A 50-foot advertisement for the latest movie adaptation of “The Grinch” has Londoners seeing more red than green.
National Review reports that the billboard, which marks a bridge between north and south London, is being derided as “racist” and “classist” because it warns bridge travelers about traveling into south London, a generally poorer, more diverse part of the city.
On the side of the bridge leading into south London, the giant ad, which features the Grinch himself making an angry face, reads “Welcome to South London. This is your last chance to turn around.” On the other side, the same Grinch sarcastically comments, “You are now heading north of the river. Try to contain your excitement.”
Both sides of the billboard are meant to poke fun at the neighborhood just ahead. The side heading into south London is a bit more upfront in its insult, but the side heading into north London isn’t meant to be a celebration of north London’s apparent superiority.
Similar ads have been popping up across the globe. The ad pictured above this story references New Yorkers, shredding them for being “rude,” “loud,” and “angry.” The Grinch has been excoriating residents of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles in a similar way.
But some people just can’t take a joke — and it’s probably no surprise the people who can’t take this joke are British diversity activists who aren’t happy that the Grinch is reinforcing “stereotypes.”
One such activist named James Asfa, who works for a community organizing group that works exclusively in South London, was particularly enraged.
‘Welcome to South London
This is your last chance to turn around’
Nope. Not finding this funny @BFI Imax Waterloo – snobbery of South London is based on classist and racist stereotypes.
— James Asfa (@JamesAsfa) November 10, 2018
“Not finding this funny… snobbery of south London is based on classist and racist stereotypes,” Asfa said on Twitter.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Asfa added, “This advert plays into all the worst stereotypes about south London and the tired notion that people won’t want to go there because it’s poor or that its diversity is a problem rather a strength.”
“I tried hard to see the funny side and not be a Grinch but ‘jokes’ like this aren’t harmless,” Asfa said. The IMAX, which is hosting the billboard, he continued “should instead be proud of being a south London landmark.”
Another complainer targeted the Grinch’s marketing team directly.
“Your advert on the Waterloo IMAX suggesting that North is better than south London prevents me from seeing your film,” a Twitter critic raged. “How many people did the ad go through? All of them saying ‘Good work, 50k well spent’ add your own invective. Rubbish.”
It appears to have escaped the Grinch’s critics that he is, in fact, a Grinch. Anyone familiar with the Grinch (pre-encounter with the Whos of Whoville), knows that he’s not exactly the nicest person, and its clear the ad campaign is meant to reinforce that no one is safe from the Grinch’s self-involvement and self-preening.
Unfortunately, we appear to have reached a point where common knowledge — and common humor — are less-than-common.