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Burger Queen of Hip-Hop Soul

Wow, Mary J. Blige! Way to attempt to throw Burger King under the proverbial bus. The only thing more laughable than your people’s move to distance you from the role you played in Burger King’s celebrity-laden rebranding effort was the actual commercial.

And yes, I laughed. Hard. Hysterically. More than once.

Let’s take another look:

God, that’s funny. 

Burger King initially pulled the add over a “licensing issue” (Blige is singing the jingle over her “Don’t Mind” track, so maybe that’s conveniently true) after a swell of negative responses about it. Blige, also feeling heat, issued a statement the following day:

“I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip [...] I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out.”

(I think I gagged on a crispy chicken wrap.) Fortunately, the internet is not the Bermuda Triangle, so nothing posted on it ever really disappears. And I’ve been chortling over this commercial ever since. I’ve also been side-eying Blige’s press release, as her anger over this alleged “unfinished” ad is as pitiful as anyone who got mad about it.

Blige’s people stated that she was supposed to be featured in a dream sequence. Would that have made it any, um, “better”? How does Burger King pitch a more explicit dream sequence wherein Blige still asks, “What’s in the new chicken wrap?” in such an astoundingly declarative-sounding, yet clearly a rhetorical question tone that would have made her unnecessary–yet funny as hell–sassiness more tolerable? Does this jingle sound better as a lullaby? I imagine not, as it is already awesome. Not as awesome as Mary’s audience rocking those crowns as they bow down to the queen, though. Or  as awesome as the manager’s body roll. Or as awesome as the two silent black women standing behind the white guy asking about the snack wraps at the beginning of the commercial. Their silent presence is almost…magical. And the younger woman’s Beats By Dre-esque headphones not only foreshadow music, but hip music–performed by a black woman. Genius, Burger King! Bravo!

Furthermore, does Blige’s claim that she would never knowingly allow an “unfinished spot” to air totally neutralize the fact that she allowed it to get started? Seriously, Mary, if you didn’t pull out of the ad when you saw and recorded the jingle, what standard do you have? How firmly should we believe in your code if, after the 20th take or so, the director asked you to put your hand on your leg and stick your hip out as you asked/said, “What’s in the new chicken wrap?” Or was that your idea? Perhaps you believe there is dignity in singing about criiiispy chickennnnn/wrapped up in uhhhhhhhh…  That’s what The Help taught us, I guess.

At the end of the day, we all know Mary did it for the money. Just like MC Hammer before her, and anyone thereafter. And I understand that. I’d sing about chicken for the right price. And the rest of you Mega Millions losers would, too. Times are hard, and it’s unwise to stare a gift chicken in the mouth.

Which reminds me, chickens need better PR. At this juncture, they fair much worse than watermelon in the race for things that keep holding Negroes back. If any food has continually sacrificed its life for the nourishment of many bodies, regardless of race, it’s chicken. And we should remember that, Easter being yesterday and all. Chicken is an innocent bystander in all of this mess. From my vantage, it’s never done anything to anybody; it didn’t sign-up to be part of this tandem stereotype. When yet another instance of it emerges, no one ever speaks for the yard bird. Twitter explodes about black people singing about chicken. But why isn’t an infuriated @chicken account tweeting something like, “(Black) people on tv singing about us again #smh” or “Colonel Sanders is a colonizer #occupykfc #gtfoh”? Because, especially since those Kia Soul hamsters are still dancing a jig, that would be absurd. But not nearly as absurd as Mary’s face-saving attempt or any alleged anger and/or surprise about this “incident.” Or Jazmine Sullivan singing lovingly and longingly about cotton being the fabric of her basic-ass life. #justsayin’.