An advertisement for the movie The Grinch, which is wrapped around an IMAX theater in Central London, has been branded “racist” and “classist.”
The apparently offensive, 50-foot-tall advertisement features a picture of the Grinch and the words “Welcome to South London. This is your last chance to turn around.” On the other side of the building, it states: “You are now heading north of the river. Try to contain your excitement.”
All of this was obviously intended to spark interest in the film, but it wound up sparking outrage instead — with some people even going so far as to say that they’d boycott it altogether.
‘Welcome to South London
This is your last chance to turn around’
Nope. Not finding this funny @BFI Imax Waterloo – snobbery of South London is based on classist and racist stereotypes.
— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) November 10, 2018
Your advert on the Waterloo @IMAX suggesting that North is better than South London prevents me from seeing your film. How many people did the ad go through? All of them saying “Good work, 50k well spent” add your own invective. Rubbish.
— Joseph Mattey (@Joseph_Mattey) November 15, 2018
“This advert plays into all the worst stereotypes about South London and the tired notion that people won’t want to go there because it’s poor or that its diversity is a problem rather than a strength,” the author of that first tweet, James Asfa, explained to Huffington Post UK. “I tried hard to see the funny side and not be a Grinch, but ‘jokes’ like this aren’t harmless. The IMAX should instead be proud of being a south London landmark.”
Personally, I find all of this outrage to be absolutely silly. Does the advertisement seem to slam South London? Yes, of course it does; I can totally admit that. But the thing is, those insulting comments are being attributed to the f****** Grinch, who is literally one of fiction’s most infamous a**holes. The fact that he doesn’t seem to like South London shouldn’t be surprising or even noteworthy, considering the fact that his whole “thing” is hating stuff.
What’s more, I don’t think that the advertisement even really sent the message that the north side of London is any better than the south side. If you know even anything about the Grinch (and I’m sure most people who have seen the ad do), then you’d know that he probably hardly meant the words “You are now heading north of the river. Try to contain your excitement” sincerely. No . . . knowing the Grinch, it seems pretty clear that those words were intended to dripping with Grinchy sarcasm and trying to communicate the fact that the north side isn’t really anything to be excited about, either.
I’m all for being nice and sensitive, but demanding perfect political correctness of fictional characters is absolutely insane — especially when those characters are supposed to be seen as jerks. An advertisement featuring the Grinch that stated, for example, “Welcome to the south side, where everything is wonderful; I love life” would have hardly made sense, given the fact that the whole point of the movie is to follow the storyline of a character who starts out hating everything. I mean, he’s the Grinch. He’s not just not a very nice guy; his name has actually become synonymous with being hateful and awful. Oh, and by the way . . . what kind of movie would it even be if he wasn’t the way he was? If we actually demanded that even the Grinch be politically correct and sensitive? Would it just be a movie about a green guy decorating his house, going caroling, and then going to church before getting to bed at a reasonable hour? In order to have an actual story, there needs to be conflict. In many cases, this conflict is created using a character who is The Bad Guy. This isn’t just okay, it’s absolutely necessary for many stories — and boycotting a film because its fictional Bad Guy was saying something mean is about as ridiculous as it gets.