Pretty salty

Is nobody else completely unnerved by the “Toyota Power Team” commercial in which a fatigue-clad, shotgun-toting man walks toward the camera with his dog, surrounded by similarly dressed men, discussing “Toyota’s quality bloodline.” Quality bloodline? Unless I’m missing something, it seems like our local Toyota dealer is making explicit use of the language of white supremacists to sell their trucks. Maybe I’m reading too much into the commercial, but I get the awful feeling that they’re not hunting deer. Now that’s pretty salty.

31 Comments so far

  1. YatPundit (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 8:11 am

    you’re missing something. The “quality bloodline” term stems from animal husbandry. People in the south breed hunting dogs. To my knowledge, they haven’t bred black folks for some time now. As for what they’d be hunting, how about ducks? I’ve never been hunting in my life, but I’m told that the hunter uses the dog to go get the duck after it’s been shot down.

    White supremacists talk about blacks as if they’re dogs because they’re stupid; hunters and dog-breeders shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush.

    It’s difficult to infer a motive in a blog post like this, but I suspect what’s happened here is you don’t like hunting and you’re trying to find something between the lines because of that.

  2. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 9:02 am

    I don’t buy it. Trucks don’t have bloodlines, and the characters in the commercial are not presented as being dog breeders (and hunting dogs are not show dogs; the “quality” of their bloodline is not an issue). White supremacists are obsessed with bloodlines, but not of black people (you missed my point when you commented on “breeding black folks). They are obsessed with their own, with their racial purity.

    Yes, dogs are used in hunting ducks. I am certain that this is what these hunters are supposed to be doing in the commercial. And, yet, because the commercial uses such a perverse turn of phrase, one seemingly borrowed from white supremacists, it is easy also to watch the commercial and get the feeling that these same people could just as easily be getting into their car and heading out to burn a few crosses.

    Sorry. Until somebody can point out how a truck can have a bloodline, I maintain that my queasiness regarding this commercial is valid. And there is no need to infer any motive to my post. If my point were that I am opposed to hunters, I would have said so.

  3. Ignatius (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 10:01 am


    I think you are reading way too much into this commercial. The ugly head of racism isn’t in every shadow.

    It might be a bad commercial – but let’s face it no corporation is going to run a commercial pandering to racists. Especially when they are trying to sell an expensive product in a market that is mostly minority. That would be stupid – and Toyota is not stupid.

    I think it’s pretty apparent that the “quality bloodline” reference is a metaphor – a bad one, perhaps – to hunting dogs, which are often praised for having a quality bloodline. And frankly, that metaphor is not lost on sportsmen – who are clearly the target audience of the advertisement.

    Hyper-sensitive much?

  4. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 10:09 am

    Oh, I think it is entirely likely that the commercial was made with its makers entirely oblivious to my potential reading. Their obliviousness doesn’t make the commercial any less idiotic. The fact is, there are well-armed, fatigue-clad white men rolling around in trucks muttering about “quality bloodlines,” and they are not talking about hunting dogs. A sensible commercial would have avoiding any hint of this, and could have done so simply by not stressing the importance of its car’s non-existant pure breeding.

  5. Ignatius (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 10:16 am

    Brevity is a virtue. Perhaps instead of writing, “well-armed, fatigue-clad white men rolling around in trucks . . .”

    You could simply write, “hunters at a hunting camp.”

    Clarity is also a virtue. And the suggested phrase is extremely clear – especially to most people living in south Louisiana – or Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.

  6. Clay (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 10:17 am

    Hunting+Dogs+Shotguns+pickup trucks=Typical Louisiana man.

    I love the French Quarter and would love to live there much like you do, but maybe your a bit out of touch with the overall demographics of the state in which you live. Our state motto is Sportman’s Paradise. And this refers directly to hunting and fishing.

    The reference of quality bloodline is a dog reference, obviously since this “fatigue-clad, shotgun-toting man” is with his dog. They use the Toyota truck to get to the duck blind. Hunting dogs with quality bloodlines are prized because they know their shit, you dont just go to the ASPCA and pick up a hunting dog, you get one from a breeder of quality bloodlines so the dog can perform. You dont just go the local used auto lot and buy any old truck, you go to Toyota, where the used vehicles undergo a 160-point inspection and are sold certified, or brand new if you’ve got the coin. Toyota trucks are some of the most dependable, reliable, and longest lasting trucks on the market, not to mention the resale value on a Toyota is phenomenal…a quality product. Toyota has a long standing reputation. Here is the “bloodline” connection Max.

