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On Wednesday, Popchips released a new video for a marketing campaign featuring Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher lampooning videos for dating services. In the video, he plays four different men, including Raj, a Bollywood producer. This sparked instant charges of racism and the company later issued a response, apologizing for offending anyone. They have also pulled the separate video of Kutcher playing the character.
In the video, Kutcher plays hipster Nigel, Karl Lagerfeld look-alike Darl and flannel-shirt wearing Swordfish. Popchips originally uploaded five videos, one with them edited together and another with each character separately. The New York Times reports that following the outcry, the Raj video was quickly removed.
One of the most vocal critics of the Raj character was tech commentator Anil Danish, who wrote, “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.”
Danish was later contacted by Popchips founder Keith Belling. Later, Belling issued a formal apology, taking full responsibility for the ad. “Our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”
“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,” a representative said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Kutcher has yet to comment on the situation.
The Raj character has not been removed from the general video for the campaign, which can be viewed here: