it. So essentially, it was Vaughn himself who came up with this idea.

60. Sista's Sista

If it were a white dude we wouldn’t be having this conversation! Why does EVERYTHING have to have some “hidden evil” to it? Jeez, what do you think that Joe Boxer or Kmart wanted to offend the black community, come on now! Money is money, Kmart doesn’t care what color the the people are who shop there as long as there money is GREEN. Get over it!

61. shaye

Well, thank you very much Miss K’Mart Spokesperson. Anyway, Kell made some very interesting points. Thank you. PLEASE for the love of GOD I wish some of you would read the other responses before posting the same “lighten up” and “get over it” bullshit. Nobody said EVERYTHING had to have some “hidden evil” I thought we were talking about one comercial not “EVERYTHING” that’s ever been run on TV. It’s not a controversy it’s just a discussion. Personally I do find the commercial offensive. I’m a WHITE woman for those who have suddenly got it into their minds that someone is trying to start a color war. I was actually a little embarrased watching the Joe Boxer ad. I did find the man attractive, but his behavior didn’t make me smile, it left me kind of puzzled. And just because a black person created the commercial doesn’t make it any less offensive. Yes, if he was white, people probably wouldn’t be making as big a deal about it, but since when have you seen a bald white man dancing like a complete idiot in a commercial and not saying a single word?

62. Di

Shame! Shame! Shame! How easily we forget!

63. DrB

“I am not easily offended but I felt cultural and historical lessons have taught us that black folk jumping up and down for a (mainly) white audience is insulting; “

Do you feel the same about any black entertainers making money off of white audiences? Eddie Murphy was made rich & famous making a fool of himself for ‘mainly’ white people. I don’t think he’s complaining. Basketball players jump up and down for ‘mainly’ white folks. This guy should feel empowered that he can so easily make so much money for doing this. He’s already showing up on talk shows. It might just make him famous.

64. Crispus

If you can’t see the parallel between this commercial and “Sambo-esque” blacksploitation of the past, you’re either naive or ignorant of the subject alltogether.

Yes, Vaughn may be the black man that gave life to the idea from his audition antics. However, Vaughn is just another actor trying to get paid and get over, nothing more. Do you really think the agency gave this guy creative license to direct how the commercial would be? So I guess it’s safe to say that any antics he performed that day would have given life to a commercial if the creative directors saw them as “fun and amusing”? Let’s say he was eating watermelon and chicken wings in his boxers. If the creative directors saw that as “fun and amusing” would they have produced and aired a spot with that creative direction too?

The issue at hand is the blatant lack of cultural sensitivity on the part of Joe Boxer and the agency that created the spot. The idea MAY have originated from the actor, but the problem is that the industry’s lack of diversity fosters environments where ideas like this make it to air without any thought as to how offensive it might be to a large population of some consumers.

For those who say that this isn’t split solely among blacks/whites, I say you’re correct. You have to add sex into the mix too. How many black males do you know that said they liked the commercial? That many, huh?

65. mo

You’ve been bamboozled.

That’s what this whole discussion has made me think….. One thing I got from that excellent movie is that you have to know your history lest you find a ManTan show on your tv set. Just because some people aren’t offended doesn’t mean that the historical and cultural implications don’t exist…. no matter what the director or actor may have wanted it to portray, I just see it as a black guy “coonin’ it up.” I have to acknowledge the history that has brought us to this point.

Who cares if he’s in his bedroom, dancing privately, cute, funny or whatever — the history remains, and I think the sad thing is that many people don’t instantly recognize it, or if they do admit to understanding others’ disgust, are so quick to brush it aside. Why should we brush it aside? Why are people so quick to ignore the implications of this commercial? I am ashamed to know that it is deemed cute and acceptable by the public.

I don’t feel like this commercial can be seen as something purely innocent, and I am saddened by the lack of understanding about this, for me, personal and loaded topic. Anything that hearkens back to the minstrelsy era just sickens me, intended or not. My question is, why isn’t it glaringly obvious to everyone?

66. DJ

This commercial makes me want to run, not walk to the nearest K Mart store and buy Joe Boxer Briefs! Great Music! Great Model! Great Ad! You Go Kmart!!