    You are definitely reading too much into this. I could go on and on about the pathetic grasping of references to fit deologies that go on everyday is this country, but it is America and people are allowed to have an opinion, even if it is sensational and out of proportion. But the point this commercial is making is that if you want a truck with a great reputation, head down to the Toyota dealer, cause they have a great bloodline (reputation).

    White supremecist??!! are you serious?! Did you just get through watching Amistd/Deliverence/Shindler’s List/American History X when you wrote this post. I think you are alone in this queasiness. It’s just a truck man. I usually mute commercials, maybe you should try it.

    P.S. I drive a Ford.

  7. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 10:50 am

    Obviously I am a little out of touch. Clearly, commenting on sportsmen in Louisiana is the equivalent of writing critically about fraternities on most campuses. You are immediately swamped with response letters from angry frat boys suggesting that you must be the one with the problem.

    Sorry. In a town that’s 60 percent black, showing a white man with a gun and a dog talking about bloodlines brings up more images than just that of hunters, and I am entirely justified in pointing that out. It’s not a critique of hunters, so you guys can relax. It’s a critique of a commerical that used an extremely odd turn-of-phrase to describe the excellence of their vehicle. They may have been innocent in doing so. I think they could have been more sensible.

  8. Robert (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 11:26 am

    I’m neither a sportsman or a frat boy, and I think you’re way off base here too. The hunter in the commercial you’re talking about is Hokie Gajan, former Saints running back. And while I have never hunted in my life, some relatives of mine in Amite used to raise bloodhounds for that purpose, and I can assure you that their “heritage” or “bloodlines” were every bit as important to them as to people who raise showdogs.

    In any kind of advertising, the first question to ask is “what demographic are they going for?” Here, it’s pretty obvious that the demographic is “Sportsmen” who’d probably otherwise buy Ford or Chevy trucks.

    I certainly don’t think there was any hidden or subliminal message intended, and frankly I don’t think your interpretation is reasonable.

  9. Clay (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 11:27 am

    For the record, I havent been hunting in over 20 years. And I’m not angry.

    Nobody that has responded has taken offense as a hunter. You asked for someone to explain the bloodline reference. Done.

    “showing a white man with a gun and a dog talking about bloodlines brings up more images than just that of hunters”

    no it doesn’t, unless you are looking for it. Toyota is just marketing that commercial to a certain audience for that specific commercial, the sportsman. You cant catch them all with the same commercial.

    How come all the McDonald’s and Sprite commercials are filled with black people and rap music these days. Is it because the only food and drinks blacks can afford is McDonald’s and Sprite, or because McDonald’s doesnt like white people eating at their restaurants. No. They are marketing to a certain demographic. End of story.

    “extremely odd turn-of-phrase” – b.s. , they are hunting, there is hunting dog, hunting dogs have bloodlines. period. your sounding like Al Sharpton.

    Just because nobody agrees with your opinion, now you have turned your focuse from white men wearing fatigues and driving trucks to angry frat boys? Why? I think you are leaving your original point behind here.

    make your point, solicit discussion, debate, and enjoy yourself, but dont start making blind accusations. we dont like and Toyota doesnt either.

    “They may have been innocent in doing so. I think they could have been more sensible.”….

    (NEW YORK, July 12 Kyodo “Toyota Motor Corp. retained the eighth position on U.S. business magazine Fortune’s list of the world’s 500 largest companies”)


  10. YatPundit (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

    White supremacists speak in terms of their own racial purity, yes, but you can’t infer that from a guy and his truck. People breed dogs, not people. Sure, you’ve got racists who are proud of their “white heritage” and won’t let their daughters date black guys. I look at that commercial and see a guy talking about his truck like his dog, though.

    Another major flaw in your logic is the statement that New Orleans is 60% black. While this is true of Orleans Parish, it’s far from accurate when evaluating the demographics of the metro area. There are ~1.2 million people in metro New Orleans, with less than half of that number actually living in the city limits. When you look at New Orleans as a TV market, it’s not as white-bread as Buffalo, NY, but it’s still more like 65/35 white/black. And a lot of that 65% white hunt and fish. A lot of the black folks do as well. Showing a guy with a shotgun and a dog means he’s going hunting.

    Your comment on fraternities is a bullshit deflection of legitmate criticism of your logic. If your original statement had been to criticize hunters, I have little doubt that this thread would have taken a different turn. I’m not a fan of hunting, but that doesn’t mean I see a guy in hunting gear and see a racist.

