Dodge ran what I’m comfortable calling the worst Super Bowl ad in history—directly contradicting Martin Luther King’s message in order to sell a truck. If you haven’t seen this monstrosity, prepare yourself for one of the most manipulative pieces of garbage in the history of capitalism.
Credit to Current Affairs for tweaking it and using Martin Luther King’s actual message to dunk all over the craven executives at Dodge and whatever pathetic ad agency conceived of this monstrosity (something called a Highdive, apparently). Dodge and Highdive either didn’t know or didn’t care that MLK spoke out against the exact kind of lie they perpetrated. This is the good version of the commercial.
Chrysler (who owns Dodge) predictably made YouTube take Current Affairs’s version down, proving that these corporatist buffoons don’t understand that the internet is forever. Martin Luther King is perhaps America’s most misrepresented hero outside of our slave-owning founding fathers, and it’s because his imagery has become completely commodified. He represents peace, humility and the passion and conviction to do what’s right—and those characteristics have been manipulated by the very bad actors he spent his life preaching out against.
Gallup’s last poll of the public’s perception of Martin Luther King pegged him at 63% negative favorability in 1966 (which is worse than Trump right now). Between 1963 and 1967, Dr. King appeared just twice in Gallup’s 10 most admired men in America. Segregationist George Wallace finished at #7 on the list the year before MLK was assassinated, while Dr. King did not even make the cut. This is the America that really exists—not the bullshit caricature created by Dodge and Highdive.
We live in a white supremacist nation, and a third-rate car company using Martin Luther King’s inspirational words without permission of The King Center (created by his wife) nor his youngest child in order to sell a truck that no one buys is the picture of how rancid and pervasive this ideology is (Dodge was able to use the audio because MLK’s estate licensed it to them).
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.