Some random thoughts, questions and observations:

The response to this commercial from a good number of black men reminds me a lot of the response of (white?) women to beauty pageants (and porn, and advertising). Speaking of vaseline… So,

Where does being entertaining or conventionally, predictably attractive leave off and being submissive, inferior, dehumanized begin?

Is one problem with the commercial that it is too intimate? That there’s a vulnerability to that little goofy dance that should be reserved only for a trusted few? (Speaking of women and porn…)

68. wil

Mo asks: ” … Why isn’t it glaringly obvious to everyone?”

One answer might be that most others have taken Paxil and, subsequently, aren’t as obsessed about it.

69. biatch

tell me what should a black man portray in the media? we all know and see only a few versions…..we all hate most what is portray’d……but why should you x this one? did this offend u so much…

70. sista

I got cha back, biatch!!

Congratulations “wil”, I think that was the dumbest post I’ve read yet.

In my opinion, besides the fact that everyone looks at things from a different prospective, I think that when you don’t have to deal with certain issues on a regular basis, you’re less likely be as aware of them because they’re not significant to your personal experience. Also, as someone else said before, those who found the actor attractive were less likely to be offended by the ad. It wasn’t really obvious to me when I first saw the commercial…I just knew that it made me uncomfortable and I was actually embarrassed watching it. I love to laugh myself, so I had to ask myself why it made me so uncomfortable.

I think Kell made an interesting point about the “intimacy” of the commercial. As far as the reaction of women to beauty pageants, etc, I think it’s quite relevant. It’s not so much a racial thing as it is people expressing dismay at how certain images are represented (exploited?) in the media. I can understand why some people don’t see anything wrong with it…I’m certainly not insinuating that people are idiots for liking it…I just think that the concerns about it are very valid.

72. Maximillian


Haters back off. Why can’t a Black man be happy anymore?

Fact is, he’s gonna sell a lot of drawers and that’s his job. Every brotha on TV doesn’t have to be a miserable drug selling/doing, pimp, convict, or angry whatever to be real. When Austin Powers, Jim Carrey, or Steve Martin does this same thing and it’s just funny — no social statement required.

I’d have done it if they asked. Not hard to look happy when you getting paid — most of us do this at various levels everyday anyhow.

Let’s hope Kmart does a Joe Boxer Black dancer remix featuring one fine happy sista next!


73. keisha

“I got cha back”? Wow. Calm down ladies, this is a discussion not a tag team wrestling match.

And actually that’s not true “biatch” the portrayals of black men in the media has actually diversified in the past years. I think this one incited such a negative response because it’s so blatant.

I’m not “hating” (the most overused word in America right now) on Vaughn. I don’t know Vaughn. I do know that the commercial makes me uncomfortable. Am I supposed to ignore my instincts and smile and say “Oh, it’s just a happy dancing black man?” I can’t ignore it. And if that makes me “SUCK” then so be it LOL…I’ll be a conscious mothersucker

74. lamenexploited

u choice to deal with “your issues” and u should think or maybe consider the possibility that this commercial dont apply to anything negative to you or ur perspective or ur game……or a race… or color…..u need to be in a government office….so u can fuck with people and our minds n play games that most do to keep us fighting against each otha

75. jayne

personally I don’t see anyone fighting. I see people expressing concerns that do make sense, whether you agree with them or not. There’s nothing wrong with that….

76. biatch

we paralyze with our beliefs ……and if this is our nature then we r fucked……a man dancing in his underwear is NOT a negative thing…..nor is it in any way racist … just a yummy hunk havin fun……still dancin with him

What I don’t understand are these juvenile remarks. Why can’t people stay on topic and stop these insipid personal attacks? Any day now… shut down… I swear, “page o’ penis” as Jason suggested.

78. Crispus

I agree to your point that his job was to encourage the sale of “drawers”. However, comparing the commentary on Vaughn’s performance to the lack of social statements regarding a white comedian’s work (like Jim Carrey or Steve Martin) makes absoulutely no sense. They control the product of their work. This dude didn’t. And better yet, they actually get to speak. Funny that the commercial is the only one in the campaign where someone’s dancing around the screen, by himself, without uttering a word? Funny that he’s the darkest member of the campaign doing those things. Hmm, dark face, bright ass smile, dancin’ like a fool…sure reminds me of something. With all of the “get over it” comments above, it obviously hasn’t reminded us all.