  11. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 1:06 pm

    Please nothing. Of course I am not accusing Toyota of deliberately using racist language in their commercial. I am simply saying that their imagery calls to mind the spectre of racism in this country, quite probably by accident. But to suggest that it is impossible to see a commercial in which white men with guns discuss the value of bloodlines and be reminded of the images and language of white supremacy is overly dimissive — such a reading is possible, and valid. Toyota may not have intended such a reading; I am sure that, like you, they see the images in the commercial and immediately see “sportsman.” Buit that doesn’t invalidate my reading either. Listen, if I shave my moustache into a little bristle and wear my hair to one side, a certain percentage of people are going to think I am dressing like Hitler, even if I’m trying to look like Charlie Chaplin. And it won’t do to simply tell them they are out of touch because they live in the French Quarter. Whether I like it or not, whether I intended it or not, I have called to mind the image of Hitler.

    I’m not calling for the commercial to be struck from the air, or the producers to be hounded out of town, or even saying that people who interpret it as a commercial about hunting are misreading it. I am simply saying the use of the phrase “quality bloodlines” from the mouth of a well-armed white man brings some unfortunate references to mind for me. So it doesn’t for you. Good on ya.

  12. Mike Hoffman (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

    WTF Max, are you trying to take over my role as New Orleans troublemaker?

  13. Robert (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

    You know, I hate to prolong this, but when you said: “Unless I’m missing something, it seems like our local Toyota dealer is making explicit use of the language of white supremacists to sell their trucks.” I was pretty sure you were suggesting that your reading of the ad was that Toyota was trying to sell cars by appealing to racists.

    I gotta tell you man, my reading of your intent from what you wrote still seems a whole hell of a lot more reasonable than your interpretation of that commercial. :D

  14. jfbiii (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 2:18 pm

    “I am simply saying that their imagery calls to mind the spectre of racism in this country, quite probably by accident.”

    I disagree. I think the percentage of people who will see this commercial and have the spectre of racism called to mind is miniscule.

    “Toyota may not have intended such a reading … But that doesn’t invalidate my reading either.”

    The simple fact that you saw it that way doesn’t necessarily validate your reading as reasonable, either. You MIGHT be able to validate it, but I don’t think you’ve managed it yet.

    The fact that racists have stolen terms from the lexicon of an industry a couple of thousand years older than the Africa-to-America slave trade doesn’t invalidate their original meaning when someone uses them (as Toyota clearly has) in the proper context. It’s not Toyota’s responsibility to both use terms in their proper context and then to insure that every potential viewer has enough knowledge to recognize the context. The former is Toyota’s responsibility. The latter is the viewer’s.

  15. Ignatius (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 2:26 pm

    Ok Max – let’s get back to your original post. Here is how it started: “Is nobody else completely unnerved by the “Toyota Power Team” commercial . . . ”

    I think you have your answer.

  16. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 15th, 2005 @ 4:05 pm

    Apparently so.

  17. Jeremy (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 1:58 pm


    Your argument is a clear example of reverse discrimination. Because of your judgements regardning southern culture you have projected an inaccurate interpretation of this commercial.

    I see the reverse discrimination all the time. People afraid to drive thru small-town Mississippi with Northern license plates, etc…

    I do not support hunting or racism, but I can tell from your words that your narrow view on Southerners has projecting an undertone in this commerical which simply does not exist.

    Take a look at the sterotypes you project on persons you dislike (hunters? Old south white men?). Are they really valid from firsthand accounts, or simply what you expect from others based on preconcieved ideas?

    PS… Stating that 60% of New Orleans is black is a totally irrelevant point. I suspect you dont know a lot about demographics or television. (It’s what I do for a living). Just so you know… every commercial targets a certain demographic.

    Think about it. Did Toyota buy that spot to sell a truck to an inner city black man? Or did they buy it to sell a truck to a white man in Chalmette or Hammond? You target the demographic who will be interested in what you’re selling. Commericals are purchased in programs watched by those demographics (yes, it’s all very well charted). And, when a company has a ton of cash like Toyota, they cater their spots to the audience as well.

  18. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 2:25 pm

    Oh, dear lord. Reverse discrimination? Please. I’m white. I live in the South. I feel no fear when I drive through Mississippi. While I am not a hunter, neither am I an anti-hunting activist. I would have had no questions about the commercial were it not for the use of one phrase, “quality bloodlines,” which caught my ear in such a way that brought up queasy associations. I am not calling for any activism, I am not suggesting that the commerical be struck from the airm and I am not saying all southerns are racists. I’m not even saying the commercial is racist. I am saying that that specific turn of phrase, concerning purity of bloodlines, has a second meaning beyond simply breeding hunting dogs. I’m pleased that so many of you have had so little association with American racism that you are oblivious of their obsession with racial purity, and that they use the language of animal husbandry, of pure bloodlines, to define this purity. I haven’t been as lucky, and so, when I hear white men discussing a truck in terms of its “bloodline,” it raises other associations.

