A Point of View: Is the Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial Inspiration or Appropriation?

If you watched the Super Bowl this past weekend (which you may not have considering ratings slipped — by a lot), you may have seen a certain commercial presented by a certain truck manufacturer drawing “inspiration” from a certain civil rights leader.

What I’m talking about of course is the Dodge Ram truck commercial in which they used part of an speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. as the background for their narrative, “Built to Serve.” The part of the speech they used focuses on being a servant to others, ending with, “You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” However, the part of the speech they left out includes a critique of people being drawn in by advertising and spending too much money on cars (and other material things) to keep up with appearances. And, outside of just this particular speech, King was known to have strong critiques of capitalism and greed and its affects on workers and marginalized communities. Many criticized the ad for sanitizing Dr. King’s legacy, while others saw it as inspirational.

The managers of Dr. King’s estate approved the usage of the speech, but The King Center and his daughter, Bernice King, tweeted their disapproval.

What is your point of view on the commercial? Was it inspiration or appropriation? Watch the commercial below, along with a version created to showcase the contradictions in the other parts of this speech and the commercial. Let us know what you think, and how you think we should remember Dr. King in the comments section below.




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