79. wil

Thanks for the “congratulations,” Toni.

Forgive me J. Brotherlove, but with regard to “juvenile remarks,” isn’t it juvenile to threaten to shut down the site because the correspondents aren’t responding as preconceived? Isn’t packing up the marbles and then running home a child’s solution?

I, like Jayne, “see people expressing concerns”; so, in spite of the rancor, let that expression continue. I feel certain you know as well as I that learning does not take place in a vacuum.

80. mo

So….. it doesn’t matter what you’re doin’ as long as you’re gettin’ paid?

That’s pretty sorry.

J. Brotherlove, close it down! I see no learning here, just a love of fine ass and ignorance in the face of racist history.

There are 80 comments in this thread.

In the past month, regular readers of this site and others discussing this commercial have written posts on reparations, art, culture, racial identity, sexual identity, politics, government, relationships, love, sex, laughter, joy, and pain.

And this is the largest commented on thread.

What’s frustrating here is that there are a whole bunch of you that are only coming here for this conversation. A conversation that we had talked and finished talking about a month ago. Yet you feel its your right to co-opt the conversation and tell dedicated readers of this place, as well as the owner of the site, how to proceed.

J. might be too nice to say it…i’m not. You’re fucking tourists.

Have you even gone through any of the rest of this site? Have you felt as strongly about any of the other myriad of issues that J. talks about and deals with and presents his perspective on? Or is Joe Boxer the most important issue in your lives?



The mind. It boggles.

J. bring out the gay p0rn. I’ll even watch Queer as Folk U.S. with ya if you want. And you know how I feel about that one.

Go out and run your own personal site. Pay your own money to host it. Then you’ll be better able to judge what’s “unfair or juvenile”. This is J’s forum to do with as he pleases. It’s not a democracy.

Find a public forum to sling your mud
Run off to or alt.intolerant.and.proud or

Bring on the bootie J. It’s time.

There are few contributions to the discussion here and most add up to “he’s cute and made me laugh” and “racism is in your mind - it would just ‘go away’ if only ‘you people’ would stop complaining about it or looking for it ‘Lighten Up, Dude’”. A huge amount of racist imagery has been used to sell products. Aunt Jemimia and Uncle Ben’s still exist today - understand the history and how it relates to the topic at hand.

83. Bett59

Oh, puh-lease. Vaughn, the dancing actor, tried out with about 400 other hopefuls, and the ad agency loved him. This was not a casting call for blacks only; the ad agency loved him because he was terrific. And another thing: you all are the ones with the problem if that is the first thing that comes to your mind. I can’t imagine anything more depressing than listening to some people deliver diatribes about the social/political implications of a black man dancing in his underwear. You must be the same types who would dress down a waitress with a lecture about racism if she dared to include fried okra as a side to your lunch, until she burst into tears, stuttering out an explanation that it was merely the chef’s choice for the side.

Get a life.

84. Baba O'Reilly

Lighten up, Francis. Knee-jerkism is no substitute for joie de vivre.

Vaughn’s got it.

You, obviously, ain’t.

85. ab

bwahahahahhahahah! Pullin the race card on this commercial is unwarranted and pathetic.

you people get out much?

86. JT

Well, it seems the add worked based on the number of post here. Kmart has sold over $2million in Joe boxers a week since the add ran. As for all those who think of racism when you see this, Get a life!! I am african-american and see nothing wrong with it but a man being goofy and happy. Thats what advertising is about.


87. Dragon

I guess some of you people of the darker race think they held a gun to this guys head and made him dance around like this. Look at his face . The dude is having a blast doing this and making a load of money. Get your heads out of the past people. The ones griping about this add are the type that will continue to keep the stereotypes alive. Grow up. I laughed my butt of when I saw the add and thought ” wow I wish I could be as at ease with myself to dance like that in front of the world. And I am white!

88. Sweetpeas

Oh how silly. If a cute black guy or white guy or purple guy wants to dance happily in his boxers, what harm?
He doesn’t think it’s a “stereotype” obviously, and being the race in question, he should know.
O lighten up, this is ridiculous. Let’s all grow up and past this nonsense. Small planet, guys.

First of all, it’s just like any thing else on TV if you do not like it turn it off. And second, if the commercial is about boxers how else is supposed to wear them on the outside of a pair of Kmart Jeans? Third, do something else with better with your time like helping to find Bid Laden and/or Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!

