Entertainment

Levy 'fumes' about flag stomping

By Howard Campbell Observer writer

Tuesday, February 26, 2013    

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SINGER Barrington Levy, whose hit song Murderer is used in a German television advertisement featuring a burning Jamaican flag, says he finds parts of the commercial offensive.

Levy told the Jamaica Observer that he first saw the ad yesterday on YouTube. He describes the scene where a man stomps on the burning flag to extinguish it as "disrespectful."

"They could have found a different method to do that. I never liked that at all," said Levy.

The ad was produced by the Saturn Coffee Shop, a German company and was aired last week.

Levy, 48, says Saturn's management approached him recently to use Murderer as part of their promotional campaign. Levy said he agreed but had no idea the visual would involve offensive use of the Jamaican banner.

"We made the necessary arrangements in terms of licensing but we never discussed anything about burning or stomping on the flag," he said.

The ad, which is produced in German, shows two men making coffee in a store. They accidentally start a fire that ignites a Jamaican flag hanging in the establishment.

In an effort to prevent the fire from spreading, one of the men takes the burning flag outside, throws it on the sidewalk and starts stomping on it to put out the blaze.

It has been condemned in some quarters. Olivia Grange, the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party spokesperson on culture, was among the unimpressed.

"Whilst the commercial with heavy Jamaican influences may have been devoid of malicious intent as partly illustrated by the prominent unfurling of the Jamaican flag in the end, it is unacceptable to have images of Jamaica's national flag being desecrated in fact the same is true for any national flag the world over," Grange said in a statement.

Saturn's controversial promo aired three weeks after another German company, Volkswagen, ran a satirical ad during the Super Bowl in the United States.

That visual portrayed a man from the American Midwest prodding co-workers at a Volkswagen office to cheer up, using a dodgy Jamaican accent.

While organisations like the Jamaica Tourist Board welcomed the publicity from the slot, some persons in the United States inluding CNN contrbutor and New York Times columnist Charles Blow, called it racist.

Levy, who says he last performed in Germany last year, recorded Murderer in 1984. It was produced by Hyman 'Jah Life' Wright.

One of his biggest hits, Murderer is on Barrington Levy's Reggae Anthology: Sweet Reggae Music, a compilation to be released by VP Records.

His latest song is the self-produced The Way She Loves Me with Mr Vegas.

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