Thursday, May 20, 2010

The New Swagger Wagon – Minivan Rap Song

Minivan Rap Song - Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon

Suburban chic no longer means just a white picket fence – numerous hipster parents are bringing "cool" back to parenthood, complete with a minivan rap song. The Minivan rap song tries the equivalent of getting an no faxing payday loan for the minivans’ image – proving they are “awesome” by doing what all the cool kids are doing. Could this rap song be considered offensive, if effective?

Minivan rap song combines irony, parody, and trendy?

The Toyota Sienna minivan rap song seems intended to be very ironic. Two rather average-ish looking parents rap about loving being parents and loving their "swagger wagon.” By mixing irony and parody, the video is very funny. The humor, though, stems from the stereotypical premise that white individuals from the suburbs “shouldn’t” be rapping. The real irony, though, is when most hip-hop music is performed by minority musicians, within the billion-dollar hip-hop industry a lot more than 70 percent of music sales are made to white individuals. Genre-crossing hip hop music and performances have also been "taking over" top 40 pop charts for the last few years.

Minivan rap song continues an advertising trend

Far from the first, the minivan rap song is one of a long list of advertisements that have "ironic rap". Comparable commercials are put together by the ad agencies for Taco Bell, Chicago-Lake Liquors, Baskin-Robbins, and Smirnoff. Comedians, including Saturday Night Live, have long used this schtick to get laughs.

Minivan rap song offensive?

While most people are just watching and giggling at the minivan rap song, a few are calling it offensive. The head of Cultural Trends at an ad agency that specializes in “campaigns that target minorities” has written extensively about advertisements like this. She poses a question that is worth discussion:

What is supposed to be amusing about this video? White individuals posturing in (stereotypically) non-white scenarios? When is race role-play and cultural appropriation okay? When is it acceptable, and when is it derogatory?

How do you see this question?

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