90. Bailey

The first thing that went through my mind when I saw the commercial was, it’s about time they show a good looking man in his undies instead of a woman. Would I have enjoyed it as much if the guy was white? Only is he was just as yummy! Please let go of the black/white issue, particularly in instances when it does not exist (like this.)

91. Poe

Who gives a s#%* about a stupid commercial? I don’t like so I don’t watch it. I wear briefs. If there are people still around today, or around you, who think that commercial is us, check them or yourself. Quit hatin’…

92. LoveThatGuy!

If you people were as INFORMED as you think you are, you would know that niether Joe Boxer, NOR Kmart asked this guy to do this! He went and auditioned for this commercial, and came up with this dance all by himself! IT WAS ALL HIS IDEA!! I happen to LOVE it! He’s all that AND a bag-o-chips!!!! I wish my man would dance around in his undies like that! There’s nothing sexier than a happy go lucky man in a pair of undies dancin like a fool!!! All you people that cry racism are racists yourselves!!!

93. shibatori

That ad is so bad that I will under no conditions purchase Joe Boxer underwear until they discontinue it.

94. Logan Steelhorse

Well when I first saw it, I had to take a cronic break. I couldn’t believe my eyes were violated but after seening it a few more times, it wasn’t so offending. It kind of grows on you like the Jappanese web video named “YATTA”, being Japan’s answer to boybands. All in all the man got paid to act like an idiot, kind of like the people in D.C. :)

95. Bailey

The first thing that went through my mind when I saw the commercial was, it’s about time they show a good looking man in his undies instead of a woman. Would I have enjoyed it as much if the guy was white? Only is he was just as yummy! Please let go of the black/white issue, particularly in instances when it does not exist (like this.)

96. Magicker71

HAHAHAHA… this is just unbelievable. I’m really in awe at the things people will get mad about. I’ve seen the commericals for a few weeks now and it never even crossed my mind that someone would get draw comparisons to racial stereotypes of 70 years ago.

Crispus… man, you gotta get a grip here. Watch the commerical again, real close, and forget about your current racist views and actually watch the commericial.

There’s a guy. He’s in his underwear. He’s dancing and having fun. He’s black. SO FREAKING WHAT? Why does this have to be racist? What?? Black men can’t dance without it being some sort of white man’s conspiracy? That guy could have been white and the commerical would have been exactly the same. Would anyone have a problem with it then?

This is exactly what keeps racism alive today… knee-jerk reactions to things that you are so clearly wrong about. You’re the racist here Crispus, not the rest of us.

97. Logan Steelhorse

Then again wouldn’t it be funnier if it was George W. Bush dancing around. It would be more believable for him to do something like that than a grown black man doing so. Unless the guy just smoked some sheetrock with lead paint in it.

98. Get a Life

You guys who hate this commercial NEED TO GET A LIFE. Its a damn commercial. If you dont want to go buy them dont. just because you dont have a sense of humor does not mean they should change the comercial.

99. Special T

Toni - Talk about needing to lighten up! Get the chip off your shoulder. You might be female but, you still may be jealous. If you were a guy, you still wouldn’t look that good.

Everyone click on Toni’s name and see what comes up. HMMMMMMMMM!

100. Joe

Get a Life!

101. Logan Steelhorse

It would have been more realistic and funnier if the boxers were soild and stained. You know color coded,yellow in the front,brown in the back.

102. Marcus

When I saw the ad, I was blown away. I am a little older than most and remember when no advertiser would dream of putting a black man in a brief ad.

It is hot, funny, and sexy. I wish black folk would stop looking at themselves through the eyes of white people. I didn’t think about what white people thought when they saw the ad and am still not really concerned.

Truth: There is probably a whole group of women (and men) who would not mind jumping in the tube and tickling the shorts off of home-boy. White and black alike. That may be objectification, but hey, wake up, it is an ad…. And I am not offended but the thought that a black man can be seen as cute and sexy and maybe a little goofy…

103. justme

I hope that all of you are aware that the man in that video WANTED to dance that way. No one forced him to do so. It is not like they only auditioned black men! They simply thought he was the best. I think it is a cute commercial, it makes people smile. Isn’t that the point of advertising, to get your attention? Sure, it really has no point, but I don’t think the creators were trying to offend anyone and probably had no idea this would happen. Some of you say “how can you just say he is a black man looking silly”….what else are you trying to say he is! And what is so wrong with acting silly?

