THE EUROPEAN Commission has pulled a new ad promoting enlargement amid accusations of racism.
The one minute 26 second video quickly appeared on YouTube however, with an explanation from the uploader that overwhelming bad feedback had led to it being pulled.
“I made a backup however and think people should be able to see it,” he wrote.
The Guardian reported that a row broke out after the clip, designed to appeal to young voters, was released.
The video features a white woman dressed in yellow – the colour of the stars of the EU – walking through a warehouse. As a gong sounds, she looks behind her as an aggressive Chinese-looking man shouting kung fu slogans jumps down in the style of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The clip called ‘Growing Together’ shows an Indian-looking man in traditional dress wielding a knife levitating towards her. He is a master of kalaripayattu, a martial art from the southern Indian state of Kerala. As she deals with him, a black man with dreadlocks cartwheels towards her in the style of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art.
The woman stares at the men. She then multiplies herself to form a circle around the men who drop their weapons and sit down. The woman’s yellow outfit then turns into the stars of the EU.
The video shows the words: “The more we are, the stronger we are.” It then says: “Click here to learn more about EU enlargement.”
The Guardian quotes Raoul Ruparel, of Open Europe: "This was an ill-advised move by the European commission. It is strange because normally there is something of the Kum Ba Yah about the commission. But it has produced a video which shows a white female being threatened by foreign men with weapons. This is in dubious taste and judgment.
“We also question whether it was necessary to produce the video in the first place. We are in favour of EU enlargement but we are not sure that making viral videos is the best way to go about that.”
Stefano Sannino, the director general of the enlargement division of the European commission, said: "We have received a lot of feedback on our latest video clip, including from people concerned about the message it was sending. It was a viral clip targeting, through social networks and new media, a young audience (16-24) who understand the plots and themes of martial arts films and video games. The reactions of these target audiences to the clip have in fact been positive, as had those of the focus groups on whom the concept had been tested.
“The clip featured typical characters for the martial arts genre: kung fu, capoeira and kalaripayattu masters; it started with demonstration of their skills and ended with all characters showing their mutual respect, concluding in a position of peace and harmony. The genre was chosen to attract young people and to raise their curiosity on an important EU policy. The clip was absolutely not intended to be racist and we obviously regret that it has been perceived in this way. We apologise to anyone who may have felt offended. Given these controversies, we have decided to stop the campaign immediately and to withdraw the video.”