We loved the hilarious Super Bowl ad for the coming-some-day-but-not-anytime-soon Acura NSX starring Jerry Seinfeld, but we really wish it would have popped back onto our radar for a different reason than this. (Like a production announcement from Honda.) TMZ is reporting that when the commercial was cast, the ad the agency responsible had sought an African-American actor to play the car dealer who was, "Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark." And the website has a copy of the document to prove it.
To paraphrase one of Seinfeld's catch phrases: "Yes, there's everything wrong with that."
While we'd like to think that some day the obvious interpretation might be that the casting director was referring to the actor's mood, clearly that's not the case here. TMZ says an unnamed source associated with the commercial told it that "not too dark" had something to do with lighting and special effects, and we hope that's true. Still, the way the brief description reads, it certainly sounds like whomever was casting the spot thinks dark-skinned people are neither nice nor friendly.
We're not about to throw Honda under the bus – it was, after all, an outside ad agency named RP& that shot the ad, according to Motoramic – as the automaker apologized, issuing the following statement:
We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials.
We sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role in the commercial, and we made our selection based on the fact that he was the most talented actor.
The casting sheet was only now brought to our attention. We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand.
While we're glad to see Honda react promptly and properly, re-watching the commercial gave us further pause: If Honda indeed sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role, did it consider an African-American for the part of the guy who's first on the list for the NSX, as opposed to the salesperson?