104. Willoughby

Anyone who has negative things to say about a 15 second commercial about a guy dancing in his boxers, I have only one thing to say to you. WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE! You people kill mewith all this racial junk! Those of you making this into a racial thing are the exactly the people who are responsible for perpetuating and supporting the whole black/white dichotomy. Its 2002, didn’t 9/11 teach you guys anything? Its not about black or white, or red or yelow or what! Its about one guy who auditioned for an add because he is trying to make a living. Did they tell him to dance like that!? Probably not. If it was anyone else, would you say the same thing?! Probably not. For the love of God Almighty, spend your efforts on improving your outlook on life, instead of trying to start something from mothing. Full support for the “mythreesista’s”!

105. Marie

It’s a great commercial. Why does everything have to be “ripped apart” for some hidden meaning. I saw nothing significant about him being black, white,yellow, or otherwise. If they had cast a white man in the commerical doing the same thing, and it was successful, the people who hate the commercial would be complaining because it was a white man cast and not a black man. Just enjoy the commercial! There are too many other things in life to get worked up about.

106. a_woman

i think you are all OVER REACTING! i think the commercial is fun!! i feel it depicts the average joe (hence, joe boxers) all alone in is apartment being goofy, no matter what race, creed, etc. it’s something everyone does behind closed doors when they are HAPPY! I believe the only criteria for the actor would be that he needs to look HOT in boxer-briefs, not be a black man. think about it

and Logan…no one wants to see George W. Bush dancing around in his boxers!

107. VetteG

Look people, how can we get past negative stereotypes if all we want to see in something or someone is the negative. The commercial is a “goofy” guy, dancing to a “goofy” sounding song in his boxers. Big deal!!!!!!! A friend of mine put it best when he said “We as a minority race are a harm and hinderance to ourselves.” Be thankful that it’s a Black man with a job instead of out getting high, gang banging, killing or in jail. Get past the negative and focus on the positive!!!!!

108. Wolvie22

The actor decided to pitch the goofy dance to Kmart when he was auditioning. This in no way was supposed to be a reflection of a cultural stereotype, it’s an honest view of how some guys will just get silly suddenly for no good or apparent reason. Am I the only guy in the world who is sitting down reading a textbook for a Computer certification when sudenly my fiancee walks past and I get an urge to jump up, pull her shirt up and give her a furbel. It’s about that urge to be goofy, and all they’re saying is be goofy in our boxers. That’s it. No deep meaning, no stereotypes. Live and be goofy.

109. Geoff

I’m white, straight, married, 33.

The message I’m gettin in this forum is that it is racist to portray black men who are appearing foolish. I don’t get that. I see white men being protrayed as foolish, evil, stupid, murderous, etc… every day, and I accept it because it’s true. There are white men who are fools, are evil, are stupid, are murderous, are good, are humble, all of it, and I assume that there are black men who fit these categories as well. What’s wrong with showing that once in a while ? Is it the history, or is it something else that I’m missing ? What I seem to be getting is that only white men are allowed to be portrayed as the fools in this society.

110. stopthemadness

Why when some people see a commercial, they automatically disect it looking for any aspect that could be considered racist? This commercial is hysterical! Let a little levity into your lives, it may do your outlook on life some good! This is just pure fun, haven’t any of you ever been silly and let loose by yourselves or with friends?

How is this commericial degrading to blacks? Why because a black man in a commercial happens to be dancing silly is this a mark against the black race? I don’t see him as a BLACK MAN, I see him as a MAN! Stop looking for racism!

By the way, could someone spell out for me where this a degrading to blacks, racist, or in anyway has negative historical connotations? Call me naive.

111. Alias1

I only read about half of the above rants and rebuttals so perhaps that makes me less qualified to comment, but here’s my point. Someone said that they sent their complaint to KMart Execs. Every one is slating Joe Boxer. Why not bitch to Vaughn Lawry at, after all, he’s the one who supposedly invented the dance, he’s the one who auditioned for the part (using that dance). Joe Boxer and Kmart didn’t MAKE him do anything, he is a brother looking for a job and he exploited one of his (I’m sure) many talents, which is to make people smile. I’m a white man and found the spot goofy and fun. The fact that he happened to be black never occured to me as a judgement of the ad. He’s just a guy being goofy, the same way I have before and so have most of you. In advertising, one of your goals should be to identify with your audience, and whether you want to admit it or not, they did.