  19. Mark (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 6:26 pm

    It’s a pity to be late to this party, but I will say that a Japanese Company using white supremacist code in its ad is pretty far-fetched in this case (and I’ll usually read into anything along these lines).

    I wish there’d been an equally intense response to the previous post by Hoffman.

  20. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 6:43 pm

    I know! Poor Mike!

  21. Tyler (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 8:37 pm

    This isn’t an argument for one position or another (though I do have my opinions), but I want to point out that this commerical has not to my knowledge been show in North Carolina (where I live). I am curious: where is this commercial being shown?

  22. Aaron (unregistered) on April 16th, 2005 @ 9:51 pm

    It’s purely local spot shown in Louisiana. If you read the other comments Tyler, you’ll see from the star of the commercial (former Saint’s running back), the setting (woods/swamp), and, unsaid so far in any spot, the Central Louisiana accent which the speaker has, you’ll understand why Max is being attacked like he is. The spot is obviously tailor-made for LA hunter/fishermen, by a Japanese company (Japanese Internment Camps during WWII, remember, … a people who were subject to racism in the United States), trying to sell reliable trucks and using the metaphor of a well-bred hunting dog to accomplish their goal. Really. That’s all.

  23. Jimmy Jam (unregistered) on April 17th, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

    As a white person of European descent, am I rascist for having a white girlfriend, also of European descent? What if I have a white girlfriend, and I drive a Toyota?

  24. max Sparber (unregistered) on April 17th, 2005 @ 6:43 pm


  25. Robert (unregistered) on April 18th, 2005 @ 9:05 am

    “I’m pleased that so many of you have had so little association with American racism that you are oblivious of their obsession with racial purity, and that they use the language of animal husbandry, of pure bloodlines, to define this purity. I haven’t been as lucky, and so, when I hear white men discussing a truck in terms of its “bloodline,” it raises other associations.”


    Jesus dude, get over yourself. Nobody is denying that racism exists, and nobody is denying that racists tend to talk about bloodlines. What most people are saying is that your interpretation of the commercial probably says more about you than the commercial itself. Put another way, you seem to be amazed that so many of us are “oblivious” to the (to you) obvious racial/racist overtones of the commercial. To a lot of us, however, your reaction is the odd one. I’m amazed that you are oblivious to the common sense perception of the commercial, and I’d think you are getting all cut up by Occam’s razor at this point.

    All it really says is that if you look hard enough, you can find whatever you want in any context you like. I mean, just the other day I saw a commercial for Paw-Paw’s Camper City, and I’m pretty sure it was telling me to strangle a kitten. Or something.

  26. Clay (unregistered) on April 18th, 2005 @ 9:23 am

    Dare I say this topic still has fresh legs after a long spring weekend?

    Hey Max, did you practice muting the commercials this weekend like I suggested? They are usually too loud anyway.

  27. Max Sparber (unregistered) on April 18th, 2005 @ 9:52 am

    I just can’t believe so many people are so concerned about the way I interpret a commercial.

  28. Aaron (unregistered) on April 18th, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

    Well Max, it doesn’t help that all of the other bloggers on Metroblogging are allowing this post to be the most recent. Imagine a 50′ bullseye on a professional sniper range.

  29. max Sparber (unregistered) on April 18th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    Good point. Perhaps I should take matter into my own hands.

  30. pidge (unregistered) on May 5th, 2005 @ 7:00 pm

    Another late entry, sorry.

    If I’d seen the commercial, I would have felt creeped out for sure.

    Big white guys in fatigues armed with shotguns? Coming towards me? Yikes!

    I have to say that this is part of the reason many people are afraid of America: so many guns intertwined with popular culture…

    I also have to add that I would probably have raised an eyebrow at the racist overtones of the word “bloodlines”. I immediately think a)kkk b)horsebreeders. Even if it isn’t crystal clear, such a mixed reference really isn’t a good idea in an advertisement.

  31. Clay (unregistered) on May 6th, 2005 @ 1:58 pm

    so you didnt even see the commercial, yet you find it racisct AND creepy!

    isnt there a saying that goes “3 weeks late and a commercial short” or is it “a day late and a dollar short”?

    laughable, man!

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