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May 26, 2007
Iberia Airlines pulls 'racist, sexist' ad (major update)
YouTube brings us an ad for Iberia.com, the website of Iberia Airlines of Spain, that has been pulled by the airline after criticism from feminist groups that it was racists and sexist, in effect telling European males that Iberia can take them to Havana, where they will enjoy the company of comely young black women in bikinis. Iberia is the dominant carrier flying between Europe and Cuba.
The ad shows a cartoon infant playing with the keyboard of a computer, and then in Havana (the distinctive waterfront is shown so it is Havana, not just any old beach resort). The infant is shown riding in a convertible and being nurtured by two black females in bikinis. Upon arrival at the beach, tropical drinks are shown, and the two women take care of the child in other adult ways (no sex, though). Incidentally, to my eyes the women have rather exaggerated lips, a racial caricature, if you will.
Such is the success of the Cuban Revolution that sex tourism to Havana, where women (and reputedly children) are desperate to obtain not just luxuries but the necessities, and are known to prostitute themselves to foreign tourists. As this industry goes, they are supposedly available at bargain prices.
Those fashionable progressive thinkers, like Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone, who celebrate Castro as a great figure, rarely seem to either know or care about the miserable conditions facing ordinary Cubans.
Defenders of Iberia claim that the ad is only a variant on the GEICO "so easy a caveman can do it" commercial, and that nothing could be more innocent than a baby. But feminists, see it quite differently.
Take a look for yourself and see what you think. My opinion is that it is mildly suggestive only because of Cuba's reputation for sex tourism, but mind-numbingly bad, going on forever with insipid music and low quality animation. I am not in favor of censorship, but obviously any company which serves the general public fears demonstrations, boycotts, and harassment by aggrieved interest groups. The commercial deserved being scrapped because it was supid and boring.
Hat tip: Airliners.net
Update: Someone with an email address carrying the name Stephen Rivers has written me, denying that Spielberg ever said the widely-attributed words that his audience with Castro provided "the eight most important hours of my life." In order to be fair to the emailer, I reproduce our correspondence on the subject.
Thomas Lifson's recent blog re Cuba falsely states that Steven Spielberg is one of those who "celebrate Castro as a great figure". Not true. I organized Spielberg's 2002 trip to Cuba (which was authorized in advance by the U.S. Government, by the way), and he never said a word, there or afterwards, about Fidel Castro. Can you please make the appropriate correction? Thanks, Stephen Rivers
I believe that he stated that his several hours with Castro "were the most important in his life." Is this not celebrating?
>>as quoted in the April 11 Wall Street Journal, Spielberg described his audience with Castro last November as "the eight most important hours of my life."<<
Has the WSJ misquoted him? If he makes this claim, I would be happy to publish his denial.
Why would you organize a trip to Cuba? Do you find that brutal regime attractive?
Stephen Rivers wrote:
He never said that! That quote is absurd on its face.
It came from a Cuban state newspaper.
It was never reported at the time by the AP, Reuters, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC reporters based in Havana. If he had really said it, they most certainly would have reported it.
I wrote back:
Has Spielberg publicly denied it? Please send references.
Stephen Rivers responded:
Every time that quote has popped up I have made an effort, on his behalf, to set the record straight. Most publications that picked up that false quote corrected it, with the exception of the WSJ. If you read the alleged quote -- which, remember, came from a Cuban state newspaper -- I am sure you will agree that it does not have the ring of truth to it. It's an absurd quote. Fair minded journalists have accepted the explanation; political partisans have been less willing to do so.
The purpose of the trip was to show 8 of his films to the Cuban public (including Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List). Tens of thousands of ordinary Cubans were able to see the films, which present so many American truths and values.
As I said in my first email, the trip was authorized in advance by the U.S. Government (specifically the Treasury Dept. office that controls the embargo and decides who is authorized to travel to Cuba). The U.S. embargo has an exception that permits people-to-people contact between Americans and Cubans, in order to circumvent the anti-American hostility of the Cuban government.
I wrote back:
I would be delighted to publish a refutation from Mr. Spielberg of the many press reports
of his comment.
If you would care to author such a piece, please do send it my way.
On the other hand, if Mr. Spielberg has let this comment stand, then I can only conclude it was accurate.
Please provide further information on your basis for demanding a retraction.
It would be definitive if Spielberg himself would go on the record, which I gather he hasn't. I will append your denial to the item, and publish this correspondence. But of course your realize that anyone can claim to be anyone and deny or affirm anything in an email. So your email cannot be regarded as a reliable statement.
I suggest that you (or better yet Spielberg) contact Snopes.com, which does a generally good job debunking urban myths. They address a number of rumors about Spielberg, but not the quote which you deny
As I said, I would be delighted to publish Mr. Spielberg's denial. In addition, such a denial would raise his standing in the eyes of many. If he did not say this, I do not understand why he does not deny it..
If I receive further repsonses, I will post them.