112. bette

i find this discussion fascinating. it proves, once again, that there are as many view points as people to have them, and that so much of how you interpret things depends on your personal history.
i believe that the makers of the commercial did not intend to make a racial slur. i think that it is safe to assume that, for the most part, advertisers do not want to alienate an important part of their market. and you can never tell what an idea will mean to every individual that sees it.

i am sorry that people were offended by the commercial. there’s enough for us to put up with without being offended anytime we turn on the television. but i do believe that at some point we have to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assume that people are at every moment trying to insult or degrade us as humans, whatever race, gender, religion, etc. we are.

i agree with an earlier post that it is important to notice the background in the commercial, which shows an affluent person’s home. it is important to see that he looks genuinely happy, no matter how stupid that grin is on his face. i think that we should see more images of happy people, maybe it will remind us to try to enjoy our lives and to not let other peoples ignorance or insults (especially if they are unintentional) bring us down.

113. Monkey

I hate to say this, I was offended, but mainly because I didn’t plan to turn on the TV and see a half naked man dancing around like a fool. I like it because he is just goofing around. The problem with this kind of advertising is that people are always goingto get offended some how. It is the way that I don’t like the women strutting around half naked for victoria’s Secret commercials. I don’t see racism in this ad, but I can see where it would be found. I can say that I understand, I don’t agree with everyone about it, it has grown on me and now I can say I find it humerous. Your perception speaks of were you are at in life and how you feel about your own injustices at this time, give yourself a couple years of understanding, and this might be humerous. I don’t like the female ads, and many of you don’t like this ad, does that mean that either of us are wrong? I hope everyone can relax a little, women still get paid for sex, and He got paid to dance around half naked, that’s life.

114. just another person

I think it is necessary that some of us here take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at the whole picture before we type again….some of you are spending too much time typing your views in all capital letters and not enough time reading other people’s posts.

My personal fights with racism have thankfully been few and far between, and being one who could easily be mistaken for a Hispanic or an Arabic person, I’m sure my experiences were quite different than the average black male’s. Still, I do know history, and I can see how this commercial could possibly upset people. I see how it could be taken as a throwback to the days we all wish had been different.
But the value and meaning of that commercial is in the eyes of the beholders. Yes, it is necessary to know the past and understand racial stereotypes when we see them, but it also necessary to be able to tell the difference between the portrayal of a stereotype and the portrayal of a real human being. If we, as people who know our past, had seen nothing but a happy man dancing in the security of his home, then there would have been nothing else to that commercial. It would have ended there. In effect, the stereotype would have died, allowing anyone and everyone, regardless of race, to connect with that man or feel inspired to dance along with him. A stereotype does not have to live forever.

We are the ones who deal racisim into the game. We are the ones who decide when something is a stereotype. We should not allow ourselves to be confined to certain roles or attitutes because we want to dispell a stereotype. We should feel free to step in any direction and take any role that comes our way. We shoud feel free to publically demonstate the full range of the human experience, whether childish glee or elderly wisdom, becuase we are all people. Black, white, yellow, or brown, we all feel, at some point,the kind of happiness that was expressed in that commercial. By stating that it inappropriate for a black man to feel that way on television, you are doing nothing but placing yourself in a cage and reviving a dying stereotype.

115. ladybug

Alright, I’m going to take a neutral stance on this one (although I will say that it did make me feel uncomfortable - not necessarily for the “obvious” reasons though - he reminded me of my EX boyfriend) Anyway, I just want to say that I read each and every comment on this ad, but the one thing that seems to be forgotten (whether pro/con)is that we have a “little” thing called the 1st Amendment FREEDOM OF SPEECH. With that, just let me add “opinions are like assholes - we all have one.” Let’s put our collective, intelligent minds together and figure out how we can wipe out homelessnes, AIDS, child abuse,the Martha Stewarts of the world - hey isn’t she w/KMart? should I go on? I COULD!!!