Seems like Ashton Kutcher's new Popchips ad didn't just pop—it blew up into a controversy.
The actor's head-turning spot, which debuted online yesterday and shows a brownfaced Kutcher sending up a Bollywood producer, was briefly yanked following a public uproar over its alleged racist overtones, putting the snack's manufacturer on the defensive.
In his cheeky campaign for the snack, Kutcher can be seen playing a roulette of colorful characters looking for love on a fictitious dating service.
Viewers, however, have taken offense with one of the actor's personas: a brownfaced, Indian-accented Bollywood producer named Raj.
Tech pundit Anil Dash slammed the ad, writing on his blog: "I think the people behind this Popchips ad are not racist. I think they just made a racist ad, because they're so steeped in our culture's racism that they didn't even realize they were doing it."
New York hip-hop group Das Racist took to Twitter to vent their anger, lashing out at Kutcher by writing, "Hey @aplusk, what's with the racist brownface video you talentless, pretending to care about sex trafficking piece of s--t?"
They also later tweeted, "Hey if you care, call popchips...and register your concern, they got to pull this s--t and apologize, that's it."
"Brownface. Great. Yes, that's racist," a YouTube commenter wrote. "Yes, it has to be called out. SMH [shake my head] at Ashton Kutcher."
The ad was briefly pulled from Popchips' YouTube page but is now back online. It is nowhere to be found, however, on Popchips' Facebook page or official website.
In a statement to E! News, the company said:
"The new Popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone. At Popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended."
Kutcher, however, may have to deal with more than just accusations of racism. As another YouTube commenter put it: "The most offensive part is when Ashton Kutcher thought he was funny." Zing!
(Originally published May 3, 2012, at 5:46 a.m. PT)