It is important to be politically correct, as people can and often are offended by the words we use to describe our thoughts on matters and even just the things we might wish to purchase.
Apparently, the Swedish clothing retailer H&M needs to learn that lesson, as the retailer is now in hot water as a result of recent actions.
On the 7th of this month, H&M made the dubious choice to advertise for sale a hoodie—or as they described it, a printed hooded top. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?
The text on the printed hooded top, which we’ll just refer to as a hoodie going forward, read: “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”.
So why did the image of the hoodie for sale go viral? After all, monkeys are cool, right?
Well, it went viral because H&M decided to have a young black male model the aforementioned hoodie. Social media users were not happy.
H&M did apologize for posting an image that might offend those who believe there to be an association between black people and the terms “jungle” and “monkey”. As they put it, there was a “hateful slur” on the hoodie.
Was the image truly insensitive? Perhaps it was. Are the people who reacted to the image a little too sensitive? Social media comments will address that issue in due time, and that time will probably be within 24 hours of this article being written and posted online.
To their credit, the clothing retailer really did promptly respond to being criticized for their perceived slight against minorities.
Notably, it wasn’t just random social media users who reacted poorly to the image of the tyke sporting the “Coolest Money in the Jungle” hoodie. An organization known as “Models for Diversity” tweeted “shame on you” to the retailer.
I suppose the organization made a point when they questioned how such an image could be released after experienced marketing experts took a good look at it, but it still seems like a bit of an overreaction.
.@hm this is inappropriate, offensive, and racist. Why is the white kid “a jungle survivor” and the black kid the “coolest monkey in the jungle”? How do you think this is okay? REMOVE this and the clothing piece. This is completely distasteful! #racist #hm https://t.co/uati7eI0Io pic.twitter.com/WSF9Wiksio
— Selene Arianela (@ArianelaSelene) January 8, 2018
Even a columnist from the New York Times tweeted about the image, asking H&M if “they” had lost their minds. You would think that New York Times reporters would have bigger things to focus on—I can think of dozens—but clothing advertisements apparently take precedence.
. @hm, have you lost your damned minds?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/EYuCXLZtv3
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Whose idea was it at @hm to have this little sweet black boy wear a jumper that says ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’?
I mean. What. pic.twitter.com/6AJfMdQS4L
— Stephanie Yeboah (@NerdAboutTown) January 7, 2018
The picture of the boy has been replaced with a generic photo, which means that the young lad probably won’t make nearly as much money as he could have had it stayed up. There are no models at all on the product’s new listing, which means that no one can get offended.
The apology from H&M has been described as “terse”.
H&M has been defended by numerous people on social media; people are doing so by saying that the image was clearly a mistake.
Will the company’s little gaffe impact H&M in a negative way? Well, it is certainly possible, but also highly unlikely. It operates in 62 countries. There are over 4,000 stores, and it employs over 100,000 people. It has been reported that it has partnered with the non-profit UNICEF for truly altruistic reasons, and it is basically one of the most non-offensive companies out there. If I had anything bad to say about it, it would be that I am just not hip enough to wear the men’s clothing that it has to offer.
Is there anything to learn from this story? If there is, which is probably unlikely, it is that it can be very easy to get offended by things that should not offend you. If there’s anything else to learn from the story, it is that getting offended on social media accomplishes very little.
Was H&M trying to be racist with their advertisement? Certainly not, because doing so would be stupid. After all, it is a very large company operating in a diverse and multicultural world, so being racist would be completely foolish on their part. It would cost them millions.
At the end of the day, H&M will be fine, and they’ll keep selling reasonably priced t-shirts and clothes that many of us wish we didn’t look ridiculous wearing.
H/T – Source